Public speaking is more than just writing a script and reading from it. Being a successful and influential speaker stems from our ability to appeal to an audience on a personal level.
- ETHOS can be identified with five primary core characteristics
- Open authority
- Similar connections with the audience
- Using ethos while speaking comes down to your successful ability to utilize these characteristics to reach your target audience on an ethical level.
Sometimes, that can be hard to do. But that’s where ethos comes in.
I’ll let you know everything you should know about the art of ethos and how to apply it properly.
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The Three Pillars Of Public Speaking
In today’s world, we are usually preoccupied with the newest technologies and trends. But some things never change. And an ancient aspect of speaking that remains valid to this day is the concept of ETHOS.
Perhaps you don’t know precisely what ethos is. It all started over two thousand years ago with the Greek philosopher Aristotle. He established the three rhetorical appeals of persuasive speaking.
These three persuasive appeals are known as ethos, pathos, and logos.
Let’s begin this discussion with the concept of ethos.
What Is ETHOS?
As an experienced emcee, I can understand what it takes to be a successful speaker. However, connecting with your audience is more than sharing a motivational quote and hoping they like you.
As a speaker, reaching an audience is more than just your words. Your speech must contain the persuasive appeals necessary to build a strong connection with your audience members.
The foundation of this starts with ethos. Ethos can be plainly defined as the credibility or character of a speaker.
We can think about applying ethos this way:
- Even a strong argument or convincing story will fall on deaf ears if the speaker has no established ethos. If the audience doesn’t see you, the speaker, as CREDIBLE, TRUSTWORTHY, or RELATABLE, your speech has already failed.
Keep in mind your own view of yourself is irrelevant. Even if you’re armed with robust confidence and feel empowered by your argument, that doesn’t mean the audience will have the same opinion of you.
Ethos is an intriguing and exceptionally essential aspect of successful speaking and communication. But you can’t fully understand the role of ethos without recognizing the importance of pathos and logos.
Find An Emotional Response With PATHOS
If ETHOS reaches listeners by establishing credibility and trustworthiness, PATHOS appeals to an audience emotionally.
Appealing to an audience’s emotions is a great way to reach your desired outcome as a speaker. Building a strong emotional connection with your listeners can significantly enhance your ability to persuade them.
Emotion is incredibly powerful. A potent emotional response can sometimes even outshine logic or common sense. As a speaker, you can create a strong emotional appeal in your words by incorporating an impassioned plea or convincing story.
Provide A Logical Argument With LOGOS
The relative opposite of an emotional response is a logical appeal. And here we have logos.
Reaching for emotional responses can only get you so far. You need to establish sound and factual, logical arguments and provide apparent proof to bring your message home.
Your speech needs to make a good point. If your argument doesn’t make sense, your audience won’t listen!
Some say you “buy” your audience with emotion (pathos) and justify it with facts (logos). But any speech needs at least a little of all three appeals.
When you establish and increase ETHOS, that’s when public persuasion can thrive. But to do this, you need to actively practice the characteristics of someone strong in ethos.
The Characteristics Of A Speaker With ETHOS
The makings of a great speech utilize numerous features and strategies to successfully appeal to an audience. ETHOS is an essential aspect of a speaker, and it is vital to selling your message.
Ethos can come down to five core qualities.
#1. E – Expertise And Reputation
Ethos can be defined as the extent to which an audience believes what you say. And you can appeal to their ability to trust your words in a few different ways.
We can divide this up into two separate categories; EXPERTISE and REPUTATION.
- EXPERTISE is what you know about the topic you are about to speak on.
- REPUTATION is what your audience knows about your knowledge of the topic.
Your level of expertise and experience will have a hand in determining your reputation. We all know that reputable sources are more likely to be believed and listened to. The same goes for reputable speakers.
A notable or experienced figure will have a higher level of expertise than someone relatively new to the same field. A popular celebrity likely has a more impressive reputation than someone unheard of.
For example, as an experienced and awarded event emcee, I have a solid and trustworthy reputation that helps establish my ETHOS.
