23June 2024

Public Speaking Tips for Ethos

Can I trust you?
Aristotle recognises three ‘artistic’ means of appeal or persuasion.
‘Artistic’ in as far they require a degree of skill or creativity on the part of the speaker:
(i)            Ethos (credibility of the speaker)
(ii)           Logos (credibility of the argument)
(iii)          Pathos (the ability of the speaker to arouse an emotional response in their audience)
A law is an example of a ‘non-artistic’ appeal: it is the law – you have to obey.
However, if I am trying to persuade you based on my experience, credibility, and character, the apparent logic of my argument, or by appealing to your sense of personal benefit or moral code, then I need to be a bit more thoughtful and creative in how I present to you.

If a policeman stops you for driving at 50 miles per hour in a 30-mile-an-hour zone, he or she will require none of the above to make their point.
They need to establish no personal credibility – the uniform does that for them.
They do not need to put together a persuasive, logical argument – they point to the sign saying 30 and ask you in a slightly condescending way, ‘How fast do you think you were driving?
And in case you think that was a genuine question to open up a discussion, you are, of course, wrong.
It is merely said to establish his authority to tell you that you were speeding.
(Check out a previous blog on the use of Rhetorical Questions
https://www.ataps.co.uk/about/blog/training-tips-for-asking-questions.html )
The only emotions excited in this encounter are anger at being pulled over, resentment of his or her attitude, and a humiliating sense of impotence of having to listen silently.

No ‘artistic’ proof is needed – because they are enforcing the law.

However, imagine you live in some utopian (dystopian) world where there are no police officers and no speed restrictions and where you are still inclined to drive very fast through urban built-up neighbourhoods.
Now, if a responsible citizen (our police officer) wants to discourage you from driving too fast, he no longer has a uniform or an external rule to rely on; if he wants to persuade you to drive more slowly, he is going to need one or all of the above means of appeal to win you over to his point of view.

He may choose to build his argument around ‘logic’ and use the logos appeal, in which case he might give you some statistics relating to how, through cause and effect, the speed of the car relates directly to the number and severity of accidents; he might also explain reaction times and stopping distances, to help you see that you are not as in control as you think you are.
If he wanted to rely on pathos in his appeal, he might start by asking you whether you have any children. 
If the answer is 'Yes', he might ask you to imagine how you would feel if your child was hit by a speeding car.
And if he wanted to build on the ethos appeal – and since he has no badge to point to and no paragraph in the highway code to refer to, -he is going to have to appeal to you through the strength of his own character and integrity: he will tell you about his own experiences, of what he has seen and now based on this acquired knowledge, he will advise you to take his word for it that driving at that speed will be dangerous not just for the other users of the road, but for you, the driver too!
In essence, he will be saying: ‘Trust me.  I know.’
If you do not think he is worth listening to, you will not be persuaded by him.

Therefore Ethos is an essential quality for any successful speaker.
So, how do I establish that Ethos

The first area to consider is your speaking delivery.
Do you look like /do you sound like someone worth listening to?
Some people seem to be able to say:
‘Come on!’
and everybody comes
while others say the same thing and no one seems to hear them.
How do you become that person that people are willing to listen to?

10 tips for establishing Ethos

  1. Tone of Voice

Specific tips for developing a good speaking voice have been covered in previous blogs
The point here is that vocal variety and voice projection are not just essential for keeping the audience engaged, they assert that you are worth listening to and therefore, by implication, so is what you are about to say.
I regularly assert that it is important to start well.
A strong opening line delivered with conviction will do wonders for establishing your credibility as a speaker,
whereas an apologetic ‘Er..so..um..hi..yeah….’  will not.

  1. Projection

A school teaching friend recently told me how the school was trying out a new teacher.
What she said was good, she knew the curriculum well, but her voice was so quiet and lacking in authority that the children would not engage.
Does that mean you should not speak gently in public speaking?
Not at all!  But we need to be sure that our voice is projecting and easy to hear.
Once you have established your authority, speaking quietly can draw the audience forward to you.
But if you have not yet established that Ethos, they won’t lean forward, they will lean back and sigh, because it is too hard to hear you.

  1. Slow down

This was always my biggest challenge – so much to say and I wanted to say it all at once!
If you tell your audience that you intend to appeal to their sense of logic and fairness, they will sense the justice and balance in that approach.  If you tell your audience that you intend to play on their emotions, they might feel that they are being manipulated or ‘played’.  Speaking fast is great for emotion and passion, but it can feel out of control and therefore out of balance.  If you want to persuade your audience that you have just had the best day of your life, then pace and passion will add to that message.  However, if your intention is to come across as thoughtful and rational, it is important to slow down the delivery.  Part of the authority of a news reporter comes from the measured pace of their delivery.

