Tag Archives: rhetoric

Are your communication habits killing your credibility?

In studying the three modes of persuasion, ethos or credibility, pathos or emotion, and logos or logic and evidence, we learn that strong persuasion is about creating a balance between these three essentials to effective rhetoric, the art of persuading others.

Rhetoric is a balance of three modes. Think of it as an equilateral triangle.

Rhetoric is a balance of three modes. Think of it as an equilateral triangle.

While the dominant mode may change depending on the speaking context, and while many disagree on which mode of persuasion is truly the most important, it cannot be denied that an imbalance between these three can negatively affect your audience’s reception of your message. Too much pathos and the audience may feel manipulated, too much logos and the audience is disconnected from the humanity of the topic. What happens when we don’t tend to ethos or credibility though?

According to the article “8 Conversational Habits that Kill Credibility” by Geoffrey James, credibility often comes down not to dress or decorum but language (also definitely the realm of logos and pathos). What we say can either show we are credible, trustworthy, and have the audience’s best interest in mind, or leave our audience feeling we are biased, pompous, or untrustworthy. So, what are the 8 habits you need to avoid to build strong credibility?

1. Avoid Shop Talk

Jargon may make you feel better and you’ll assume your audience sees you as a knowledgable fount of information and wisdom, your audience is over business speak. A colleague recently expressed his disgust at the word “followship” used as a replacement for “leadership”. Why do we need to redefine leadership as anything but what it is?

2. Avoid Overused “Truisms”

The cliche “don’t count your chickens before they hatch” was awesome…100 years ago. Now, it’s an instant sign to your audience that they should stop listening to you because you are out of touch at best or lazy at worst.

3. Avoid Fancy Language

Verbose diatribes infrequently engage participatory assemblages… in other words, the bigger the words you use, the less likely that your audience will listen to or retain your message. Keep it simple!

4. Avoid Verbal Fillers

Non-fluencies like “um” or “uh” can be difficult to filter out, particularly because they are part of our conversational structure, so from my perspective a random uh or um won’t necessarily kill your credibility. However, when they become so frequent that they are noticeable or when those fillers include words such as “like” or “basically”, they communicate to your audience that you are not confident in your message or ideas.

5. Avoid Statements as Questions

James calls these “upticks”. When one raises the pitch at the end of what should be a statement and phrases it instead as a question. This one is a subtle credibility killer. The raising of your voice can communicate a lack of confidence in your ideas and message. Much of our credibility comes from an ability to phrase ideas assertively and with confidence.

6. Avoid Doublespeak

The term doublespeak was first introduced in George Orwell’s 1984. Doublespeak is language that deliberately seeks to distort and confuse meaning. The purpose is to often make difficult truths more palatable (aka, lying by omission). James refers to these as weasel words–no one trusts a weasel. One of the biggest challenges of strong persuasion is presenting ideas as they are, no matter how ugly or difficult.

7. Avoid Blaming your Audience

Placing blame on the audience by way of a “fake apology” (I’m sorry you didn’t get the point) is disingenuous . It also shows a lack of empathy for your audience, a definite necessity of a credible speaker.

8. Avoid Useless Information

Often times, when we don’t know what we are talking about, we rely on information overload–a barrage of mostly useless (to the audience) information that works to actually increase anxiety in most speakers. Focus on audience relevance and audience centeredness to ensure your information is useful.

What is your biggest credibility pet peeve? Take the poll and compare your results to other readers. 

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Chiara Lives! And she’s been watching TED

The past few months between some big transitions in the Professional Communication and Presentation team and two moves across Orlando, September and October have been a blur! I am taking a deep breath, returning to the gym, and sharing this amazing TED talk with you tonight on Tweak Your Slides; Ash Beckham nails a particularly impacting rhetorical strategy in her TEDxBoulder talk, “Coming out of your closet.”

