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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.

Advertisers’ PowerPoint Visual Design Tips: Calls to Action

Apart from using PowerPoint visuals to prove your point, you can also use them to make a compelling call-to-action (CTA) at the end of your pitch. After all, people are more compelled to buy what they can see.

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According to ad veteran Luke Sullivan, CTAs work so well because they rely on metaphors, a quick and powerful selling tool.

More than showing what the product is and what benefits it can offer, advertising agencies have used this as a quick and powerful way to communicate to customers.

How It Works

Most people learn by associating images with concepts, which is why we equate dogs to loyalty and red colors to extreme emotions.

Concepts convey your message in one picture so you don’t have to rely on copying and pasting text.

The Harvey Nichols clothing sale print ad showed an image of pelicans crowding around a piece of fish as a metaphor for how people flock to a sale.

This approach, as opposed to showing actual people crowding over one outfit, was a more creative way of emphasizing the kind of customer demand that their brand had.

Presenters can apply metaphors to PowerPoint visual design in the same way.

Once again citing Sullivan, is there a way to graphically represent your own product? Or can you offer a different perspective on a familiar concept, similar to how Volkswagen used a picture of King Kong in pain to describe their car’s durability?

A Compelling Truth

By using a metaphor to present familiar things in an unfamiliar way, problems can be presented to clients by paving the way for your solution.

UNICEF’s print ads presented the gravity of Chile’s education problem.

Three of these ads had criminals pose as teachers, with children as their students, a parody of the regular class picture setup.

Combined with the tagline “a child who learns is an adult who teaches,” the ads showed that children were brought up by criminals and needed proper education to break them out of that life.

An Invitation to Participate

Cleverly crafted visuals encourage reader involvement.

In his book, Cutting Edge Advertising, Jim Aitchison explains that since they rely on images and stereotypes that people have built up over the years, advertising agencies twist that message so the customer can make the connection for themselves.

For example, the Comedy Central ad let customers fold a page to create funny scenarios, giving them a sense of how funny the show really was, and that if they wanted more, all they had to do was find it.

A Presenter’s Advantage

This process continues as people grow. Building your own standards extends to choices and purchase decisions.

Using visual metaphors in your sales presentations aren’t limited to dated pop culture references, but also include visible archetypes, as with the Harvey Nichols ad, or police cars hiding in bushes, similar to the MINI Cooper ad.

Use relevant images and present them with a fresh perspective to get clients to invest in your proposal.

To get the best advantage for the visuals in your presentation deck, take some time to talk to the right presentation partners!

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Aitchison, J. (2004). Cutting Edge Advertising: How to Create the World’s Best Print for Brands in the 21st Century. Singapore; New York: Prentice Hall.
Always End Your Business Presentation with a Call-to-Action.” SlideGenius, Inc. May 27, 2015. Accessed May 28, 2015.
Sullivan, L. (2008). Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This: A Guide to Creating Great Ads (3rd Ed.). Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons.
Where to Find Unique Images for Your Presentation Design.” SlideGenius, Inc. December 18, 2014. Accessed May 28, 2015.
Improve Your Presentations with the Power of the Metaphor.” SlideGenius, Inc.. November 17, 2014. Accessed. May 28, 2015.


Featured Image: “James Whitcomb Riley” from Wikimedia Commons

Always End Your Business Presentations with a Call-to-Action

If an introduction piques the audience’s interest, a call-to-action turns possible leads into sales. Speakers usually focus more on creating a catchy introduction than a closing paragraph. Its role in converting audience interest into results is sometimes overlooked in business presentations.

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Your deck’s ending statement is your last chance to leave an impact. At its most effective, it can lead your audience into acting favorably. Done haphazardly, it can either confuse or leave them hanging.

Keep Your Message Concise and Consistent

Before creating a call-to-action, refer back to your slides. Make sure they’re unified and clearly reflecting your business presentation’s main goal.

Include hints in your earlier slides so your call-to-action better fits your presentation deck. This implies your deck is building up to something important.

Provide Materials for Concrete Action

Successful persuasion means giving your audience tools to rely on. Provide concrete information including your website, phone number, and email address.

A call-to-action must include your contact details or it misses the entire point. Even if you’ve convinced them, giving them no way to contact you results in wasted opportunities.

