What are the key factors of a successful presidential rally? Charismatic voice? Convincing arguments in support of your candidacy? Maybe exposing facts about your competitors? How do our candidates make us believe in their words? Multiple techniques of persuasion have been used by politicians for centuries. My goal in this article is to explain some of them. As an example, I will use a recent rally of democratic candidate Michael Bloomberg.
Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg visited Memphis Friday, February 28th to speak at a Get Out the Vote Rally ahead of the primary election the week after. You can find that speech here. The whole event lasted about two hours and the actual speech was about 30 minutes long, which is quite standard for this type of event.
Apart from the Michael Bloomberg speech, there were several music bands and a short introduction made by Memphis mayor Jim Strickland and some other officials. The speech itself was a final part of the rally and its culmination point. It was nice and convincing, but in this article, I want to examine not what he said, but how he did it.
Art of persuasion
We know three elements of persuasive speech: ethos, pathos, and logos. Logos refers to the logic, the words, and the reasons in your argument. The second aspect of persuasion—ethos—refers to your character, ethics, and your believability when you speak. Increasing your credibility with your audience before and during your speech increases the likelihood that listeners will accept your arguments and take action on your recommendations. Pathos is the emotional content of your presentation and is likely the most important. It is only when you move people at an emotional level that you can motivate them to change their thinking and take a particular action.
As we can see, during his speech Mike Bloomberg has used all three elements of persuasion. His posture was confident, voice strong and clear, he was not just reading from the sheet of paper, but talking to the audience. That’s the use of ethos.
At the beginning of his speech, he paid tribute to the city of Memphis and its long and glorious history of the civil rights movement. Mike also mentioned that the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. still lives in our hearts and we need to “keep march that he led moving forward.” That was a professional use of pathos. He appealed to the patriotic feelings of Memphians and demonstrated his respect for our history and culture.
In the middle of his speech, Michael Bloomberg used logos to convince the audience in his ability to run the country even during the crisis. As evidence, he used his experience of being mayor of New York. “I was elected just seven weeks after devastating attack of 9/11 and at that time our city was in shambles, the economy had fallen apart, but I brought people together in this city and we got help from all the other 49 states and many countries all around the world. Together we created nearly 500 000 jobs after 9/11; 100 000 units of affordable housing; we reduce street homelessness by 30%; we launched the new programs to fight poverty; we built our city and it came out stronger than ever.”
Elements of a great speech
While examining the techniques of persuasion we should take into account that the speech itself is not 100% of success. There were multiple other parts of the rally preceding it such as music bands, state officials, and other lecturers. Their purpose is simply to prepare the audience and to create the right mode. These preparations are a least as important as the speech itself because they create the “fertile soil” for a candidate to plant his ideas and to call for action. Sometimes, right before the candidate speech, there is a 5-10 minute pose. The purpose of it is to spur the curiosity and make the audience accept the speech as something long-awaited and extremely valuable. However, on that particular rally, the pose was about half an hour – too long as for me.
Overall, this event was a good example of how the presidential rally should look like. It was a little disorganized but well-structured and entertaining. The speech itself was well delivered and very persuasive. Mike Bloomberg possesses all the skills needed to convince people and to make them trust in his words.
So, as we can see from the example, there are various techniques used by politicians to convince the people to vote for them. In this article, I haven’t explained even half of them. Using those techniques of persuasion our politicians can convince us of almost everything, so we should remember that no matter how charismatic and persuading the speech is, the content is always a priority. No matter how good the campaign promises are, we need to take into account how that particular candidate fulfills his promises. And only when you agree with your candidate on how to make life in America better, than you can him your vote.
Great post. I like your engagement of the Aristotle’s three elements of persuasive speech in this contemporary, political context. The relative success of Bloomberg’s presidential campaign, however, cannot be properly analyzed without acknowledging the role of his wealth. His personal wealth allowed his rhetoric to reach people – a necessary prerequisite to rhetoric that moves people.
First off, that was a great job! I enjoyed reading the whole thing! I found it interesting just as Saadia that you used the three elements of the persuasive speech. Though rather than just tell us what they are you detailed where it was used in the speech. Pathos being used to inspire feelings of patriotism, logos by proving his potential, and how he showed his ethos when he spoke. Though I agree with Saadia about Bloomberg flexing his wealth, I believe to some extent his rhetoric did make people feel inspired and believe in him.