To craft a compelling pitch, think in threes.
1, 2, 3. Beginning, middle, and end. Ready, set, go. Know, like, trust. Gold, silver, bronze. Trilogies. The rule of thirds in photography. You get the gist.
For centuries, the human brain has been wired to think in threes. We gravitate towards threes because we like patterns, and it happens to take a minimum of three things to form a pattern.
According to Aristotle, there are three key elements of persuasion: ethos, pathos, and logos.
Inspired by this concept, I've come up with a three-part framework you can use when crafting your pitch:
1. Ethos - Cultivate trust.
2. Pathos - Evoke emotional connection.
3. Logos - Appeal to reason.
Let's dive into each of these three key elements of effective content:
No. 1: Ethos
Ethos is persuasion by cultivating trust. The goal is to demonstrate that your brand is trustworthy. Typically, it's best to start with ethos as a strategy for establishing trust early on.
Here’s how to apply ethos:
Consistency - consistently communicate about your brand through words, imagery, and action. Be intentional about your messaging and tone of voice in all communications, external and internal. Carefully curate the imagery you use to reflect your brand. Embody what your brand stands for in every single customer, employee, and brand touchpoint.
Credentials - convey your brand's competence. Highlight your expertise, experience, and qualifications within your industry. Communicate your knowledge through subject matter expertise and thought leadership. Include your education, certifications, awards, and accolades. Mention affiliations with top-tier experts, partners, clients etc.
Social Proof - demonstrate that other people trust your brand. Secure genuine and positive client testimonials, expert endorsements, recommendations, and referrals. Showcase media logos, press features, influencer placements, along with ratings and reviews.
No. 2: Pathos
Pathos is persuasion by evoking emotional connection. Oftentimes, pathos comprises a majority of your pitch since it's the most likely to catalyze action.
Here’s how to apply pathos:
Core Values - embody your brand's core values. These are the guiding principles, deeply held beliefs, motivations, hopes, dreams, and perspectives of your culture. When you lead with your core value, those who share your values will be drawn to you, your story, and your brand.
Stories - share your purpose, vision, mission, and personal experience. Use powerful anecdotes, metaphors, analogies, and examples. The key is to evoke emotion, positive or negative. For example, if your story elicits intrigue, you'll trigger dopamine, and capture attention. Add empathy, you'll prompt oxytocin, and foster a bond. Infuse humor, you'll activate endorphins, and spark the imagination.
Experiences - integrate your culture's values through tangible experiences. Leverage multimedia content like images, audio, and video. Create a sensory experience through space design, visualization techniques, detailed descriptions, and tactile sensations like infusing tastes and smells.
Because we live in an attention economy, pathos is increasingly vital. To cut through the noise, you must evoke an emotional connection, give someone goosebumps, make them smile, or tear up.
No 3: Logos
Logos is persuasion by appealing to reason. Typically, logos comes after pathos since it's more effective to introduce rational logic once your audience is already emotionally invested. The goal to confirm what your audience feels is true with evidence.
Here’s how to apply logos:
Facts & Figures - provide evidence, numbers, analytics, statistics, research, case studies, charts, or graphs to support your argument. One caveat, be careful to not overwhelm or bore your audience with too much data.
Organization - format your story in a simple to understand, easy-to-follow order. The left side of the brain appreciates simplicity, predictability, and certainty.
Universal Truths - ground an argument in reality, share common worldviews and beliefs to prove your points are valid and true.
When analyzing the top TED talks, you'll find that story (aka pathos) takes up most of the presentation. In fact, top talks tend to be comprised of 10% ethos, 65% pathos, and 25% logos.
Now it's time to leverage ethos, pathos, and logos to craft your pitch!