ADVERTISING
 
Wednesday, January 22   Sign in or Register
 
Evangelical Focus
 

 
 
 
FOLLOW US ON
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud
 

Newsletter
Newsletter, sign up to receive all our News by email.
 
 

POLL
Society
Should Christians join social protests?



SEE MORE POLLS
 

 
TOP 10 MOST VIEWED



René Breuel
 

What makes a good speaker?

Instead of logos and pathos, Aristotle chose instead ethos: the speaker’s character.

CULTURE MAKING AUTHOR René Breuel 25 FEBRUARY 2017 19:10 h GMT+1
Martin Luther King. / Wikimedia, CC

In his treatise on rhetoric, when Aristotle set out to express the factor that makes a public speaker most persuasive, he elected an element not many of us would choose. To Aristotle, a speaker’s most powerful weapon is not logos: it is not his unanswerable logic, argumentation, insightful content. It was not the eloquence and rhythm of his words. Nor was it pathos: someone’s passion, emotion, intensity of expression, full range of body moves.



Instead of logos and pathos, Aristotle chose instead ethos: the speaker’s character. For him, more important than what was said, or how intensely it was said, was who said it. A speaker’s character is his or her most persuasive trait. His ethos, comprised for Aristotle of wisdom, virtue, and goodness toward the audience, is what speaks loudest to the people who hear his words.[1]



I confess that I felt surprised, even disappointed, when I came upon Aristotle’s choice some years ago. True, if a speaker’s life does not match his words, the most eloquent of speeches won’t get a listening. But provided he is a decent person, I thought, and nothing could be held against him, clearly logos and pathos were much sharper arrows. Aristotle should just listen to Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream, and notice his choice of metaphors, the rhythm of language and repetition, his use of songs and scriptures to ground his argument, and the bursting, passionate delivery of his rising words – until he reaches a stirring climax with “Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, we are free at last” – to realize that ethos is no match for logos and pathos.



 



Aristotle. / Wikimedia, CC

But as Aristotle’s observation remained in the back of my mind, and I came to listen to numerous speakers over the years, I grudgingly and slowly gave in to Aristotle. The master philosopher was right also on this one. And what convinced me of Aristotle’s choice for ethos was this: think of a good speaker you heard a while ago. You may remember a couple good insights; maybe a carefully constructed sentence, if he was really able and repeated the sentence at key points. You may remember a moving story or a passionate delivery.



But what stuck? What addresses you still? It is not words or emotions: it is the speaker’s soul. The questions that remain over time are: how good was that person? Did her humility lower my barriers, and did her benevolence attract my heart, so our personalities could meet? How much did she penetrate into me? Was there a communication of spirit? More than the delivery of a message, was there an encounter? Like Aristotle pointed out, it is the speaker’s spirit that communicates the most. Words may inform our minds, emotions may move our hearts, but we are permanently transformed only if a speaker’s character is compelling, and a piece of his soul penetrates into ours.



I’m an avid speech listener. I will pay almost whatever cost to go hear the best speakers, and to savour that multiplicity of words, emotions and spirit packed beautifully into a few moments. I search across history to find and read the most compelling rhetoric ever articulated, trying to imagine what it was like to be there and listen, feeling the speaker’s soul project forward and move through the audience. I confess I have even prayed a couple times for God to let me experience in a dream what it was like was to sit under George Whitefield, as he swept whole cities and countries with his eloquence in the eighteenth century.



But nothing makes my heart beats faster than to imagine myself among the crowds that once filled the beaches and hills of Galilee, as word got around that a prophet was in town, next to people who walked for weeks to hear him speak, and to relish Jesus’ words, and feel the gravity of his personality, and be infused by his spirit, and press through the crowd, until I could get a glimpse of his eyes, and go home with a piece of that soul in mine.


 

 


0
COMMENTS

    If you want to comment, or

 



 
 
YOUR ARE AT: - - - What makes a good speaker?
 
ADVERTISING
 
 
 
AUDIOS Audios
 
Julia Doxat-Purser: 25 years of EEA office in Brussels Julia Doxat-Purser: 25 years of EEA office in Brussels

An interview with the socio-political representative of the European Evangelical Alliance about how evangelical Christians work at the heart of the European Union.

 
Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation

Are Christians called to make a difference in environmental care? What has creation care to do with "loving our neighbours"? An interview with the Global Advocacy and Influencing Director of Tearfund.

 
Lars Dahle: Nominal Christianity, a mission field for the church Lars Dahle: Nominal Christianity, a mission field for the church

An interview with Lars Dahle, of the Steering Committee of the Lausanne Movement Global Consultation on Nominal Christianity held in Rome.

 
Testimony: Wildfires near Athens Testimony: Wildfires near Athens

Nico Spies, a Christian worker in Athens, gives details about the wildfires in Greece.

 
PICTURES Pictures
 
Photos: Students at ‘Revive Europe’ Photos: Students at ‘Revive Europe’

Photos of the student conference that brought together 3,000 European Christians in Germany. ‘Revive our hearts, revive our universities, revive Europe’.

 
Min19: Childhood, family and the church Min19: Childhood, family and the church

The first evangelical congress on childhood and family was held in Madrid. Pictures of the event, November 1-2.

 
IFES World Assembly: ‘Messengers of Hope’ IFES World Assembly: ‘Messengers of Hope’

Students, graduates and staff of the global evangelical student movement reflected together on how the books of Luke and Acts apply to today's universities.

 
Christians at work - the missing link in fulfilling the Great Commission Christians at work - the missing link in fulfilling the Great Commission

Photos of the Lausanne Movement Global Workplace Forum, celebrated in Manila.

 
VIDEO Video
 
Christian candidacies in Taiwan increased by 40% in 2020 election Christian candidacies in Taiwan increased by 40% in 2020 election

Many hope their effort will inspire a new generation of political representatives with a strong Christian faith. “God has a long-term plan”.

 
Why does the Roman Catholic Church mandate that priests remain celibate? Why does the Roman Catholic Church mandate that priests remain celibate?

“There is no biblical reason for the imposition of celibacy as the status of pastors or priests”, says Vatican expert and evangelical theologian Leonardo De Chirico.

 
Video: Highlights of ‘Revive Europe’ Video: Highlights of ‘Revive Europe’

A video summary of the student conference that gathered 3,000 in Karlsruhe, Germany. 6 days in 6 minutes.

 
Families forced to leave homes in Chiapas Families forced to leave homes in Chiapas

Requests for government intervention were ignored, and nearby churches are providing the displaced believers with emergency supplies and lodging.

 
‘There’s a dragon in my nativity’ ‘There’s a dragon in my nativity’

“At this nativity, arose another player. The baby wrapped in swaddling cloths — He was a dragon slayer”. A Christmas story by Speak Life.

 
World Evangelical Alliance General Assembly highlights World Evangelical Alliance General Assembly highlights

The World Evangelical Alliance's General Assembly 2019 in Jakarta, Indonesia, brought together 800 evangelicals from 92 countries to pray, worship and cast vision for the new decade of holistic discipleship.

 
 
Follow us on Soundcloud
Follow us on YouTube
 
 
WE RECOMMEND
 
PARTNERS
 

 
AEE
EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.
 

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.