Published July 05, 2013 · Estimated reading time: 2 minutes · Filed under

I was invited to give some tips on evaluating speeches for a Toastmasters Newsletter. I thought it might be worthwhile to share.

Back to the basics
Marzieh Ghisi, CC, CL, President of McGill Toastmasters Club

“In making a speech one must study three points: first, the means of producing persuasion; second, the language; third the proper arrangement of the various parts of the speech.”
-Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC)

The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle described the means of persuasion as a triangle made of 3 parts: logos (logic and reasoning), ethos (trust and authority), pathos (emotions and beliefs). When evaluating a speech, there are many things to consider but I like to keep it simple so I have developed a modified version of Aristotle’s triangle for public speaking purposes: what did they say? how did they say it? did it capture the audience?

What did they say? Things that made sense!
“Logos” means convincing by logic and reasoning, with clarity and evidence to support your message. The way a speech is written, the way it flows from once concept to the other, the introduction and conclusion should all be clear and logical.

How did they say it? Loud and confident!
“Ethos” means convincing by establishing trust and authority, and giving your audience the impression that you are someone worth listening to. The focus is on the speaker here. Great speakers can have audiences listening to them. They seem worth listening to because they appear to know something— because of the way they’re dressed, their posture and their body language.

Did they engage me? Yes!
Finally, “pathos” means appealing to your audience’s emotions and beliefs. In public speaking, this can be achieved in a variety of ways. The eyes are the window of the soul, and the best way communicate emotions. So when you look the audience in the eyes, you are immediately engaging them at an emotional level. Your words can have the power to make people laugh or cry or go “hmmm!” Asking the audience to participate, asking them questions, and allowing them to reflect on their own experiences and beliefs are also a great ways to engage your audience.

With the above triangle in mind when evaluating a speech, you can almost guarantee a great evaluation that will not only be valuable for the speaker you are assessing, but will also be worth listening to.

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