An impacting metaphor/comparison can take an un-relatable, complex, subjective, or polarizing idea and create a bridge of commonality that can break down barriers. In this talk, Beckham talks about coming out of the closet–but not in the way you think. Yes, Beckham shares her experience coming out to friends and family, but she says, that’s just one type of closet. We all have a closet–whether it is infidelity, bankruptcy, cancer…our closet is whatever is hard for us to be open about, what is hard for us to share with others. She introduces the closet metaphor and carries it through to her call to action, “a closet is not a place for a person to truly live.” She encourages her audience to find their closet and come out. In addition to harnessing the power of metaphor, she shares three lessons we can apply to public speaking:

Be yourself. Don’t wear armor.

Garr Reynolds says that we have to get naked to truly connect with audiences. We put on the armor of bullet-riddled slides, robotic delivery, and haphazard preparation to protect us from the judgment we feel from others in a speaking situation. That armor though, benefits neither speaker nor audience. To connect with others, you have to take off that armor!

Be direct. Just say it.

Directness and simplicity are the keys to a strong message. Filler words, fluff, irrelevant information, and decorated slides move us away from the core of our message, the idea that we want others to take on in the first place.

Be unapologetic. Speak your truth.

Like authenticity, being open as a speaker and sharing failure as well as success requires confidence in oneself. This goes for content in the form of storytelling and delivery in the form of those apologies for normal human behavior that we pepper our speech with.

Consider not only her message–what’s that difficult message you have to share with others–but also those wonderful rhetorical lessons: use relatable metaphors and be real.

 

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Tweak Your Speech: Rhetoric and Star Trek

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This week in Professional Communication and Presentation, we discussed the basics of rhetoric and persuasion. I don’t really fall too far from the rhetorical tree Aristotle and Cicero developed hundreds of years ago (with the exception of including Kenneth Burke’s concept of identification), partly because my class is only a month long and the three part structure of Aristotle’s appeals works well in this time frame, and partly because I want to impart on my students a very important truth: For the ancients, oration was a skill and art form that surpassed others–communication had immediate impact on the lives of Greek and Roman citizens, they tended to a presentation ecosystem before we’d heard of such a thing.

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This cultivation of strong speech continued through much of human history–imagine Martin Luther King writing up his “I Have a Dream” speech and sending it by mail (much less impacting that way, no?). In recent times though, the study of oration has been diluted, to the point that we devote little time to considering how we structure our messages or how our audience will process and carry on our message. We devote even less time to studying the mechanism of persuasion and analysis of how others structure a successful message. However, in order to really practice and engage in persuasion, we must first understand how it works.

I will share with you a 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 Federation of Planets. The Enterprise is THE ship on which to serve. Its reputation is stellar, its technology state of the art, and its crew stalwart and brave.  Your persuasive message is the Enterprise–it is a well-oiled machine, ready to take on any adversary, set to explore the dimensions of the human universe.

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But, the Enterprise would be nothing without three figures (the original series would not be what it is without the interplay between these three)– Leonard “Bones” McCoy, chief medical officer; Spock of Vulcan, first officer, and James T. Kirk, captain. It is the dynamic between these three individuals that drives the show, provides the excitement, drama, and relevance. Without Bones, Kirk, and Spock, the Enterprise would be a wasteland of red-shirted crewment, doomed to die during the next away mission. In the same way, your presentation cannot function without the seamless interplay between ethos, pathos, and logos.

Bones: Ethos or the credibility appeal

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Bones is the moral and ethical compass of this trio. He often protests Spock’s logic-driven decisions and tempers Kirk’s instinct-driven responses. Like Bones, ethos is all about authority. It is how your audience judges you. An audience should be able to determine if a speaker is trustworthy and reputable, knowledgeable, authoritative, and empathetic. A strong presenter develops ethos both through internal sources and external sources. Your external credibility illustrates knowledge and trustworthiness; internal credibility helps illustrate authority, reputation, and common ground or empathy.

External sources of credibility include experts, case studies, information from media sources, and data.

External sources of credibility include experts, case studies, information from media sources, and data.

 

Internal credibility includes personal experience (want to know about skydiving? ask a skydiver.), shared values with your audience, reputation, and demeanor or behavior during a presentation.

