Man-1: I came here for a good discussion!
Man-2: Oh no you didn’t, you came here for an argument!
Man-1: An argument is not just a contradiction.
Man-2: Well, it COULD be!
Man-1: No, you can’t! An argument is a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition.
Man-2: No, it’s not!
This is a topic near and dear to my heart. As a graduate of the Faculty of
Communications at Ohio University, I studied interpersonal communications
which I found fascinating and has served me well in my business career. Currently,
I see very little emphasis on sharpening students’ oral skills. Institute
typically spend little time in this area, as do universities (apart from Communications
schools as OU’s). Consequently, we are developing a generation of dysfunctional
people in the workplace who don’t know how to work with other people.
The key to speech is the art of persuasion it takes to lead
people, sell ideas or products, conduct negotiations and simply discuss
to point However, instead of calm rhetorical speech, I have watched heated
discussions in the boardroom, in the office and in life in general, with
personal relationships become victims of such debate. This was
very evident in the last presidential elections, as well as in Congress today.
A substantial part of the problem is that people do not grasp the
foundations of persuasion. For some it’s easy, for others it’s
difficult to assimilate. First, we have to understand that to formulate
a persuasive speech is hard work. For example, Winston Churchill was
well known for his eloquence as a speaker. But few understood the amount
of the effort that Churchill put into his speeches. He would work late at the
night writing and rewriting his talks. It was common for her to carry papers
of paper in his coat pocket to jot down the key phrases he wanted
spent. Furthermore, he rehearsed his speeches over and over again until he managed to
the tone and inflection he thought would have the most dramatic effect. A
strangers, Churchill seemed to be a great extemporaneous orator with
creepy quotes and catchy phrases; Actually, everything was well rehearsed.
THE THREE CANONS OF SPEECH
Preparations and rehearsals are important, but so is the content. Formulate
a persuasive speech, the speaker must be aware of the three basic concepts
ways of speaking: Ethos, Pathos and Logos.
Ethos is simply an appellation based on the character of the speaker. An ethos driven
the speech is based on the credibility and reputation of the speaker. Basically a
discourse based on ethos says, “If you trust me, then you will support my point of view.”
view.” This is why sponsors are important in persuasion. For example,
the reputation of a current or former CEO carries more weight on a board
discussion room than that of an employee. This is also the reason why we bow down to people with
more experience or seniority. However, the only caveat here is that
if the speaker’s integrity is in question, so is his argument. Also, don’t
become dependent on the use of ethos-based arguments, if ever tested
wrong, your reputation and credibility will be tarnished.
“Once a reputation is broken, it may be mended, but the world
always keep your eyes on the place where the crack was.”
Logos is a resource based on logic or reason. business proposals and
corporate reviews are often logo-driven, much like an academic thesis.
Basically, a logo-based argument exhibits geometric features, such as:
If A = B
The danger here is to develop a weak or convoluted argument that is
perceived as illogical or difficult for the audience to understand. For
Communists are people.
Americans are people.
Therefore, all Americans are communists.
Logos is vital to the credibility of your argument which must be carefully
built with basic building blocks of common sense.
Logical speech is an effective way to communicate your thoughts,
but it is important to know your audience when presenting such ideas.
“It is dangerous to be right in matters in which the
the established authorities are wrong.”
Pathos is an appeal based on emotion. Sales and promotional advertising
makes active use of emotional appeal by eliciting human desires, particularly
greed. The intention is to motivate people to take action. As such, a driven pathos
the argument is probably the strongest canon of speech. Even if a logo based
argument is logically sound, it will fall on deaf ears compared to a
argument based on ethos. Motivational speeches are often based on ethos. trainers,
managers and political leaders make extensive use of pathos
speeches. As an example, consider Franklin Roosevelt’s “fireside talks” that
assured the American public during the Great Depression and World War II.
The only problem here is that truth is not a requirement for an ethos based on
plot. To illustrate, Adolf Hitler was able to motivate the German people
to develop a military state, but his speech was often full of lies. Also,
advertising often substitutes substance for facade, and as such the public
must exercise “caveat emptor” (buyer beware). Apart of this,
Pathos is a great way to get your point across.
“Whenever you find the humor, you find the pathos close to it.”
-Edwin P. Whipple
Rarely will anyone rely on a single canon of expression. Instead, a good argument
makes use of all three to convey a point. Churchill, for example, often relied
on his reputation as a senior statesman to express his point of view, in addition to presenting
arguments that appeal to logic and emotion. A careful mix of the three canons of
speech, spoken at the right time and place, can work wonders.
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
Fundamental to all of this is a clear understanding of your audience in terms of
your knowledge, intelligence, “hot spots,” moral values, interests,
and their place in society. The more you know about your target audience,
the better you will be able to prepare an effective argument. never forget that you
speak to communicate As such, you must speak at the level of your
heard, neither above nor below. I seriously doubt that you will impress a
group of grape pickers using a vernacular collected at MIT. If you want
persuade people, choose your words carefully.
“Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but much harder
still, stop saying the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”
THE NEED FOR ORGANIZATION
Finally, organize your argument carefully. I am a great believer in
concept of “Tell your audience what you are going to tell them;
Tell them, then; I’ll tell you what you told them.” A speech without
management is going nowhere fast. This means that it must have an Introduction,
a body and a summary to conclude your argument.
Obviously, the above discussion is equally applicable to both writing and
Spoken word. The point here is that the more we know about the
art of persuasion, the better we can adequate oratorical motto or text for
expression of our argument. To recap the points expressed here:
1. Know your audience
2. Develop a conducive speech for your audience, using the three canons
of speech and with some kind of structure.
Obviously, situations will arise where you won’t be able to
prepare a formal speech but instead must make an argument about the
place. As long as you are aware of these elements, you will be more
Effective in your speech.
More importantly, stay calm when you make your presentation and stay in
check. The debate must be moderated so that it does not compromise the
the wrath of your audience (unless that is your intention). cruelty must be
left at the door. Organize, prepare and enjoy the trip.
“In a republican nation, whose citizens must be guided by reason and persuasion
and not by force, the art of reasoning becomes of first importance”