Yesterday I posted three questions that I think about when speaking. These questions come from Aristotle’s modes of persuasion that he refers to as the ethos, pathos & logos of communication. I like to think about them from the audience perspective and put them in the form of three primary questions:

“Can I trust you?” (ethos)
“Do you care about me?” (pathos)
“Do you know what you’re talking about?” (logos)

Let’s look at these a little more closely:

ETHOS: Can I trust you?

For many of us who teach God’s Word, this is a fair question. From those who live outside the “Christian bubble” a preacher/teacher doesn’t always have the best reputation. Almost every week we read of a different ministry leader/teacher/priest who has either lied/stolen/sexed his/her way into the headlines. To a new audience member, how are you as the speaker any different? Your audience is listening and wondering if you’re trustworthy.

What’s one way to enhance your ethos?

Tell failure stories: this is helpful when speaking to all audiences, and especially helpful with a teenage audience. When you are the hero of all the stories you’re not trustworthy. Your audience is thinking, “Why is she always the winner, the hero, the star of the show? I can’t relate…I’m definitely not!” On the other hand, when you’re the goat of the story you’re not only more relatable, you’re more normal and trustworthy. And, if you can’t tell “I’m a dork”/failure stories you might be too prideful to even be speaking.

PATHOS: Do you care about me?

We communicate care prior to even stepping on stage. As soon as your audience enters the room, you have the ability to increase your pathos. They are taking note of how you greet them, how you talk with them, and interact with their friends. Do you look them in the eyes, remember their name, hug them, and show that you care? If so, you’re helping your communication before you even say a word from stage.

What’s one way to enhance your pathos?

In addition to what I’ve suggested about pre-communication connecting, I would suggest that you make it very clear to your audience why you want them to “get” what you’re talking about. I have a default phrase that I regularly use that goes like this, “The reason I want you to get this is because…” and then I’ll tell them why it’s so important to me. It’s usually important to me because I’ve heard about their pain and want them to avoid further trouble. Any story or phrase that communicates genuine concern for your audience communicates pathos.

LOGOS: Do you know what you’re talking about?

Let’s be honest, this is where most communicators spend the majority of their time. They think a mouth-filled with persuasive arguments will move people to make a verdict. Unfortunately, most audiences don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care (originally huh?). It’s so important to know what you’re talking about, but not more important to your audience than the previous two questions.

Question: Does this make sense? I’d love to know what questions it leaves you. I’ll do my best to answer them in the comment section.

If you want to dig a lot deeper into communication and the construction of messages, you might consider picking up the book I wrote with Duffy Robbins titled, Speaking To Teenagers (click on book cover below)
Speaking to Teenagers - Physical