Internal credibility includes personal experience (want to know about skydiving? ask a skydiver.), shared values with your audience, reputation, and demeanor or behavior during a presentation.

 

Spock: Logos or the logical appeal

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Spock, half Vulcan, half human, made the decision as a child to embrace logic and repress emotion. His decisions are based on precise calculations, the data available, and analysis of a situation. Like Spock, logos is all about logic and evidence. It is your way of fulfilling your audience’s need for factual evidence that is presented in a way that makes sense. Logos is “the proof in the pudding”. It stimulates your audience’s need to see in order to believe. Logos is about a clear and understandable message, and a specific evidence that your audience can connect to and understand.

Kirk: Pathos or the emotional appeal

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Captain James T. Kirk, the leader of the Enterprise is a cunning, assertive, and passionate man, who often throws caution to the wind and does what seems irrational and rash. In the end though, Kirk’s actions, which turn out to be a blend of instinct, experience, and duty save the Enterprise (whether it is from a fierce Romulan commander or a super-computer bent on world domination). Like Kirk, pathos or emotion must be balanced by ethics and logic. Pathos is potentially the most ethically dangerous of the three appeals–humans are emotional creatures whose emotions can be manipulated and toyed with. However, pathos is also necessary. Your audience may see the logic of your message and may also see you as an authority in your field, but without that emotional core, they’ll ignore your message like they ignore most messages telling them to do this or not do that.

So, tend to each one of these appeals, devote time to developing the logic of your message, use emotion to humanize your logic, and show your audience you are worth listening to. You will surely go where no one has gone before!

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The Rhetoric of Presentation Design, Revisited

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Monday marks the first on campus class of the year for me. As it’s been two months since I taught in a classroom (aside from faculty development workshops), I have been devoting the past week to preparing my class by revising assignments, creating a new 2-page max layout for all instruction sheets, and revamping my 15 decks for the month. In preparing for the rhetoric and persuasion portion of the class, I have begun revisiting my writing/research on persuasion. In 2011, I wrote a series of articles discussing how we as presenters can use our visual aids to develop the three rhetorical appeals necessary to persuading an audience–ethos, pathos, and logos. I have been working to integrate this aspect of rhetoric a bit more explicitly since then, primarily because we devote so much time to slide design in class and because as presenters, we must continue to work to ensure slides are accompaniment, enhancement, proof of concept, and motivators towards action–not crutches or teleprompters.  Several months ago, super student Travis Ockerman created the video below as an extra credit activity in the online iteration of Professional Communication and Presentation.

Rhetoric & Persuasion Summary from Travis Ockerman on Vimeo.

In the video, Travis summarizes not only the course’s basic lessons on persuasion, in particular ethos, pathos, and logos, but he also beautifully integrates what he’s learned about visual design by creating a well-designed presentation and discussing how presenters can use visuals to help strengthen the three appeals. I added this video as a required viewing in my online classes, and now that my on campus course is web enhanced, I’ll be adding this to the list of assets available to students beyond their require text, Resonate. It’s back to grading and preparing for next month. Happy Friday!

 

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Rhetoric Lessons from TED

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The three cornerstones of public speaking, credibility, emotion, and logic, have been drilled into countless students of both written and oratory rhetoric. This is done with good reason. Aristotle, a man whose insights permeate philosophy, literature, and the arts, knew his stuff. He codified the very science and art of persuasion, while also engaging in one of the first forms of psychological analysis of the human mind’s response to the rhetorical appeals. Aristotle brings light to three important aspects of the human psyche; these directly relate to a speaker’s ability to most effectively persuade a given audience in a specific situation:

We trust speakers who we judge as credible, and trust is a relative term based on a series of variables. This is ethos.

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We demand sound, unbiased, and clear evidence placed into a logical organization and pattern. This is logos.

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We are only persuaded when we are led to feel something, to perceive the problem emotionally. This is pathos.

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Earlier this week, Alex Rister of Creating Communication shared this excellent video with her readers that helps further explain just how important each of these are in our age of information overload.  Conor Neill, the creator of this excellent new TED-ED resource, asserts that it’s the balance and interplay between all three of these areas that leads to true persuasion.

