Aristotle’s Rules for Persuasive Speech

When you think of old, very old, extremely old speakers.
Who’s the first person which comes to mind?

Larry King?
NO – this speaker is older than Larry
Impossible you say, no one is older than Larry.
Well let me tell you a story.
Larry,  had a teacher back in 3rd grade I believe
where he went to St. Catherine of the Very Talkative.
His name was Mr. Mr. Aristotle.

A philosopher of sorts.
One of those professors types from the Greek part of town.
It turns out he was a great public speaker.
Some 2400 years ago, when Larry was just a boy,
Aristotle wrote a book on public speaking called, “Rhetoric.”

Now first let me explain that there are there are 3 basics types of speeches,
The first is the Informational speech.
If you just want to give your audience as much information and data as possible – that’s an informational speech.
Unfortunately, that’s what a lot of speakers do in essence.
They take their entire speech and put it into a power point format, and uses 8423 bullet points
to slowly read their speech to the audience, point by point by point, until everyone has gone comatose. That speech is an informational speech.

The 2nd type of speech is the humorous speech.
this speakers main purpose is to entertain the audience.
If you keep the audience laughing, you’ve done your job.

The 3rd type of speech is what Aristotle wrote about
Rhetoric – the art of expressive or persuasive speech –
we might call it the Motivational speech today.

Now you may think that we don’t hear too many motivational speeches these days , but let me suggest to you that each and every day we are inundated and pounded and beat upon with motivational messages – this is called —Advertising.
What is advertising? It’s a motivational speech, a motivational message
“Buy our product – buy what are selling.”

Do you want to looks as handsome and sexy as Carl?
Try “Lawyer” perfume and the women will be flocking to your side.
Now that particular product didn’t go over particularly well, but you know what I mean.

Nine times out of ten when we get up to speak we are giving a motivational speech.
We’ve got a message, we want to sell
we’ve got an idea, we want to sell,
we’ve got a product, we want to sell.
Who are we selling it to who?
The audience ————–We’re selling it to you.

Now Aristotle said there were three modes of persuasion in a speech:
3 way to persuade people to buy what you’re selling.
Pathos – Ethos – Logos

Pathos is the Passion, emotion, the energy and enthusiasm you put into your presentation.
All too often we see speakers, stuck behind the lectern, reading their carefully prepared notes,
saying that they are passionate, but their not showing us that their passion.
If you’re not excited about the product or idea, how can you expect the audience to be?

In advertising there’s a slogan that says…”Sell the sizzle, not the steak.”
Everybody’s got steak to sell – what you want to sell is the sizzle.

I went to the Pepsi.com website to see how they we’re sizzling Pepsi these days.
They’ve got Pepsi music, videos, and sports, you can become a fan on Facebook and Twitter,
In all they have 23 links you can click to go to various Pepsi web sites.
No where, no where does it say – “Drink Pepsi – it tastes good.”

You can have many faults as a speaker, you may be poorly dressed, have lots of ah’s and uh’s, but I guarantee that if you’re passionate about your subject, your audience will be riveted by your performance. They will remember you.

The 2nd point of Aristotle.
You need Logos or logic.
Is your speech logical? Does it makes sense?
What’s your evidence?.

Over my lifetime, I’ve heard speakers make all sorts of claims,
drink this bottle of “fill in the blank” and it will cure all your health problems.
Rub this potion into your scalp – you can grow hair – it didn’t work to well for me.

If you make a questionable statement, you need evidence to back it up.
The best evidence of course is from experts.
“Here’s what the experts say about this.”
Get statistics and facts. – “According to the Census Bureau it says – “

Husbands and wives know how to play this game.
We do it all the time.
Lets say Jack wants a new hi def 50″ TV to watch his favorite football games.
What tactic does he use?
Does he try pathos/passion – no he knows right away, that would never work.
He use logos – or logic.
“Honey, I was reading the other day how these old TVs really waste a lot of energy.
Did you know that even when they’re turned off, they use the power of a 75 watt light bulb?”
That’s really costing us quite a bit of money each month.
I’m wondering if  it’s time for us to go green, help the environment  and  prevent global warming by getting a more energy efficient TV.”
What does say?

The 3rd quality Aristotle said you need for a motivational speech is
Ethos or ethics. You need to be viewed as trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. You need the qualities of a good Boy Scout.

For most speakers this quality comes from years of contact with people and organizations and people start to know what sort of a person you are – and can you be trusted. Are you ethical?
If people believe in you, they will believe in your message.

If you’re doing a Q and A session and you don’t know the answer, don’t lie, don’t make something up, say “That’s a good question. I don’t have a the answer right now, but let me do a little research and I’ll find the answer for you.”

Now at this point I’m going to add my own factor to Aristotle’s list –

I call it – “Amigos”…the friendship factor,
Do people like you? Are you a friendly sort of person.
Are you smiling? Do you seem to be having fun and use lots of humor?
Do you have good rapport with your audience?

One of the easiest ways I’ve found to develop a friendly relationship with my audience is to arrive early wherever you’re speaking, get there 30 to 60 minutes ahead of time,
and talk to as many people as possible.
Shake hands with everyone, so you have that bond with as many people as possible.
So when you get up to speak, you’re not talking to strangers, you’re talking to friends.

In Conclusion:
My friends in 2400 years –  the motivational speech really hasn’t changed that much.

If you follow Aristotle’s formula of
Pathos – Logos – and Ethos and add in the
Amigos factor and I guarantee you will have a winning speech.

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About Tom Terrific

Interested in MANY things.
This entry was posted in Presentation Skills, public speaking, Selling. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Aristotle’s Rules for Persuasive Speech

  1. Vimax Diets says:

    Normally I do not learn article on blogs, however I would like to say that this write-up very pressured me to check out and do so!
    Your writing style has been amazed me. Thanks, quite great post.

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