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Presentation Secrets: Do What you Never Thought Possible With Your Presentations by Alexei Kapterev

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STORY

Everyone who studies public speaking sooner or later gets to Aristotle's Rhetoric. It is hardly a joyful read, so I'll just give you one concept from it. Aristotle says that there are three modes of persuasion: logos, pathos, and ethos. Logos is an appeal to the rational, pathos is an appeal to the emotional, and ethos is an appeal to the personality, which are the qualities of the speaker. That was in the 4th century B.C. Unfortunately, in the centuries that followed, scholars of rhetoric perfected logos and ethos and rejected pathos. You can see their attempts to appeal to pathos in the New Oxford American Dictionary, which gives the second definition for the word “rhetoric” as “language designed to have a persuasive or impressive effect on its audience, but often regarded as lacking in sincerity or meaningful content.” Well, pathetic.

I think I know precisely what led to this. It seems that scholars of rhetoric deal with pathos because they think they have to, not because they truly want to. Public speakers always put themselves in opposition to poets. In their eyes they were decision makers and the seekers of truth, while poets were lowly entertainers. But canons of public speaking always included entertainment. Hence, the classical Roman docere, movere, delectare (educate, motivate, entertain), but only because the public demanded entertainment. Speakers would love to just inform and motivate, but, unfortunately, this isn't an option. So, they struggle with it, poor ...

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