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2,300 years old … and a terrific speaker

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in Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills

Modern public speaking got its start in ancient Greece and Rome. Over 2,300 years ago, Greek philosopher Aristotle found that orators could win over audiences by integrating three elements: logos, ethos and pathos.

With logos, you harness logic, evidence and reason to build airtight arguments. If you make an assertion, cite evidence to support it.

Ethos relates to a speaker’s character. You’re more likely to persuade people if you bring a solid, upright reputation to the podium.

You can build credibility by having someone introduce you to the group. When a moderator lists your accomplishments along with your experience and expertise with the topic at hand, you can impress audiences before saying a word.

Weave pathos into your speech by radiating appropriate levels of emotion. The ability to arouse sympathy at the right moment, or excite the crowd with an enthusiastic appeal that’s aligned with their beliefs, injects life into your presentation.

To maximize your persuasive power, mix all three ingredients into your speech. Construct a logical case so that your remarks flow in a coherent, easy-to-follow manner. Make sure the audience has a clear understanding of your background or training on the subject matter. And tell vivid stories that make your topic come alive, varying your voice tone and volume so that you sound like you care passionately about your message.

Even seasoned speakers fall into the trap of lacking pathos. If you talk in a monotone and appear uninterested in what you’re saying, you’ll lose potential allies who decide to tune out.

— Adapted from The Gift of the Gab, David Crystal, Yale University Press.

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