Design the Slide for Maximum Impact

Your call-to-action slide shouldn’t rely completely on your writing but should also be visually attractive and memorable. Draw your audience’s attention by using large font statements, preferably in boldface.

Maximizing the white space onscreen makes the text more legible and striking. The fewer distracting elements they see, the more likely they’ll properly focus on and digest your message.


Communication without results is wasted effort.

Ending your slide with “Thank You” is not a powerful way to finish your speech. Always insert an effective call-to-action to consistently get the results you need.

Looking for more information on designing an effective business presentation? Book a meeting with our presentation design experts. All it takes is fifteen minutes.

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4 Important Reasons to use WhitespaceSlideGenius. Vimeo.
Marketing Presentation Mistakes That Are Costing You Clients.” SlideGenius, Inc. 2014. Accessed May 27, 2015.
Why Your Calls-to-Action Are SO Important.” White Hat Media. Accessed May 27, 2015.


Featured Image: With a Megaphone by a Wall by Garry Knight on flickr

Want Positive Response? End Your Presentation with a Call to Action Slide

“Successful persuasion leads to action” –Nancy Duarte, Resonate

The Call to Action is arguably the most crucial part of your presentation. It encapsulates the main purpose of your presentation through a bold statement that urges your audience to act on the ideas you shared with them. After having made your case, the Call to Action puts the ball into their court.

The Wall Street Journal‘s Brian Steinberg explains that CTAs can be extremely helpful in the context of marketing and advertising. But at the same time, a Call to Action is also useful for different kinds of presentations. Whether you’re giving a seminar, lecture, an investor pitch, or annual report, it’s important that you engage your audience with an objective they can act on.

Here are two things to remember when applying CTAs to your pitch:

1. Before you design a Call to Action slide, you need to work on its content.

Keep your message consistent

Think about the main goal of your presentation and refer back to your storyboard. Is this goal clear and present in the rest of your presentation deck?

Your Call to Action will feel out-of-place if you haven’t been subtly pushing your goal throughout your presentation. Highlight your presentation end-goal with key points throughout your deck.

Be brief and straight to the point

After reviewing your presentation, start writing your Call to Action by following the KISS rule: Keep it Simple, Silly. Short, simple sentences are easier to remember. Being brief will also encourage you to be as specific as possible. The message you leave with your audience should be straight to the point.

Tell them exactly what you want from them in a language that is direct, active and urgent. Make use of verbs that invoke a sense of command, and show how their action can lead to a positive effect. For example, if you’re giving a healthcare presentation on dehydration, you might say: “Drink eight glasses of water a day and your body will thank you for it.”

Provide tools for concrete action

Follow the statement with proper tools that the audience can refer to after the presentation. Offer up a website, Facebook page, contact information, and the like.

Aside from food for thought, give them something concrete to takeaway.

2. Work on a design that adds impact to your statement.

Be big and bold

Translate your Call to Action statement into visuals that are eye-catching and memorable. Draw the attention of your audience immediately by using large font sizes. Your statement should have the largest font size. We won’t give you hard-and-fast rules, but make sure it can be easily read until the very back of the room. You can follow up with your links and other tools below in a smaller font size, but still no less than 30 points.

You can then begin illustrating your Call to Action slide. Use images that are cohesive with your statement and the rest of the PowerPoint deck. Be mindful of the color scheme you’ve been using, and be wise about when to use accent colors.

Be mindful of white space

While aiming for impact, make sure your Call to Action slide isn’t too overwhelming. Maintain a balanced aesthetic by being mindful of white space.

Make sure there’s still enough room in your slide to give your content focus and impact. As you’re designing your Call to Action slide, step back every once in a while to check if there’s too much going on. You can also ask someone to check your work after you’re done.

The Final Word

Don’t say “thank you” without showing your audience a Call to Action slide. It’s important that you end your presentation with a strong statement that urges for direct and urgent action.

When done correctly, the Call to Action slide will lead your audience to reflect and decide on a positive response.



Steinberg, Brian. “‘Call to Action’ Ads Give Clients Results They Can Measure.” WSJ. Accessed July 15, 2014.
Featured Image: Horia Varlan via Flickr