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Rhetorical Devices in Presentations & Training

Rhetoric is the written or spoken language that strives to inform using forms of persuasion described by Aristotle as ethos, pathos, and logos. When viewed through an L&D lens the rhetorical devices presented in this model can be useful as we think about the value our training provides to our participants.

As you develop, design, review, or manage your next training ask yourself your activities and content appeal to the spoken word modes of persuasion.


What makes this information credible?  Are you just making up a process or is it backed by some research or guided by standards? Citations from credible sources, personal experience, or specific values appeal to the ethos of a training.


How do your participants emotionally connect with your content? In a software training, are you appealing to how this will improve their work? During inclusion training, are you demonstrating how diversity enriches a work environment? Appeal to your participants’ pathos with stories, similes, or powerful imagery. Keep in mind that your training should not completely rely on pathos, it is a complement to ethos and logos.


The supporting information, statistics, technology, and other heavy content appeal to our logical appeal. Logos balances out the appeals by adding credibility enhancing the ethos and explaining what can be learned from the pathos.

After all, training is about trying to make a change, to get convince our participants to see things in a new way. Take a page from Aristotle’s Art of Rhetoric and try to appeal to your participants’ ethos, pathos, and logos.

Do you use rhetorical devices in presentations or training? Let’s talk about it in the comments below!

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