Conor Neill’s TED-Ed Lesson on Persuasion


Last week, superteacher Conor Neill emailed me to share the TED-Ed lesson he created.  On Monday, the lesson on persuasion finally debuted on the TED-Ed website:


Conor’s email was as follows:

“I wrote ‘Give a TED Talk’ on my bucket list 4 years ago.  Today, I feel happy to see the idea come to fruition.  It is not a TED Talk per-se… but in my mind, it is almost better because it is a lesson from my class on a concept that is very important today.  We are increasingly overloaded with information, but we need to be more and more careful about how we trust this information.  We want to connect to the meaning BEHIND the information.  As the lesson says, ‘ethos and pathos are missing.’

Check out the video and help me share the message!  Leadership today takes much more than finding the idea.  Thank you, Conor.”

The entire TED-Ed lesson, including the video, further resources, and a quiz, can be found on the TED-Ed website here.

And if you enjoyed Conor’s lesson, you’ll also love the video Steve Cherches shared with me over the weekend.  Watch “The Science of Persuasion” here.

Please help me share superteacher Conor Neill’s amazing lesson on persuasion!


Modes of Persuasion: Introduction to Ethos


Aristotle defined the three modes of persuasion: ethos, pathos, and logos.  In order for your message or your content to persuade others, your idea must appeal to the emotions and logic of your audience, and you must express your character and credibility to that audience.  From Ancient Greece to Orlando, Florida in 2012, these three modes of persuasion ring true for any and every presentation.

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Ethos is a Greek word meaning “character.”  In public speaking and presentation, ethos is the character and credibility of the presenter.  In his influential text, On Rhetoric, Aristotle defines ethos and explains the importance of this appeal.  Aristotle says ethos is comprised of three categories: 1) phronesis – skills and practical wisdom; 2) arete – virtue; and 3) eunoia – kindness and goodwill toward the audience (Source).  Nancy Duarte explains ethos in her book resonate.  Duarte says the point of ethos, the ethical appeal, is to “garner respect through credibility and character” (Source).  This means that ethos lies in the minds of the audience, so the presenter must remember to analyze what the audience needs in order for that presenter’s ethos to be successful.

Andrew Dlugan of Six Minutes considers ethos, pathos, and logos “the three pillars of public speaking.” He explains ethos perfectly in “What is Ethos? Why is it Critical for Speakers?”  Dlugan says an audience will measure ethos in four categories: trustworthiness, similarity (to the audience), authority, and reputation/expertise (Source).

We can also think of ethos as proof of your ability to lead your audience.  Leadership is best defined in John C. Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You.  Maxwell’s book includes laws such as the Law of Influence; the Law of Navigation; the Law of Respect; and the Law of Magnetism among 17 others.  Pick up your copy of Maxwell’s amazing leadership text here to develop your ethos.

Now that you know what ethos is, prepare yourself for an in-depth analysis of the first mode of persuasion.  This week, we will examine ethos in many mediums: pop culture, television advertising, print advertising, and, most importantly, public speaking.  We will dissect ethos in all three legs of the presentation stool: speech content, delivery, and visual presentation.

What do you most hope to learn about ethos this week?  What questions do you have so far about the first mode of persuasion?

Communication: Influence and Social Media


Neil Patel is the author of “6 Ways to Be More Persuasive With Social Media,” an article combining communication via social media and tips from the book Influence by Robert Cialdini.  Patel discusses reciprocation, social proof, liking, authority, scarcity, and commitment/consistency and how those concepts relate to Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets.

Aristotle’s three modes of persuasion definitely apply to how influential you are on social media.  Many of Patel’s examples pull from ethos, the character or credibility of the user.  Patel explains that great ways to influence with social media include developing a polite, warm, and funny online persona; sharing with others by creating give-and-take relationships; displaying authority by highlighting achievements; and honoring commitments.  A great example of ethos over social media is Guy Kawasaki.  He takes the time respond to Tweets in a kind, warm way, so he creates relationships with people.  On his website, Kawasaki displays his most recent book, Enchantment, as a New York Times best-seller.  This shows his authority and credibility when speaking on certain subjects.  We can all learn from Kawasaki’s approach to social media.

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Patel also gives tips that I would categorize as logos: Aristotle’s logical orientation.  When giving a speech or presentation, your logos is the support for your cause/brand/argument.  It includes the organization of your material and the proof to support your cause.  Patel explains that with social media, proof comes in the form of numbers: a large group of people “liking,” supporting, commenting, and sharing your ideas and your brand.  Other ideas for garnering logos include great data (charts, diagrams), a clear process, facts and statistics, and source material including current and relevant articles, case studies, and stories.

Lastly, Patel advises you to persuade with social media in an area that Aristotle would define as pathos.  Pathos is the emotional appeal, and Patel emphasizes connecting with people in order to make them feel positively.  Make people feel happy and good about themselves by treating them respectfully.  Be kind!  Instead of hiding behind your Internet persona and being cruel to others, treat people online just as you would in real life.  This will allow those connected to you to associate your brand with feelings of happiness and positivity.

With the help of Aristotle’s three modes of persuasion and Neil Patel’s tips on influencing with social media, your brand, your cause, and your message can be stronger and more effective.  Good luck!