Effective communicators have assessed their audiences. Effective
communicators try to understand what kinds of people are in the
audience so that they can craft communication strategies to best
“reach” or affect their audience. An effective communicator
will make decisions about which strategies will best affect their
audience so that the communicator can accomplish his or her purpose.
These strategies can be identified in three main categories. These
categories are called “appeals.” They are called appeals
because they appeal to a sense of the audience. The communicator
makes conscious decisions about which appeals he/she will use based
on the audience he/she is trying to affect.
Ethos: The appeal to ethics refers to the character or the communicator.
The character of the communicator is reflected in decisions the
communicator makes about how to represent himself in the text. References
to the communicator’s experience, knowledgeability, background,
authority, and expertise count as appeals to ethos. The character
of the communicator is also reflected in his decisions to consider
other perspectives, and whether or not he treats the opposition
fairly. His/her open mindedness towards others, and willingness
to be self-critical also represents character. The tone that the
communicator uses with his audience is also indicative of his/her
Logos: The appeal to logic refers to the kinds of reasoning used
by the communicator. Reason is what moves most people to make decisions
or actions. Logic is thus an essential element in persuading people.
There are many different ways to reason with people. Which ones
a communicator uses will depend upon his/her audience and purpose.
These can include: definition of terms and concepts; analogy, metaphor,
and/or simile; comparison and/or contrast; deductive and/or inductive
reasoning; examples, statistics, and/or facts; precedents; law;
cause and/or effect.
Pathos: The appeal to emotion refers to the strategies a communicator
uses that are meant to affect the emotions of the audience. This
can be to invoke fear, to invoke eagerness, to invoke jealousy,
to invoke happiness and etcetera. A communicator can use narration,
description, tone, as well as emotionally charged images or words
to affect emotion. The style and/or tone of the text can also affect
emotion, for example, the rhythm or repetition of a text can sway
Appeals are meant to motivate people to act or think differently:
most people are motivated to act or think differently because:
• Someone they trust tells them they should (ethos)
• There are good reasons to (logos)
• They feel compelled to (pathos)
Effective communicators make decisions to use certain appeals because
they want to motivate their audience to act or think differently.