If you’d like to get better at everyday communication… or want to improve the writing or speaking you do for the public, such as blog posts, lectures to students, sermons, presentations at work, etc… then the below formula will help you.
Every communication should have what Aristotle called: logos, pathos, and ethos.
Logos – Something for the mind. This could be a new piece of information or tip that the reader/listener can apply. It could be a story that doesn’t outright teach but lets the reader come to the conclusion himself. It is the substance of what you are saying/writing. Make sure you actually have something to say and don’t tell them something they’ve heard hundreds of times already.
Pathos – Something for the emotions. Ask yourself how you want the reader/listener to feel afterwards. Uplifted? Sad? Motivated? Angry and ready to take action? When your reader/listener is feeling that particular emotion they will be more interested in what you say.
People tend to remember how you make them feel more than what you actually say. Also, they are going to feel a certain way afterwards anyway, even if you give it no thought, so you might as well give this consideration while preparing.
Above all, you should avoid making them feel bored. Get to the point. If you have a clear beginning, middle and end to your communication, it will help you avoid the trap of writing/speaking in circles until you find something to say.
I have several blog posts sitting in my draft file because I don’t have a good beginning or middle or conclusion to them. I’ve ditched many drafts of writing projects for clients for the same reason. Perhaps the most common mistake I see is when a writer/speaker has only a middle and no beginning or conclusion.
If your topic is dry in nature, you can still alleviate the boredom by making it more fun by adding visuals such as a video, photos or clip art, or telling an interesting story associated with the topic. The fun factor doesn’t have to be of the “hahaha” variety, but simply anything that helps make your reader/listener feel more energized by what you have to say.
Ethos – Something for the imagination. The reader should be able to imagine how your message will apply to their life. It should be clear to them what they are to do with your information. Don’t leave them hanging.
Speaking/writing is a two way street: you communicate your message and the reader/listener runs with it. It’s not all about you.
The word “imagine” is one of the most powerful words you can use. Storytelling is the best device for engaging the imagination of your readers/listeners and for applying this entire formula.