Rhetoric in Action

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Susan Cain Photo Credit: jurvetson via Compfight cc; Jill Bolte Taylor Photo Credit: cr8it via Compfight cc; Amy Cuddy Photo Credit: poptech via Compfight cc

One way to tap into the power of rhetoric is to study how great speakers apply the three appeals, ethos, pathos, and logos. Let’s take a look at how three TED presenters put rhetorical theory into practice in their presentations.

Susan Cain’s “The Power of Introverts”: Improve ethos through shared experience

Cain does a masterful job of developing her ethos, which is a blend of trustworthiness, similarity, reputation, and authority (Dlugan 2010), by drawing on personal stories–her experience being an introvert at “ROWDIE” camp, her choice to write a book and her determination to share her suitcase of ideas with the world. These personal stories build her reputation and authority. But, what really lends her complete credibility is her use of similarity. Cain connects her stories to our shared experiences, our culture of character, our culture of personality, our workplaces, our schools. She draws from the world’s most respected introverts, Abraham Lincoln, Ghandi, in describing the power of introverts. Cain places all of her audience in the problem her big idea helps to solve–we have big problems in the world; we need to value the power of introspection, solitude, and self-reflection on the human experience.

Jill Bolte Taylor’s “A Stroke of Insight”: Improve pathos by showing you care

Bolte Taylor’s talk was one of the first I watched and one of the first I shared with my students. Reception to this talk is always mixed–some students completely dig Taylor’s big idea–that we can choose to step into a right-hemisphere state of mind where we view ourselves as part of a collective universal being. Other students find Taylor’s message to be too “touchy-feely.” Regardless of reception, one cannot help but be impacted by Taylor’s delivery. As a neuroanatomist, we expect Taylor to be cold, detached, scientific. This perception is reinforced by her matter of fact explanation of the human brain while holding an actual human brain. But, Bolte Taylor jarrs the audience’s perceptions by channeling the power of pathos. The experience of having a stroke is conveyed through emotive and physical storytelling. Taylor weaves in beautiful metaphors and invites her audience to experience the stroke that led her to her shareable idea. It’s her willingness to let the audience see her vulnerability, her acceptance of death, her realization that life is not really about me but about we that leads to true persuasion.

Amy Cuddy, “Body language”: Improve logos by visualizing evidence

The content of Cuddy’s TED talk on body language is useful in considering the impact what we do not say when we present can have on an audience’s perceptions and their willingness to accept a message. But, when we move beyond content to analyze the structure and delivery of this message, an important lesson about how to integrate examples and evidence emerges. Cuddy sets the tone for the presentation by calling attention to the body, by asking her audience to become aware of their bodies. Immediately, the audience is put into the mindframe of the presentation’s big idea–that body language does more than just reflect mood; body language can change and shape our minds and in turn our behavior. She then tells the story that led to this big idea, interweaving testimony, examples, and case studies paired with video, images, and simple data display. As a viewer, I found myself hypersensitive to my posture and body language for the duration of the speech: I mimicked the power poses; I recalled the many times I’d noticed myself and others displaying the non-verbal behavior Cuddy describes and displays. Cuddy’s rich examples bring her logic to life and help her achieve her goal–to persuade her audience to “fake it til you become it”, to use body language as a means for personal growth and change.

Note that these speakers all used the three appeals together. Rhetorical appeals do not exist in a vacuum; they work with each other. I like to think of a strong argument as the Starship Enterprise–Star Trek the series and the Enterprise as a ship work because of the interplay between Spock (logos), McCoy (ethos), and Kirk (pathos). Without these three, the Enterprise crew cannot function; without these three, there would be no Trek. Tap into the three rhetorical appeals and bring your big idea to life in a way that will truly move your audience to action.

