Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ancient Rhetorical Concepts Relate to the Presidential Election

As a communications expert and coach, the whole Presidential election process has been fascinating to watch and listen to.

During the upcoming presidental and vice presidential debates, I urge all of you to think about the principles that the great Greek philosopher and father of all public speaking -- Aristotle -- identified. They are: Logos, Pathos and Ethos. And, think of how you are personally responding to each concept.

Logos is the Greek word for Logic. That means how the candidates (president and vice president) are structuring their messages. Keep in mind that facts and figures, which we think always should be logical, are often manipulated or partial truths.

Do your due diligence, so you’re getting more than clever sound bites. Look at their voting records, backgrounds, etc.

Pathos translates into emotional appeals – information that hits close to your heart and gut. Clearly, your values come into play here. The goal of the candidates and their front teams is to hit those hot buttons (like terrorism, the economy, government involvement and health care) -- so you’ll take action, ie. vote for them.

The third concept Aristotle identified is Ethos, which loosely translates into credibility. We tend to believe the person who we perceive to be the most credible, ethical and shares the same values.

The question is do they really share those values? Are they just espousing this, or do their actions demonstrate them?

The candidates are using Aristotle’s three speaking principles in their commercials and public presentations.

So, as you watch and listen to the first Presidential debate next Friday, September 26th, and subsequent debates, pay attention to how these three principles are relevant even today and note how you are being influenced by them.

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