IWTYTS – Ethos and the Science of Persuasion

Part of what I believe my responsibility is with “I Will Teach You To Speak” is to support those who have great messages, who have ideas and abilities that that if coupled with persuasion could yield real world change. And I’m such a champion for those people because influence and rhetoric is a skill that can be acquired, not some inherent trait confined to our genes and those people who find themselves in the lucky sperm club.

In fact, it was over 2000 years ago that one of the worlds most renown Philosophers, proved that anyone could learn to influence. In Arabic Philosophy he’s touted as the first teacher, and in the western world as THE Philosopher. Aristotle, introduced a science to rhetoric and persuasion. He introduced a clear and repeatable formula for

Aristolte image

those curious enough to improve their careers, get the girl of their dreams, and make the world a better place with their communication. I’ve taken advantage of his teachings and I hope you do too.

There’s three essential pillars to Aristoles science of persuasion, Ethos, Pathos and logos.

In this article we explore how you can immediately start implementing one of my favourite tools of persuasion, ethos! And if you’re not, why you should reconsider your approach at communication to insert these essential tools starting today.

Ethos translates to credibility.

You know when you walk into the doctors office and they have 5 certificates on the wall demonstrating all of their accolades and education? They’re using ethos or credibility as a form of influencing you to believe their suggestions will be true and acceptable.

We need to do the same thing as communicators.

When you get up on stage, here are a few areas to focus on so that you can demonstrate more credibility and make it much more likely that your audience will agree with you and be persuaded.

Authority

Fortunately as a speaker you will inherently have authority. Someone chose you to be on stage her today to speak on the subject of x, y or z! In addition, I’d also challenge you to consider your non verbal communications and how your body language is increasing or taking away from your authority with the audience. Relaxed shoulders, strong posture, and firmly planted feet are all excellent indicators that you’re sharp as a tact and an expert worth listening to.

Reputation

Reputation relates to your experience and expertise. The audience is much more likely to listen to the speaker who’s written a best selling book and has 15 years of experience in the industry vs someone who’s fresh out of college with no reputation. It’s absolutely critical that you never stop learning, growing and cultivating new insight as a communicator.

me and marc c.JPG

When I asked my CEO early into my new career how he got where he is, he said that he started exactly where I was starting as an entry level salesmen. From there he became such a product expert on what he was selling that not only did he become the #1 salesmen in the entire company and become a millionaire, conferences in the medical equipment industry around North America would seek him out frequently to speak at their events. He developed the reputation of an expert and his influence followed.

Trustworthiness

Being trustworthy is as simple as coming across as an honest, ethical, and genuine human being. You can accomplish this through:

  • Simling
  • Being genuine to your story
  • Maintaining eye contact
  • Having open non verbal communication
  • Saying things like, “I pride myself on my long term relationships” or “I pride myself on doing whats right by my customers”

Similarity

Can you find common ground with your audience? Can see you life, problems and possible solutions through their eyes? Take the time before presentations, sales calls or your next meeting to feel empathy and attempt to step into their shoes, it’s powerful. By forming common ground, they are way more likely to identify with you and be receptive of your messages. In addition, use strategies like adapting your language, mannerisms, style, dress, etc. to identify with your audience while still remaining genuine (don’t take it too far).

Let’s jump back to the horses mouth before I give you a real challenge to start using today.

Aristotle said 2000 years ago that,

“If any of these elements of credibility were missing, if there was any question whatsoever about your character as a person, your practical intelligence on this specific subject, or good will, than the audience will question and doubt that what you’re saying is the best suggestion with the purest of intentions.”

So now that you know how important credibility and ethos are… Here’s what I want you to do.

Do This.

1. Become an expert. Develop deep expertise in the topics you speak about. As Gary V would say, “stay in your lane.” If you do that, your expertise will be enough to help differentiate you from other speakers.
2. Analyze your audience and have empathy for them. If you can find common ground or get them to say, “he understands me or he’s just like me” you will find your audience will be much more receptive than ever before.
3. Show up early to welcome the audience. It builds trust and shows you care.
4. Remember something a previous speaker said, repeat it and give them credit.
6. Stay late and make yourself available for the audience, organizer and any questions.

I’m in agreement with Aristotle when he said that if you display all these traits of credibility, it cannot rationally be doubted that your suggestions are credible.

Do yourself a favour, become an expert, go the extra mile to understand who’s in the audience and than show it. If you do, credibility will become a powerful tool for you on the path to influence.

Till next time stay on the offensive. Aggressively pursue a better version of yourself. And remember what Jim Rohn said, “You cannot change the destination of your life overnight but you can change the direction.”

Jonathan Andrews

Out.

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