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Cicero’s Five Canons: If it Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It

Last week’s Mega-Double in Professional Communication and Presentation (that would be 8 hours of class…in one day…at once…) focused on the following topics:

  • What 10 qualities students want to work to embody in their own presentations
  • An introduction to my favorite TED talk, Benjamin Zander’s, “On music and passion”
  • How to manage presentation anxiety
  • The importance of thorough audience analysis
  • Nancy Duarte’s New Slide Ideology
  • Garr Reynold’s Naked Presenter/techniques for delivering engaging presentations

That was a light day, actually. What always falls by the wayside that I just can’t seem to find a new place for are Cicero’s Five Canons of Rhetoric.

Seriously, I sneak this in during persuasion, but it should be part of the first day. It’s time to really have a heart to heart with the part of me that is willing to cut mercilessly like Ira Glass. Until then, I share my two cents on Cicero’s Five Canons with you here. Cicero, whom I refer to as the OG of oration, developed these canons or arts between 55-51 BCE as a means of further standardizing the work Aristotle had first developed in On Rhetoric in the 5th century BCE. Cicero, although a great orator, as a supporter of the Republic, struggled against the power-hungry First Triumvirate, Julius Caesar’s taking of Rome, and the Second Triumvirate’s power plays. He met his end at the hands of Mark Antony.  Though currently not in fashion as a great rhetorician, Cicero’s study of the process of speech remains a staple of public speaking curricula. These are the five keys to any great speech, and they fit in nicely with Nancy Duarte’s presentation ecosystem of message, visual story, and delivery.

Invention

According to rhetoric god, Jay Heinrich’s, Cicero, who was considered the greatest orator of his time, believed that invention was more important than delivery. Heinrich’s quotes Cicero, stating that “eloquence without wisdom has often been a great obstacle and never an advantage” (Source). It is this searching out of wisdom, the seeking of knowledge that is applied via experience that characterizes invention best.



In the invention phase, presenters seek out the means of best appealing to their audience; they determine counter-arguments, complete audience personas, conduct surveys, and conduct deep research into credible sources of information. In this phase of the presentation development process, the best rule of thumb is to resist the urge to cut and delete. This is about getting everything out and finding all connective points.

In class, I introduce them to a few more thoughts on invention, including those of Duarte, Reynolds, and Godin, as well as introducing them to Dan Pink’s concept of “A Whole New Mind.” I use Pink’s concept of thinking with a whole mind because this objective, creative and logical approach to planning a presentation taps into all of our strengths as humans. Great invention takes a whole minded approach.


Arrangement

 While it may seem obvious to us that arranging and organizing our ideas into a digestible, understandable, and concrete structure, for orators in Cicero’s time, organizing one’s ideas around a centralized point was not so obvious. While critics of Cicero’s canons claim the rigidity of his method kills creativity, I find liberation in constraints, and as one of my students’ major concerns is the “flow” of their presentations, I believe some study into arrangement can only help.
For Cicero, arrangement was divided into six parts: “an introduction, a statement of facts, a division between ideas (if there is one), proof or evidence supporting all ideas, refutation of ideas, an optional digression, and conclusion” (Source).  A presenter uses logic, emotion, and credibility to build each of these chunks and considers the tools in his or her rhetorical arsenal when determining what goes where. For instance, in class, we discuss the importance of beginning with strong emotional or intellectual PUNCH, creating a strong initial impression of credibility, and providing a clear big idea and Duarte’s crossing of the threshold in the introduction.
Another strategy we use in class is storyboarding. My students’ prepare a Pecha Kucha presentation in two weeks as part of their major projects in class. With only two weeks, every moment becomes important, especially the moments devoted to arrangement. As a PK is not your typical presentation and presenters are often anxious about connectivity, exact organization, and flow, we use storyboarding to help create a dynamic, visually-driven structure before slide design begins.

Style

Style in terms of language has less to do with overly flowery phrases, fancy jargon, and elaborate metaphors and much more to do with the speaker applying his or her natural strengths and the three rhetorical appeals to how he or she speaks and presents the information. An orator’s style arsenal depends on experience, comfort level, and intellect, but it often includes one staple–storytelling. Telling stories is a universal form of conveying evidence, emotion, and credibility that has been a staple of the human experience, since pre-literate times as Nancy Duarte explains. Stories not only help touch your audience emotionally (at least, well written stories chock full of relatable characters, concrete detail, and significance), but they also provide tangible evidence and proof (assuming you are not lying). Finally, stories also lend speakers credibility, illustrating a personal connection to the topic and similarity with the audience.

