Audience Appeals

By | March 4, 2014

Trying to convince your audience that your position on an issue is most sensible requires careful attention to character, reason, and emotion also referred to as ethos, logos, and pathos, respectively. These are three appeals that writers can use to persuade an audience that their arguments and claims are sound and valid.

Appeals to the audience help you to support your claims and they will also help you to provide responses to opposing arguments.

Three Important Types of Appeals to the Audience:

Appeal to Character (Ethos): Demonstrating your good character can be important in convincing an audience that what you have to say is significant. Establishing your credibility through the argument you build, the sources you incorporate, and the way you present information and data can affect the way an audience views your presentation/paper. If you are fair and accurate in your portrayal of an issue or problem, you develop your trustworthiness as a writer or speaker. Your audience will always question your judgment and values as a writer or speaker, so it is important to build a rapport with your audience to ensure your good reputation.

Appeal to Reason (Logos): Simply put, you have to have proof for what you’re saying. Audience members must be able to see the logic behind your arguments based on evidence. Providing your audience with a claim is not enough to hook an audience. Any good writer or speaker must provide reasons and evidence for their claims. Reasons are the how and why of a claim while evidence is the proof that the reason is true supporting the claim is true. Some examples of appeals to reason may include statistics and data, reports, testimony from an authority, or specific facts.

Appeal to Emotion (Pathos): Emotion can be used to deceive or frighten people, much like we see in advertisements or political campaigns. This doesn’t mean that an emotional appeal should be avoided. Sometimes a powerful story that pulls at an audience’s heartstrings is appropriate for putting them in the right frame of mind to listen to your argument. When using an appeal to emotion, be sure not to let emotion get in the way of reason, but to use emotion to illustrate a situation in a way that moves your audience to be receptive to your claims.

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