  1. Stance

This is not the time to analyse the benefits of standing still versus moving around the stage, but a solid stance will broadly send a message of ‘knowing where you stand’ and of sharing, while moving about the stage will send a message of power and lecturing.  It is up to you to decide what best suits your message.
However, under no circumstances will you enhance your credibility by rocking, shuffling, or swaying, so whether moving or standing, make sure you send a message of solidity.

  1. Eye contact

Good eye contact is associated with confidence and possibly even more associated with honesty.
A liar is often characterised as someone who cannot look you in the eyes.  Therefore if you wish to persuade your audience, make sure you are looking at them – particularly at key moments in the presentation.
I am unlikely to believe in you unless you believe in yourself and much of that comes from good strong eye contact.

  1. Open gestures

The frequent open-armed appeal of Arsene Wenger (the former manager of Arsenal Football Club) said:
‘Trust me, I have nothing to hide. Would I lie to you? Let’s be fair.’
So try to avoid crossed arms or possibly even worse – hands behind the back or in your pockets.
The tip is: wrists and palms for open gestures.
Pointing is definitely a ‘No –no’.
The famous First World War poster of Kitchener pointing with the caption:
‘Your country needs you.’
is supposed to make you feel uncomfortable!

  1. Who are you?

If you intend to lean on your credibility, where does it come from?
The British tend to hide themselves behind a shield of humility.
No one needs to be boastful, but your audience needs to appreciate why you should be listened to.
We may need to promote ourselves so that the audience can trust what we are saying.
That can come from two areas.
Either we have experience and qualifications that indicate that we know what we are talking about or else on some occasions our credibility may stem from direct experience as an individual or a customer:
’Don’t do what I did.’ or ‘Don’t accept what I accepted.’
If you are an expert in a field that is not associated with the need for excellent Public Speaking skills, then stressing your credentials can act as a mitigation for not being the most assured speaker.

  1. Check your facts

If you are even partially relying on your ‘ethos’ to influence your audience, you cannot afford to slip up on any details. Part of the Socratic method of examination was to ask two questions to which the answers would be an uncontroversial ‘Yes’ and then to follow that up with a third question whose answer might not be so clear cut, but relying on the momentum of having said ‘Yes’ twice makes it easier to say ‘Yes’ for a third time.
The plot of many spy movies relies on telling the opposition two facts that they can verify as true, and then using that established confidence to tell a third fact that is not!
So make sure that what can be proven is correct.

  1. Counter arguments

If the counter-argument is too good, you may not want to introduce it, but if you can address it and counter it, you will be perceived as open and balanced with nothing to hide.  Part of Cicero’s presentation structure identifies
‘Proof’ – i.e. asserting your evidence – and
‘Refutation’ – rejecting or dismissing the counter-argument.

  1. Pleasing Personality

Your audience does not need to like you, but it certainly helps if they do.
So avoid ‘crushing’ an audience member who disagrees with you.
Avoid coming across as patronising or overly aggressive.
Show humility and a sense of humour.
Sales professionals often claim:
‘People buy people.’
And it is the same with speaking

When building on your ‘ethos’ as a speaker, make sure:
- you look and sound like you know what you are saying
- you are confident of your facts
- you speak with authority and humility.

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Michael's superb training style is underpinned by an incredible depth of knowledge and experience. Like all true experts, he delivers what he knows with ease and simplicity, exampling the skills he is teaching as he does so.

Very informative and great anecdotes which illustrated points and provided visual markers.

The most interesting training that I have ever taken part in! Experience + Wisdom + Perfect teaching approach.

The training was spot on. He really listened to us and customised his responses throughout.

Loved the creation of visual examples through the use of body and how relating the experience really helps demonstrate the message.

Very approachable and motivational. So much information, brilliantly delivered.

Loads of great analogies and stories - very friendly and helpful.

Very approachable and knowledgeable and good use of examples to simplify the material.

In just one day Michael was able to teach a class of children how to craft their own personal stories and experiences into powerful and engaging speeches that resonate with an adult audience as well as with a younger audience. It is a marvellous way to help them increase self-confidence and in the process - almost without them even realising it - become natural speakers and excellent communicators.

Michael has a style of speaking which draws the audience into his world, captivates them and leaves them with lasting memories of some of the descriptive phrases he has used and the information he has included. He also has the ability to pass the skills he uses in his own speaking on to those he trains.

Very good rapport, attention to detail, individual support, positive atmosphere and encouragement - a great place for learning.

• Very great example; how to express yourself, how to be engaging and how to match body language with what is said.