Memory

This is probably the canon I devote the least attention to in class, partly because it is each presenter’s responsibility to practice and prepare, but also because as I’ve learned, the best messages are not memorized, but internalized so that they are delivered as if they are from memory. Unlike the Romans, though, we don’t devote attention to the memory and internalization centers of our children’s minds. We increasingly rely on tools to help us remember, going so far as using a slideshow as a teleprompter. For Cicero, “memory is the treasury and guardian of all things.” It is the presenter’s task to internalize a message and know it as well as she knows her childhood home.

Check out my post on rehearsing a PechaKucha for some excellent internalization advice from Felix Jung of Avoision.com.

Delivery

Cicero’s final canon is delivery. Delivery, while it may seem to be all about flashy hand gestures, projection, articulation, and eye contact, is so much more about conveying one’s natural passion for a subject. As Garr Reynold’s puts it in The Naked Presenter, presenting naked “means connecting and engaging with an audience…in a way that is direct, honest, and clear. …The naked approach embraces the ideas of simplicity, integrity, and passion” (Source). In class, we study his approach to delivering an engaging presentation–connect, engage, sustain, and end powerfully.

 

So, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Apply Cicero’s five canons of rhetoric to your next presentation and make one of history’s greatest orators (and your audience) proud!

 

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Michael Fassbender makes everything better

So, in tweaking my slides for tomorrow, I sought out a strong representation of Kenneth Burke’s concept of identification that was not about Hitler or Martin Luther King. I hit upon the example of Magneto of X-Men, which of course gave me an excellent chance to search for an image of Magneto, and who better to choose than Michael Fassbender (sorry, Sir Ian McKellen..I really really like Fassbender), who most recently portrayed the complicated leader o’ rogue mutants and owner of all things metallic. Magneto uses identification, the seeking out of similarities between a speaker and audience (even when such similarities are unknown or denied), to gain the trust and allegiance of mutants like Mystique. He works to differentiate the mutant, the superior, from the human or inferior. It is this acknowledgement of common superiority that leads to the rift between Magneto and Professor X. I take this slide below as a lovely end to my night of tweaks to tomorrow’s session on rhetoric and persuasion.

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Tip of the Day: Instead of Poetry, Paint Pictures

I am currently on a real Asian food kick. I’ve had the deliciousness that is Tako Cheena twice in the past week; I made summer rolls for the first time last night, and I am currently waiting for chicken for some thai curry chicken soup to defrost. As I wait, I tweak, Pinterest, and Alltop. I ran across this interesting analysis of Obama’s speech on the economy, which addressed the ongoing divergence in solutions for our economic woes, by master rhetorician Jay Heinrichs. If you don’t know (shame on you!), Heinrichs is author of one of my favorite irreverent and insightful takes on rhetoric in practice, Thank You for Arguing, a look through the rabbit hole into the matrix that is rhetoric. Heinrichs believes that while Obama’s “passage sounds concise, thoughtful, and poetic” it is that poetry that fails to truly resonate with Obama’s target, the American people.

Heinrichs praises the use of antithesis, symploce, and paronomasia (in essence, the use and amplification of contrast), but says that the failing is not in the use of “snappy” poetics, but in failing to understand the blurriness created by these poetics. Heinrichs suggests instead that a simple, concrete metaphor would help deliver a clear message to Americans.

“The basic message is sound, and Obama will be right to stick to it: when the fairness gap gets too wide, the whole economy risks falling into it. But instead of figures, the Democrats need to learn to use images.”  –Figaro (aka Jay Heinrichs of Figures of Speech Served Fresh

So, today’s tip of the day is a concrete metaphor is worth 1000 paronomasias. When in doubt, keep it vivid.

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The Rhetoric of Presentation Design: Logos

I’d like to finish up this series on the rhetoric of presentation design by quoting my favorite, Vulcan, Mr. Spock.

