The Aristotle’s Persuasive Appeals in Public Speaking

We already got to know from our previous lesson on public speaking that, one of the great philosophers in the history of the world was also a great public speaker. Most philosophers are public speakers but this philosopher went to the extent of generating ways and means to derive successfully in public speaking. This lesson is going to be about Aristotle’s persuasive appeals in public speaking.

The Aristotle's Persuasive Appeals in Public Speaking
Aristotle’s Persuasive Appeals in Public Speaking by

Aristotle contributed much to the development of public speaking. From the previous lesson, we got to know Aristotle’s model of communication thus how information is conveyed and how it gets to a receiver paving way for a reaction or feedback. Aristotle didn’t end there, he knew being a public speaker would be a challenge for some people in our generation and he proceeded to develop his persuasive appeals in public speaking which are now studied in every area of public speaking.

According to, Aristotle argued that there are three main basic ways to make a persuasive appeal and thus through ethos, logos, and pathos. defines persuasive appeals as “​the convincing arguments an author uses to appeal to the reader’s sense of logic, ethics, and emotion. These are used to persuade the reader to act or agree with the author’s point of view”. The persuasive was therefore developed mainly for speakers and the aim is to influence your audience with whatever information you carry. There are three main categories of Aristotle’s persuasive appeals as stated already; Ethos, Pathos, and Logos. These appeals according to the philosopher would help a speaker to compose his or her message in a manner that would influence the listeners.


Ethos was derived from an ancient Greek word that means character. Ethos in public speaking refers to the moral character or attitude of the speaker including his or her personality. The measures, the qualification, dignity, and competence of the speaker is a determinants of ethos. Ethos is the first thing a public speaker must possess before any other public speaking skills. It also includes the credibility of the speaker. Let us take for example the president of the United States of America delivering the state of the nation address of Nigeria; If you are thinking the same way as mine, then we are right to say “it is not possible”. Though the president of the USA has more credibility but the speech he would deliver in Nigeria doesn’t correspond to his expertise and credibility. He might be able to do it but it would never be the same as the president of Nigeria who knows exactly the affairs of his country. The people of Nigeria would find it difficult to give the same attention to the US president as their president.

The Aristotle's Persuasive Appeals in Public Speaking
Aristotle’s Persuasive Appeals in Public Speaking by

This same case in the application of ethos. Your audience must know that you have all the expertise to handle such information you would deliver. There are several ways of building credibility as a public speaker;

By showing your audience personal moral standards

By stressing expertise on a certain topic

By showing your audience the trustworthiness, you carry.

Ethos can be built through testimonials and celebrity endorsement. Testimonials here imply that people with higher reputations give a good testimony about you by recommending you as well. In this case, people would be eager to listen to everything you say. Celebrity endorsement is just like testimonials. Have you been seeing the television advertisements now featured by most celebrities? Take Pepsi for example, Messi, Pogba, and Mohammed Salah who feature in the adverts of the company; people love celebrities a lot and when a celebrity endorses a product in an advert, they are indirectly building the ethos of the company.


Have you ever observed and realized that people believe more in scientific processes? People are easily influenced when you use facts and statistics to argue your points. That is the role of logos in Aristotle’s persuasive appeals. Logos are the facts and statistics included in a speaker’s speech to persuade the listeners.

Many famous speakers like presidents and political readers make use of logos on many occasions. Most of their speeches are crowded with figures, scientific facts, and theories which help them to move the emotions of the speakers.


This is the last persuasive appeal the great philosopher Aristotle deployed to aid public speakers in persuading the audience. Whiles ethos and logos are directed at the speakers, pathos is mainly directed at the audience. This is where after applying logos and ethos, you ought to make your persuasion successful by influencing your audience.

After delivering your speech, what final words do you intend to give your audience? What is the take-home message you would want your audience to grab? These are all questions pathos answers and helps to execute. You might be a speaker at a gathering where you need to motivate the gathering, you must end your speech with some words that will move the emotions of the audience to follow whatever you say.

The Aristotle's Persuasive Appeals in Public Speaking
The Aristotle’s Persuasive Appeals in Public Speaking by

There are two main ways of invoking pathos in your audience;

Vivid Description

Emotionally charged words eg… together we can help make this project a successful one…

These are the three persuasive appeals Aristotle developed for public speakers. Keep applying these appeals in your works and with time, you would be amongst the best speakers in your class. You can apply them in your class presentations as well.

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