Ethos, Pathos and Logos – The Power of Persuasion

Ethos, Pathos and Logos

Ethos, Pathos and Logos

This morning, I woke up and went for a run. When I came back, I picked up a book that I bought a while ago. I’ve always wanted to read it but have never had a chance: “Talk like TED” by Carmine Gallo. It was great. After reading about Bryan Stevenson’s TED talk, “we need to talk about injustice,” my eyes opened wide. I realized the most important power of persuasion, that I almost forgot.

Ethos, Pathos and Logos, are modes of persuasion by Aristotle. You may have heard about it before. Or you may have heard many sale gurus say “people buy on emotion, not logic.” Still, sometimes we forget about the importance of emotional appeal in our speeches and articles. It’s especially essential when we’re selling or recommending products/services to our audiences.

Admittedly, I’ve never been a good speaker or presenter. I have had so many embarrassing moments standing on stage alone. However, I learn that every time I decide to just tell an honest story about myself, people start listening for some reason.

What is Ethos, Pathos, and Logos?

Ethos: is your credibility. It’s who you are and why people should listen to you.

Pathos: emotional appeal. It’s the deep connection between you and the audience.

Logos: logic, data and statistics.

ethos, pathos and logos

According to “Talk like Ted,” Bryan Stevenson earned the longest standing ovation in TED history. His audience was so inspired by his presentation that they donated a combined $1 million to his nonprofit. His talk has been voted one of the most “persuasive” talk on

The interesting thing is, he spent 65 percent of his presentation JUST telling stories. When he told his own stories, his audiences connected to his words emotionally.

Let’s break it down. Bryan’s presentation has a total of 4,057 words. Carmine (“Talk like TED” author) divided them into 3 categories: Pathos, Ethos and Logos. When Bryan talked about his work, Carmine placed his sentences into the category Ethos. If Bryan explained statistics, the author placed the content into the category Logos. If Bryan told stories, the sentences/paragraphs were placed into the category Pathos. And the result was 65% Pathos, 10% Ethos and 25% Logos.

Instead of spending time explaining the statistics or his credibility, he focused the majority of his speech on Pathos (emotional appeal). Without this, his talk probably wouldn’t have been so “persuasive.”

Croc brain vs. Neocortex

Ethos, Pathos and Logos - Croc Brain vs. Neocortex

Story telling could also be an important point when we discuss the Croc brain and Neocortex.

Have you ever gone to a classroom without paying attention to your teacher? Sadly, I think we all have.

It is because we tend to approach things with our Crocodile brain, not our Neocortex.

Crocodile brain: the lowest level of the brain; the oldest part of the brain in our evolution. Usually dealing with simple thinking, emotions and survivor instincts.

Neocortex: The top layer of the brain, dealing with complex responsibility like decision making, logic, conscious thought and language. It’s the most evolved part of the brain.

Sometimes we believe that pitching or writing is about delivering information. So we just provide our audiences with lots of data and information. We’re hoping that we can reach our audience’s neocortex.

The problem is, in reality, we need to pass their crocodile brain first. Croc brain is only concerned about 2 things: Is it dangerous? and Is it novel? If the croc brain decides that your topic is boring or too complicated, your audience won’t pay attention to you. And there’s no way your information will reach their neocortex.

Telling an emotional story is a great way to break that bridge. A compelling story will grab the attention of a simple croc brain.

What is the lesson in all of this?

As we learn and grow our business, it is important to have Pathos (emotional appeal). That’s why figuring your “why” for your business is important. We want to be able to connect with our audience deeply and emotionally.

Most people will buy your products and services based on their emotions.

Nevertheless, some may say that they will only buy things based on their research and logic.

Sure. But even then… You, as a presenter, still have to pass their croc brain before delivering them statistics. Otherwise, their brain will mark your presentation as boring and won’t listen to you any further.

Personally, I’ve bought many things emotionally. I love Apple products because their core belief resonates with me. Even though there’re lots of computers out there with great prices, I still want to go for an Apple because I love the idea of challenging the status quo, doing things better and differently.

How about you? Have you ever purchased anything based on your emotion? Share your thought bellow.


Ethos, Pathos and Logos – The Power of Persuasion was last modified: June 29th, 2017 by Kienblogger

8 Comments on “Ethos, Pathos and Logos – The Power of Persuasion”

  1. I love watching TED talks, thank you for sharing this amazing article!

    I do have bought things emotionally. Buying clothes or shoes because of how it makes me feel. Ads that got my attention also made me want to buy them. Even though I don’t really need those things.

    The croc brain & neocortex really interesting for me, I never heard of this before. Now I know that emotion is an important part of persuasion. This can really help me, I used to use a lot of facts when I persuade people with just a little emotion.

    1. Hi Diana, 

      Thanks for sharing. I think we’re all guilty of doing that sometimes. We try to give people too many facts and information but not enough emotional appeal.

  2. Hi Kien!

    I’m always looking for new and creative ways to connect wih my audience. And according to your article, I guess I’m doing it right.

    I think the best thing you can do is connect with them emotionally. The facts and the speech matter as well, but we’re emotional creatures, and if we do not empathize with people, they can easily lose interest.

    Very interesting insight, thanks!

  3. hi there!

    solid post! one of the best i’ve read in a while actually. i like your simple writing style and your break down of the the ethos, pathos & logos trio!

    definitely going to check out this ted talk now as it seems like it’s a must see. i think most of my purchases these days are based on the emotion of feeling at ease which comes about by saving time in simplifying things.

    thanks again for the post & keep ’em coming.


  4. I’m a huge fan of philosophy and have loved the philosophy of Aristotle since he came from Plato who was a student of Socrates, the father of philosophy whom I really loved.

    I have heard of ethos and pathos before but didn’t take it seriously. But now you put into a great perspective that makes me want to go look for the book I was reading about it.

    This is something I really need for my online ventures since I want to become an affiliate marketer starting next month. Thank you very much for the idea well expressed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *