Finishing up this short series on rhetoric, persuasion, and leadership, I want to help us rethink and reframe persuasion. After dealing with the question of logic or emotion, now we come to how I think we should look at how to influence and lead others, regardless of the organization you lead.

Utilizing Aristotle’s appeals, neuroscience’s research, Duarte’s common structure, and Kouzes and Posner’s leadership characteristics, a way to integrate all these for effective persuasion can be developed. Why? A big part of a business leader’s responsibilities is to motivate people to achieve certain goals. To do that, the leader has to engage the person’s emotions (Fryer).

Traditional rhetoric, giving statistics and facts and quotes from authorities has two problems, according to screenwriter, professor, and consultant Robert McKee. First, the people spoken to will have their own set of authorities, statistics, and experiences. While the communicator is trying to persuade them, those people are arguing back in their heads. Second, if the leader does succeed in persuading them, they have done so only on an intellectual basis. That’s not good enough, because people are not inspired to act by reason alone (Fryer, para. 5).

McKee continues, stating that a second “way to persuade people—and ultimately a much more powerful way—is by uniting an idea with an emotion. The best way to do that is by telling a compelling story” (Fryer, para. 6). This connects with Duarte’s back and forth resonance concept because leaders not only have to understand their companies’ past, but then they must construct a “what will be if we do this” future.

It might be expressed in the following manner. Each of Aristotle’s appeals have equal weight. One does not have prominence over the other and effective rhetoric not only uses all three appeals …read more

Considerations for communicating to the masses

About ten years ago, I took a doctoral class in Mass Communication at the University of Alabama. In part of our discussion, I learned that research begun in the 1940′s began to reveal something very interesting in the field of mass communicating, something I didn’t anticipate. The research showed that mass communication (speeches, advertisements, etc) really wasn’t for the masses. In fact, it’s influence among the masses was limited. Instead, the research showed that all forms of mass communication influenced what became know as opinion leaders. It was the opinion leaders who actually influenced the masses. And those opinion leaders changed depending upon the topic. This was the foundation of what became the Multi step Flow Model.

Plato originated the term rhetoric. However, prior to that many scholars believe the term logos was a precursor to the actual term rhetoric. Now I know there maybe a difference of opinion regarding the validity of that but assume with me for a moment that was the case.

Just for intrigue’s sake, please allow me to bring in some Greek from the Bible. There are two verses in the New Testament that I want to highlight. John 1:1, that says, “In the beginning was the Word (logos)…” Then in verse 14, “and the Word (logos) became flesh…” I realize that logos used here may be a technical term. However, in using it, the biblical writer is noting the relational aspect of the Word (logos).

Let’s now do a little integration. Combine the meaning of logos from rhetoric and the meaning of logos from the biblical writer and what we come up with, in effect, is a relational rhetoric. Persuasion, influence and change happen within the context of both the masses and the minute (not the time, but …read more