42: Using Rhetoric and the Power of Persuasion.

Hi, I’m Elaine A. Clark – actor, author, app creator, podcaster, speech communication coach, and entrepreneur. Listing my background outlines my authority and ethos, which is the focus of this episode.

Ethos is one of three powerful rhetorical components and the foundation of writing and speaking.

  • Ethos establishes the speaker’s tone, style, status, ethical standards, credibility, and believability.
  • It’s the speaker’s job to sound authoritative and support the personal ‘WHY’ belief regardless if it’s their own message or someone else’s words.
  • When delivering a speech, presentation, or voice-over script written by someone else, many speakers lose their personal connection to the message. The result is a lack of ethos and audience disconnection with the speaker and information.

Join me, along with and some wise tips from Aristotle, on how to own your Ethos!

Practice along with this Real Talking Tips video, audio podcast, blog, my Elaine Clark app – Activate Your Voice, my best selling books, There’s Money Where Your Mouth Is and Voice-Overs for Podcasting, and continue adding variety to your speaking voice in my Elaine Clark app, Adding Melody To Your Voice!

Click the video to watch or select the audio podcast by clicking start or selecting your favorite audio player in the icon below.

42: Using Rhetoric and the Power of Persuasion.

Real Talking Tips 42 begins a new 4-part series on the POWER OF PERSUASION. There are three primary modes of persuasion: ETHOS, LOGOS, and PATHOS. These three elements of persuasion are powerful rhetorical components and the foundation of writing and speaking. Rhetoric, while sometimes used negatively or dismissively when referring to someone with opposing views, is essential to effective and inspiring communication.

If this sounds Greek to you, that’s probably because the philosopher and playwright Aristotle was Greek. Back in the day… and I mean waaay back, Aristotle came up with the concept of using rhetoric to defend his personal observations of Aristophanes and Plato and his perceptions of their injustices and distorted truths. He went on to state that if truth and justice are defeated the blame falls on the speaker. WOW! That’s a lot of personal responsibility.

Before we move onto the next section, I leave you with two Aristotle quotes:

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”


“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”


RTT 42 1
#1 Power of Persuasion: ETHOS.

Ethos establishes the speaker’s tone, style, status, and ethical standards. A speaker’s ethos should project credibility and believability.

Academics divide ETHOSs into two components.

– The speaker’s background, experience, expertise, education, and overall character.

– HOW the message is spoken and written.

Referring back to our old pal Aristotle, he categorized Ethos in THREE TYPES: Arête, Phronesis, and Eunoia. The words for these ethos types are Greek to me. So, let’s move those ancient words into present day terminology.

The THREE ETHOS VALUES simply mean that the speaker’s projected character should be:
1. Good and Virtuous

2. Intelligent, Experienced, and Wise

3. Show Goodwill, Trust, and Credibility
Only then, can the audience be persuaded by the speaker.

Ethos is our History. It reflects how we were raised, educational background, what we studied, places we visited, experiences we had along the way, family life, friends, cultural influences, job experience, and years in business. All that life experience is foundational to our ethical behavior. It’s what gives us ‘street cred’.

Now here’s the rub. We’re often asked to read someone else’s words or talk about an issue, business or situation we haven’t personally experienced. The default for most speakers is to strip away their ethos and not share their personal knowledge and experience intrinsically or extrinsically. The result is a loss of trust, credibility, and personal opinion as the speaker retreats into a safe “NEUTRAL” zone that sounds detached, untruthful, and lacks the believable status and authority that is required of that ethos level.

I’m often called the ‘re-programmer’ by many of the business execs, podcasters, and voice actors that I coach. One of the first things I listen for is whether or not the speaker exudes the ethos required in that situation.

Everyone has ethos. Everyone has a personal history. It’s the individual speaker’s job to connect with that personal history and share it with the audience. It’s the very essence of WHY people want to listen to them and take their advice.

Let’s begin this awareness and reprogramming process by digging into your personal Ethos and trusting it to connect with your audience.


RTT 42 2

Speak with Authority and Credibility so Audiences Accept Your Advice and Information.

Where does the ETHOS go?

  • When you chat with friends and family, it’s there.
  • When you talk to co-workers or people who share common interests, it’s there.
  • In groups, the status of each speaker is shared as people take turns adding their thoughts and opinions.

Instinctively, you have beliefs that, while not always agreed on by others, are supported by and based on your personal history, geographic location, and life experiences.

It’s the speaker’s job to support the personal ‘WHY’ belief in their statements regardless if it’s their own message or someone else’s words they’re required to say.

This is what I think. If you grew up with a strong ethical framework, saying someone else’s words feels wrong. The frontal lobe and cerebral cortex kick in and the speaker’s response choice is one of 4: fight, flight, freeze, or do. When the ‘DO’ is required of the speaker, that speaker has to reprogram their brain to allow that to happen. A new HABIT and SPONTANEOUS RESPONSE needs to replace the push back and neutrality with trust and belief from an authoritative status level.

Here’s your assignment.

Next time you read a script, teach a class, make a presentation, record a podcast, deliver the news, or talk to your children, don’t think about the individual words. Connect with the overall message.

Example 1: If the story is about HOPE, connect with that story of hope in your own personal life as you say the words that are required to be spoken.

Example 2: If the story is about CONVENIENCE, remember how you felt and benefited from that convenience.

These are the universal truths that we all possess. The words we say are not as important as the reason WHY we say them. Develop that habit.


Join me next time in Real Talking Tips Episode 43 as we dig into LOGOS in this Power of Persuasion 4-part series.


  • Please take a moment to click the YouTube video to Subscribe and Ring the Bell for notifications.
  • Listen and download the audio Real Talking Tips podcast in Apple Podcasts, TuneIn, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Outcast, and Deezer.
  • Check out the elaineclarkvo.com/podcast page to view the blog, watch the video, listen, and share the episode with your friends and colleagues using the social media links located at the bottom of the page.