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Presentation Ideas from Ancient Greece: Pitching With Pathos

Have you been seeing more and more people dozing off during a speech? Without proper communication, audiences can’t be engaged no matter how interesting your topic is. If you’re looking for a tried and tested Classical approach, here’s another of those presentation ideas from Ancient Greece.

In a previous post, we discussed the building blocks set by the Greeks for interpersonal communication: logos, pathos, and ethos. We’ve spoken about Ethos and the importance of building your credibility as a speaker.

Now, it’s time to talk about how to ease the transformation through one of the other pillars: Pathos.

What is Pathos?

Pathos is a mode of persuasion that appeals to an audience’s emotions. It enhances an argument by making listeners identify with the speaker’s perspective. If Ethos eases the transfer of the message, Pathos increases its effectivity.

Think of Pathos as how easily your audience sympathizes with you. A sympathetic audience will more likely react to your pitch and respond positively to your Call-to-Action. Remember that you can’t win minds without also winning hearts.

Why Emotional Appeal Works

When it comes to winning arguments, the Ancient Greeks knew that passion could be stronger than reason. In the young democracy of the Athenian Greeks, appealing to citizens’ emotions allowed them to galvanize and unite their populace in the face of repeated adversities.

This worked whenever they had arguments with the other city-states. It even allowed them to bring other city-states into the Delian League – a sort of ancient United Nations. You can’t persuade everyone with just emotions, however. Look to Pathos as the way to prime your listener’s mental states to be more receptive to your ideas.

How to Maximize Pathos

You can appeal to emotions by relating your clients’ social and psychological needs with the purchase of a product or service. According to business gurus George and Michael Belch, consumers are more motivated by their feelings toward a brand than knowledge of its features or attributes. This shows us the significance of appealing to an audience’s emotions.

In speaking, we can use stories and narratives to frame our arguments and supporting information. Vivid and imaginative language also add color and excitement to your presentation. As the speaker, portray yourself as similarly affected by the problem you’re trying to solve, increasing the impact once you’ve presented your proposed solution.

When partnered with an effective and sympathetic Call-to-Action, you’ll be winning new clients over in no time.

To Sum It Up

The Ancient Greeks were ahead of their time, mastering oratory methods that helped unify and guide their civilization and culture. Appropriate narratives, vibrant language, and extracting empathy allows speakers to get the best emotional appeal.

Through the use of Pathos and other rhetorical techniques, Greek speakers struck emotional strings to sway their listeners and win hearts and minds. Use their timeless persuasion techniques to give your pitch an extra advantage.

Running out of ideas for your presentation pitch? Contact our SlideGeniuses now for some much needed assistance–and a free quote!



Belch, G., & Belch, M. Advertising and Promotion: An Integrated Marketing Communications Perspective (5th ed.). Boston, Mass.: Irwin/McGraw-Hill, 2001.
Delian League.” Ancient History Encyclopedia. Accessed September 4, 2015.
Presentation Ideas from Ancient Greece: Explaining Ethos.” SlideGenius, Inc. 2015. Accessed September 4, 2015.

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