A common way that people perceive expertise is by comparing factors such as years of experience, demonstrated skills, and achievements. For example, take these two speakers:
- Speaker A has over three decades of experience in the field and has consistently turned an incredible profit year over year despite market declines.
- Speaker B is a new yet hard-working member of the field and has an appealing personal character.
It’s safe to say that Speaker A has a more robust established level of expertise which can likely translate to a better industry reputation.
To establish ETHOS as a speaker, you must establish credibility and demonstrate your expertise. In today’s world, this includes growing your personal brand and successfully marketing yourself.
And that’s the start of building your ethos!
#2. T – Trust And Reliability
Ethos is primarily defined by your audience’s ability to trust your words.
This is common sense. If your listeners don’t trust what you have to say, your speech will be a failure. And on the other hand, if your audience has complete and profound trust in you and your personal character, they will be much more receptive to what you’re saying.
An ideal candidate shows good character and strong ethics. Your audience will make up their own minds on whether or not they believe you possess these critical qualities.
In short, be a good person!
The best speakers behave cordially, friendly, and comfortably. And they don’t resort to crude or inappropriate conversations. This divides the audience and is easy to destroy any ethos you’ve already built.
Focus on spreading positive emotions and demonstrating your good personal character. Without establishing trustworthiness, your ethos will never grow.
Bonus: Roles & Responsibilities Of A Discussion Moderator
#3. H – Honesty
If ethos requires trust from the audience, then it requires honesty from you.
Nothing destroys trust faster than being caught in a lie. Throughout our lives, we’ve all been lied to at least once. And whenever we discover this betrayal, it becomes impossible to trust that person again.
If you lie to your audience, you can never expect them to trust you. Your HONESTY will be destroyed if you falsify achievements or fabricate experience to grow your EXPERTISE. Then, your listeners will never open up to you again.
It’s simple. Just tell the truth!
#4. O – Open Authority
Having open authority is the ability to have an audience listen to you just because of who you are.
As a speaker, you already have a certain level of authority. But any formal or moral authority you may have can serve to increase your ethos this way.
There are quite a few different types of authority. Some examples include:
- Political, like the president or a government official
- Organizational, like your company’s CEO or your supervisor
- Religious, like a pastor or priest
- Educational, like a professor
- Elder, like someone older than we are
Remember that holding the microphone is enough to give you a certain level of authority. You’re the speaker here!
#5. S – Similarities With The Audience
We are hard-wired to be drawn to people that are similar to us. This can be either actual similarity or perceived similarity, but the idea is still the same.
It’s a natural phenomenon. We can develop a higher level of trust with those that we share similarities with.
We can find examples of similarities in the following:
- Age, gender, or race
- Socio-economic status
- Where we are from
- Our career or professional passions
- Personality or character
Suppose we can establish similarities with our audience. Great! It will be easier to establish trust and ETHOS if we can connect with our listeners via our similarities.
If you’re lacking in similarities, that’s okay too. That’s where perceived similarity comes in. But you may need to change your personal style, mannerisms, or language/body language to fit in with who you’re speaking to.
It’s important to analyze your audience in this case. This will allow you to identify similarities to empathize and qualities you should demonstrate.
Demonstrating ETHOS In Your Speech
Ethos isn’t a box you can check off when you believe you’ve attained it. Ethos is an art, and you never truly stop reaching for it!
It can be hard to know where to begin in expanding your ethos. So, here are a few of my favorite tips and tricks for increasing your ethos that will be sure to help you the next time you’re speaking!
- Focus on building your personal brand (this is a constant task)
- Know how to market yourself successfully
- When you speak, use language that is similar to what the audience uses daily
- If you make promises during your speech, follow them through
- Tell stories or anecdotes that establish your credibility and trustworthiness
It would be best if you never stopped working to build your ethos. Keep this knowledge in mind, and it will pay off!
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Adam Christing has been called “The Tom Brady of emcees.” He has hosted more than 1,000 company meetings, special events, gala celebrations, and more. He is the author of several books and founder of CleanComedians.com. For more event tips, follow Adam Christing on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube.