Episode 44: Art of Persuasion Requires Pathos.

PATHOS is the third episode in this Real Talking TipsPOWER OF PERSUASION – series. Pathos is the emotional addition to the authoritative ETHOS and logical LOGOS rhetorical elements discussed in Real Talking Tips episodes 42 and 43.

At the core of Pathos is an emotional appeal to evoke a feeling from the audience. Pathos also lends an imaginative and storytelling quality that can open up people’s minds and hearts to past, present, and future possibilities.

Follow along as we explore how to recognize and emotionally connect with pathos as
1. The primary rhetorical component
2. Combined with logos
3. Used sparingly

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44: Art of Persuasion Requires Pathos.

Aristotle said:
“A speaker who is attempting to move people to thought or action
must concern himself with Pathos.”

That’s right, PATHOS is the 3rd of 4 Real Talking Tips POWER OF PERSUASION episodes. The two previous Real Talking Tips episodes explored authoritative ETHOS and logical LOGOS.

In current times, pathos is defined as showing emotion. The Greek word for pathos means ‘suffering’. 16th century actors and speakers used the word Pathos when referring to dramatic emotions depicted in a tragedy. At the core of pathos is an emotional appeal to evoke a feeling from the audience.

Pathos engages the artistic right side of the brain as well as the heart and gut. It can be compassionate, sorrowful, happy, concerned, angry, jealous, motivated, or any other actual life experience where emotion is expressed.

Emotion is extremely persuasive as feelings offer the personal opportunity to provide an opinion. That opinion ties back into the speaker’s authority and why a person’s ETHOS sets the stage for a persuasive argument.

Power of Persuasion - PATHOS

#3 Power of Persuasion: PATHOS.

When referring to politics, Aristotle made this statement:
“Whereas the law is passionless,
passion must ever sway the heart of man.”

So, LOGOS provides the foundation and PATHOS has the power to sway the result.

Let’s use advertising as an example. Logically, a candy bar is empty calories. Yet, it’s sold to us emotionally as a reward, energy, or fun. Likewise, sodas are advertised as a social or personal experience rather than carbonated empty calories. If emotion sold vegetables, we would have broccoli and cauliflower in the checkout area of the grocery store rather than off to the side of the store! People are impulsive. That’s why emotional impulse products that we don’t necessarily need surround us as we wait in line to check out.

How information is balanced is based on the amount of substantive facts.

• LESS Facts requires MORE Emotion to persuade the audience.

• MORE Facts needs LESS Emotion to persuade as the facts speak for themself.

Not recognizing or embracing the difference in the amount of pathos and logos can trip up a speaker. Often, speakers look at a pathos script and say, ‘This information doesn’t make sense.’ Well of course it doesn’t make sense, it’s an emotional plea. And, since emotion is neither right nor wrong, emotion is needed to support the message.


Balancing one’s pathos when speaking is based on the amount and truthfulness of the facts that are used to substantiate the claim. The less LOGOS the more PATHOS, and vice versa.

Let’s look at some clues to finding and sharing pathos with an audience.


PATHOS = Feelings The Move People Emotionally.

Pathos is emotional and imaginative. Pathos is a storytelling quality that opens up people’s minds and hearts to past events, present situations, and future possibilities.

The following are three examples of how pathos can be used as the primary, shared, or minimal rhetorical appeal.

  1. Pathos as the Primary Rhetoric [proud]: “The salespeople are always friendly and helpful.”
  2. Pathos and Logos Combined [proud and logical]: “The friendly and helpful salespeople sold $10,000 worth of merchandise in the first quarter.”
  3. Pathos Lightly Sprinkled In [logical, accepting, logical]: “Our employees sold $10,000 worth of merchandise more than last quarter.”

So, here’s your assignment:

When you read a script or make a presentation, be aware of the amount of emotional pathos that’s required. If the information doesn’t make complete logical sense, the message is more emotional. If the message is laden with logical statements, you need to find little words between the logic to share your opinion and emotion.

In Real Talking Tips Episode 45 – Power of Persuasion, we’re going to put all three rhetorical appeals together.


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