Archive for January, 2009

Persuasive Appeals – Do It With Feeling!

January 8th, 2009 | Written by: John Burry

Persuasion depends on three basic “appeals”: credibility, emotion and logic.  This was news about 2000 years ago, when Aristotle defined these appeals as: ethos, pathos and logos (the three Greek musketeers of persuasion).  Though they’re now somewhat more refined and sophisticated, they’re still serviceable today because human nature (sadly) hasn’t really changed much in the intervening years. To be persuasive you have to use at least one, and preferably all three of these appeals – and notice that two of the three are emotional appeals:

  • convince the audience you’re trustworthy (ethos)
  • stir the audience’s emotions (pathos)
  • provide logical arguments and solid supporting evidence (logos).

The mistake many business writers and presenters make is assuming that you can persuade an audience using just logical arguments.  Unfortunately, psychologists tell us that those swayed by arguments alone are those who support the appeal before it is even presented – in other words, they’re the people who are using your arguments to reinforce their own biases or to bolster their uncertainties.  (It’s also why the most avid readers of the new car ad are those who have already bought the car – see cognitive dissonance.) Continue Reading »

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