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Business Presentation Skills: Making Arguments

Guides from the OWL at Purdue

Rhetoric: Logos Ethos Pathos

A Summary of Aristotle's Appeals . . .

The goal of argumentation is to persuade your audience that your ideas are valid, or more valid than someone else's. The Greek philosopher Aristotle divided the means of persuasion, appeals, into three categories--Logos, Ethos, Pathos.

Logos (Logic) means persuading by the use of reasoning. This is a very important technique in academic writing, but also when making persuasive presentation, and it was Aristotle's favorite. Consider both  deductive and inductive reasoning, and what makes an effective, persuasive reason to back up your claims. Giving reasons is the heart of argumentation, and cannot be emphasized enough. What types of support can you use to substantiate your thesis, and what are some of the common logical fallacies, that you should avoid in your writing?  

Ethos (Credibility), or ethical appeal, means convincing by the character of the author. We tend to believe people whom we respect. One of the central problems of argumentation is to project an impression to the reader that you are someone worth listening to, in other words making yourself as author into an authority on the subject of the paper, as well as someone who is likable and worthy of respect.  Be sure your audience is aware of your credentials and why you are qualified to address the topic about which you are speaking.

Pathos (Emotion) means persuading by appealing to the reader's emotions. We can look at texts ranging from classic essays to contemporary advertisements to see how pathos, emotional appeals, are used to persuade. Language choice affects the audience's emotional response, and emotional appeal can effectively be used to enhance an argument.

SOURCE:  adapted from Durham Technical College handout

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