The Rhetoric of Presentation Design: Pathos


Aristotle said that “[There is persuasion] through the hearers when they are led to feel emotion [pathos] by the speech.” Pathos is the art of isolating relevant emotions, determining what causes those emotions, and eliminating competing or detrimental emotions. The human spectrum of emotion is complex, and one’s emotional timbre regarding a topic can be difficult to convey to others.

Interesting design take on Plutchnik's wheel. The different colored lights and their placement indicates a particular relationship and as such a particular emotion. This is an awesome example of proximity and its role in the conveyance of emotion and relationships.

So, while speakers respond to credible, knowledgeable speakers, it is inspiration and heart that motivates one to act. It is effective emotion that helps cross the divide between agreement and action. So, how can you utilize your slides to help you establish, develop, and maintain your pathos?

1. Use the picture superiority effect to maximize an image’s impact.

Contextualize this statistic from the U.S. Energy Information Administration by pairing it with a visual that speaks for itself.

Image: Locace

2. Use visuals to surprise your audience.

This is one of my favorite visualizations by David McCandless. Break down your audience's expectations and use simple visuals to reveal hidden truths and patterns.

Image: Information is Beautiful

3. Use familiar images to appeal to a shared value.

Image: ~MVI~ (acquainting with durban)

4. Use video to bring emotion to life.

I positively love sharing this video with my class when we discuss the impact a short story can have on our perceptions of an idea. Embedding creative commons videos into your slides is easy. Try downloading a video, then drag it into your slides as you would an image.

5. Use moving images to increase interest.

Image: Restless mind

Statistic: Children’s Defense Fund

This is a technique I learned from one of my on campus students last month. I can’t wait to try it in my own presentations! It’s not quite the Ken Burns effect, but it’s a nice way to do something different with a bit of ingenuity and the push transition.

Image: misswired

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2 thoughts on “The Rhetoric of Presentation Design: Pathos

  1. […] of Presentation Design.  Click here for the Introduction and Ethos of Presentation Design; the Pathos of Presentation Design; and the Logos of Presentation […]

  2. […] metaphor that helped me understand how rhetoric and the means of persuasion (ethos or credibility, pathos or emotion, and logos or logic) work. An argument is like the Starship Enterprise, flagship of the United […]

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