#SOTD 27: The Terminator’s heart-felt speech

1. Make me Understand / 2. Make me Engaged / 3. Make me Care / 4. Make me Trust, Believe and Act

#SOTD 27: The Terminator’s heart-felt speech

Amongst the many voices being heard on the Russia-Ukraine war, one surprising appeal issued last week went viral and had the internet abuzz.

It was from Arnold Schwarzenegger, actor and ex-Governor of California. And it was a great case study in Aristotle’s three modes of persuasion.​​

About 2.300 years ago, the Greek philosopher Aristotle had distilled the essence of persuasion into three key elements: Ethos, Pathos and Logos.

– Ethos stands for Credibility/trust in the speaker;

– Pathos refers to the emotional appeal and

– Logos refers to the logic and facts the underpin the argument.​

I’ve written earlier about the use of this framework – for example here and here.​

What was interesting in Arnold’s speech was how much importance he gave each element.

Ethos to kick things off

In the 1,170-word speech he spends the entire first one-third of the appeal building up his ethos:

He knows that Russians are mistrustful of any western voices. And so he is essentially telling them: ‘I am not a typical “Russia-hater”. In fact, I genuinely love you guys, especially this childhood hero of mine!’​​

Notice the amount of detail in the story about his weightlifting hero – the big hands, the photo, the blue coffee cup. Adding the right amount of detail – using the ‘show, don’t just tell’ principle – makes the story easier to believe for the audience.

After Ethos, a bit of Logos

After this intro, he spends about 129 words (about 10%) outlining the logical arguments against the war:

And then a whole lot of Pathos

Ultimately he makes his audience see and feel the futility of the war.

He doesn’t just say that war is brutal… he says “When I see babies being pulled out of ruins…” making his audience see the horrors of conflict.​

He makes them feel the immense negative repercussions on innocent lives – whether they be of elderly Ukrainians or young Russian soldiers.​

He reminds them that ‘this is not your fight’. He reminds them of the Russian-speaking relatives they have in Ukraine.

Finally he makes them feel for the ordinary people back in Russia who are actually protesting against the war… and concludes with a ‘callback‘ to his Russian hero at the end. (An “I’ll be back” tribute?!)​

This 10 minute speech may seem like something spoken straight from the heart… which I’m sure it would be.​​

But, I wouldn’t discount the hours of preparation and drafting that made it a compelling and heartfelt plea.​

#SOTD 27

Many thanks to Chandresh Natu for bringing this to my notice!

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