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Secret Sauce of Story: Case #25

Centuries Old and Still Holds True

Aristotle's 3 Rhetorical Appeals

More than 2,300 years ago Aristotle recognized that there are 3 elements to the art of persuasion. And so was born, Aristotle's 3 Rhetorical Appeals.

Logos (Logic): An appeal to persuade the audience by use of arguments that they will perceive as logical. I think of this as the facts. Pathos (Emotion): An appeal to persuade the audience by making them feel a certain emotion. Ethos (Credibility): The person delivering the information is perceived by the audience as credible.

Story, just like Aristotle’s Appeals, has existed since before biblical times and yet both have remained unchanged throughout the centuries. Why?

When working with clients, I often refer to this quote by Peter Guber that succinctly incapsulates story:

“A story is a vehicle that allows you to put the facts in an emotional context.”

I’m drawn to it for several reasons. First, it says “facts”. I’m interested in purposeful stories that move people to action, and the facts are critical. Second, once we have identified the most important facts our audience must understand and remember, it tells us what to do. Place them in an emotional context. Third, it makes me think of stories as small chunks of information that can easily be shared orally or written.

But most of all I love this definition when it’s combined with Aristotle’s 3 Rhetorical Appeals.

A story is a vehicle that allows you to place the facts (The Logos) in an emotional (The pathos) context. Then you deliver it to the audience in a credible manner. (The Ethos)

A simple, well-crafted story confidently delivered has all 3 of Aristotle’s Appeals running simultaneously. No wonder stories have lasted the test of time. If you want to improve your results, improve your storytelling.

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