The principles of engagement are as old as Western civilization. Aristotle broke persuasion into three elements: ethos, logos, pathos. As with hotspots, all three work together to engage people and inspire them to follow.
Ethos is character or, in a sense, credibility. This is the answer to, “why should I listen to this person or this message?” Sometimes we have credibility immediately—based on our connection to others our our reputation—but we can also build credibility in various ways. In the data-heavy world we live in, for instance, a grasp of data and its import generally builds ethos.
Logos is the logic or narrative that makes sense of facts and the world around us. This is the answer to, “what’s the message?” To engage people, listeners must be able to trace the reasoning, follow the story that the speaker tells.
Pathos is the emotional resonance for the audience. This is the answer to, “how does it connect to me?” It’s not enough to have dry facts or even facts that have clear logic. To engage people we must connect (modestly) emotionally—listeners should be able to see themselves in the message.
These interlocking principles have stood the test of time. To engage, to persuade we must balance these three elements.