JD Hancock

Logos at its most basic level is about evidence and the presentation of that evidence in a reasonable way. Were we all like Mr. Spock, we would only need logos–facts, evidence, logical organization, clear reasoning, and truth (or Truth). Logic sets Spock and other Vulcans apart from the rest of us humanoids, who are driven by a natural need for authority and our often irrational and destructive emotions. But, if we were all Vulcans, life would likely be pretty boring (Vulcans don’t laugh, dance, drink, or play). As it is, the fact that we are not emotionless, logic-driven alien demi-gods means that we must also ensure our use of logic is engaging, useful, relevant, and understandable.

I love reading blogs (and recently, writing them), and one of my favorites is Six Minutes. Their series on rhetoric and persuasion is practical, useful information for everyday presenters. One of my favorite resources for the practical development of logos is this article from Six Minutes. Andrew Dlugan lays out 17 ways to ensure your logos is understandable (can your audience understand all of your points?), logical (do your points make sense?), and real (is your evidence concrete?). I am going to discuss the ones that most relate to the logos of your slides.

Make your Slides Understandable

1. Use diagrams and charts.

Diagrams: Frugal Dad (Left), GOOD (Top Right), Bureau of Labor Statistics (Bottom Right)

A well-designed diagram, with a bit of help from you, can make for an awesome piece of evidence. This video from infographic masters Column Five sums up why visualizing data helps users make sense of a dense information jungle.

Check out this awesome visualization--it's a response to the current place of Wal-mart in American society and economics.

Check out Alltop’s infographics section for more awesome examples like the ones above.

2. Use progressive disclosure.

Showing only one item at a time draws attention to sequences and processes, bettering your audience's understanding of subject.

 { circle }.. (॓.॔)ノ゙

Showing one element at a time, or progressive disclosure is like your presentation’s “More” button. Using progressive disclosure, as Good does in their series of infographic videos can aid you in revealing information to your audience in an understandable and clear way.

Make Your Slides Logical

1. Leverage commonplaces with a quote.

Speaking to a room full of venture capitalists?

findustrip

Leveraging the commonplaces or shared values of achievement and single-minded purpose through a quote can help show the inherent logic of your argument.

2. Drive questions with impacting visuals.

My favorite example of using an immediately recognizable image in conjunction with an excellent thought-provoking question is Michael Pollan’s 2009 PopTech talk on the Sun Food Agenda.

Ed Yourdon

Pollan shows us an image of a the now ubiquitous Quarter Pounder with Cheese from McDonald’s and asks the audience if they’ve ever wondered where this meal comes from, what the process is from beginning to end. He then answers the question for the audience by describing the step by step life cycle of a beef cow. He keeps the seemingly harmless image of the burger fresh in the audience’s mind as he exposes them to the reality behind this product. If you haven’t seen Pollan’s talk, it’s a must watch and a fantastic example of how slides can be used to successfully develop each of your rhetorical appeals.

Michael Pollan: Sustainable Food

Make Your Slides Real

1. Apply the picture superiority effect consistently.

Ed Yourdon

Something else Pollan does in his Pop Tech talk that engages his audience and illustrates the validity of his words is his consistent use of the picture superiority effect. Each of Pollan’s visuals features either impacting images (such as his shots of a cattle farm he dubs “Cowschwitz”) or incredibly simple and immediately recognizable pictorals, such as his comparison of how much waste 150,000 cows produce (the equivalent of the entire city of Chicago).

2. Use visuals to reinforce verbal stories.

I’d like to direct you to TOMS as an example of using visuals to reinforce stories.

katerha

The story of TOMS shoes is an impacting one; the organization is committed to its “one for one” campaign, whose effort has always been to improve the quality of life of children by providing them with a free pair of shoes.

TOMS doesn't just show you cool shoes; they show you why these shoes matter.

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But, it’s not the shoe alone TOMS customers are drawn to–what draws TOMS’ customers is Blake’s story.

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The Rhetoric of Presentation Design: Pathos

Image: HikingArtist.com

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 TED.com 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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