Philosophically Speaking

20th August 2017

In this age of hyper-connectivity, it’s helpful to get back to what clarity of communication is all about, by taking a leaf out of what is a very large book indeed – Aristotle’s Rhetoric. If you think it’s all Greek to you, here are some highlights:

1. Teleology – A Sense of Purpose Teleology (Greek: telos: end, purpose) is summed up by the ancient Greek philosopher as follows: “First, have a definite, clear practical ideal: a goal, an objective. Second, have the necessary means to achieve your ends: wisdom, money, materials, and methods. Third, adjust all your means to that end.” Always relate your communication to your purpose. Never, ever lose sight of that. It sounds obvious but I seldom see it applied consistently.

2. Ethos – Become the Authority Ethos is authority and credibility personified – achieved by the cultivation of a distinctive character, knowledge and experience.

3. Pathos – Engage the Emotions Pathos describes what’s in it for your audience, with a set of compelling benefits, values and beliefs.

4. Logos – Use Proof Points Logos means applying relevant facts and figures to support your case. Use the three modes of rhetoric, Ethos, Pathos and Logos, together for maximum effect.

5. Structure Your Story Here’s Aristotle’s six-step guide to writing compelling, captivating copy and powerful presentations (subject to considerable poetic license):

Exordium – Big Intro
Follow up a bold statement with a big intro that captures your target audiences’ attention and imagination. Mix ethos with logos to establish credibility.

Narratio – Empathy
Show the audience you really identify with them and that you feel their pain.

Partitio – Contents
Outline to your audience what you’re just about to tell them in a way that heightens anticipation and helps them remember the key points.

Confirmatio – The Solution
Outline your solution. Use case studies featuring similar organizations or demographics to that of your audience, together with facts to support your case.

Refutatio – Competitive Advantage
Take the opportunity to position the strengths of your organization, based on key attributes where your competitors are weakest.

Peroratio – Call to Action
After a headline summary of your business case, use a strong call to action to close, with the emphasis on keeping a strong emotional appeal.

Think Ansoff, Covey, Kotler, Levitt, Mintzberg and Porter, rolled into one brilliantly be-robed and bearded package. Aristotle still has a lot to teach financial marketers.

 

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