Ethos, Pathos, and Logos: Importance in Public Speaking

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  • 0:03 Modes of Persuasion
  • 1:01 Ethos
  • 3:07 Pathos
  • 4:08 Logos
  • 5:40 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Cathryn Jackson

Cat has taught a variety of subjects, including communications, mathematics, and technology. Cat has a master's degree in education and is currently working on her Ph.D.

Ethos, pathos, and logos are the foundation modes of persuasion, also known as appeals. In this lesson, you will learn about the different modes of persuasion and how to incorporate them into your speech.

Modes of Persuasion

James is running for class president at his high school. He has to give a persuasive speech to the school about why he should be selected as the best candidate.

After the speeches, James' friend Angelique hands a survey out to all of the students asking them to compare the candidates. They felt that James' statements made a lot of sense, but they don't really trust or relate to him as a candidate. How can James improve his speech to better persuade his audience?

James needs to understand the modes of persuasion.

In this lesson, you will learn the three key modes of persuasion: ethos, pathos, and logos. Ethos means credibility. Pathos means empathy or emotion, and logos means logic. The study of the modes of persuasion were originally discussed by the Greek philosopher Aristotle. Let's explore the meaning of each of these concepts more in depth and how they apply to persuasive speaking.


Aristotle's first element of persuasion is ethos, or the speaker's credibility.

If you think about it, you are constantly being bombarded by persuasive strategies. Many of these strategies depend on the ethos of certain people to persuade you to buy a product, sign a petition, do business with a certain company, and so on. You'll see companies use ethos in the form of celebrity endorsements, doctors' or dentists' recommendations, or testimony from people that have experienced the benefits of a product or an excellent service.

How do you establish ethos in your speech? You can establish credibility with your audience by mentioning your expertise in the particular field in which you are speaking. Ethos can also refer to the reputation of the speaker. If you have a positive reputation or are an expert in the topic area of your speech, then that can help establish credibility in your speech. You can also try to establish goodwill with the audience by reassuring the audience that you have their best interests in mind. You will also want to avoid using vague and informal language and instead use formal language and specific terminology in your speech.

When James' friend Angelique conducted her survey, some of the students said they didn't really trust or relate to James as a candidate. James is lacking ethos in his persuasive approach to his campaign. James can develop ethos in his persuasive speech by delivering his speech with a formal tone. He can also gain credibility with his audience by not using terms like 'stuff' and 'things.' Relating to the audience by mentioning common frustrations among the students is a good way for James to establish goodwill towards the student body. He may want to mention previous leadership experience or maybe ways in which he has already helped the school to establish his expertise in the subject area.


Pathos refers to the emotional appeal of the speaker. When you think of pathos, think of empathy. Be passionate about the topic and use extended examples and testimony to create emotional appeal in your speech. You can create emotional appeal in your speech by using an emotional tone in your speech or by bringing up topics that the audience will have strong feelings about.

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