Creative Tips for Establishing Ethos

So, I stumbled upon this while researching what I wanted to post. Although a lot of this has been mentioned in class, I find that Andrew Dlugan has some very insightful and creative pieces of advice. Check out: if you want more information. I will highlight some of the suggestions I find particularly interesting below.

#3: Market Yourself (Reputation)

Developing the expertise doesn’t earn you any ethos if you don’t market yourself and let the world know about it. You’ve got to take charge of your personal brand and make sure that it’s a brand that emphasizes the qualities you want to emphasize.

#5: Show up Early to Welcome the Audience (Trustworthiness)

Showing up with minutes to spare gives the impression that you almost had somewhere more important to be. Showing up early demonstrates your dedication to serve the audience. This, in turn, builds trust.

#8: Highlight Ethos in Introduction (All)

Your introduction is probably the single best opportunity for you to establish your ethos with this audience on this day. For this reason, you should always write your own introduction. Don’t let an event organizer wing it. Highlight the essential facts that establish your trustworthiness, similarity, authority, and reputation. As in the example above, pick the material specific to this audience and topic.

#13: Reference people in the audience, or events earlier in the day (Similarity)

Earlier, we mentioned that, if possible, you should try to share the event experience with your audience. When you do, you can increase your ethos by incorporating something from that shared experience (or someone in the audience) into your speech. Your audience sees you as “one of them”, and a silent bond forms.

Example: In the presentation preceding yours, the speaker repeated a memorable phrase “It’s never too late.” If you can do it in a meaningful way, try to weave this phrase into your material.

#14: Make yourself available to your audience (Similarity)

Whenever possible, stick around after your presentation is over. Mingle with the audience and continue to share in the event experience. Not only will you have the opportunity for productive follow-up conversations, but your audience will see you as accessible, and accessible is good.


I had never really considered the huge effect showing up early to welcome people or staying later can have. Although I have noticed that speakers on panels for graduate school information typically do just this and I tend to leave with a better opinion of them. It really shows that the speaker is invested and not afraid of one-on-one interpersonal communication, that they are comfortable speaking further on the information and clarifying, and that they really are passionate.

Further, number 8 may seem a bit common sense to most of us (yes, we know we have to establish why we are there, why they should listen to us, etc. in the introduction), the suggestion to write our own rather than allowing the organizer to do so may have slipped our attention. I believe the message to never take a chance, better to be safe than sorry, applies nicely to introductions. You don’t want to miss the chance to establish your ethos quickly. However, spontaneity can sometimes pay off.

Additionally, he points out a very good piece of advice at the end of his article. He states:

“It is much harder to change your audience’s on-the-spot assessment of your authority and reputation. Your audience’s perception of you along these dimensions is mostly fixed before your speech starts. Either you are an expert in the field, or you are not. Either you have formal authority over your audience, or you don’t. Not much that you say in a one hour speech will change either of these.”

Thus, spending time working on your trustworthiness and similarity with the audience has a larger pay off.

-Giana Gregga





4 comments so far

  1. brownk19 on

    I agree that although tip number 8 is a very common sense idea for an introduction, writing your own introduction for the event organizer is something I would not have thought of. The point being, do not let an opportunity slip by you because the event organizer gave a terrible introduction of you and did not allow you to establish your creditability.
    Also, like anything getting to places with enough time before the actual speech or event is very important. One needs to establish that they can be trusted and getting there with enough time is a great way to start off. It is like anything these days, job interview, showing up to class, and more, one needs to establish the fact they will be trustworthy and willing to show up on time.
    Especially, interesting was the tip about involving your audience. If you are able to relate your idea back to them or relate it back to a time in your life, then you will be able establish your creditability to the audience. I definitely feel more connected to the speaker if he or she is able to relate how they are just like me.
    Overall, these tips by Andrew Dlugman are very helpful and ideas that we can all use to effectively establish ourselves as trustworthy people while we are giving a speech.

    Kyle Brown

  2. kws221 on

    I think that this is a helpful blog post and I especially the topic that Gianna brings up about whether or not to write your own introduction. I have been to a lot of presentations and guest speakers throughout my Denison tenure, and more often than not the guest speaker is introduced by the teacher or the organizer of the event. I believe that these brief introductions by someone else is helpful because it takes off a lot of the pressure for the speaker to have to talk about his or herself, and allows the speaker to immediately introduce the subject matter rather than have to sound pompous by establishing ethos. Further, I think that it gives the audience a good overview of the speaker that they might not otherwise get.

    • kws221 on

      Above comment written by Kevin Schneider

  3. sritch15 on

    Thank you for this, it was nice to have a short, concise list of a few things that we can do in order to make a presentation more effective. Although it seems like common sense to me to show up early to a presentation, I had never thought of it in this way. It does make sense, though that showing up early shows that you are dedicated to the presentation at the time, which makes the audience feel like you care about being there with them. Also, staying after can make a difference. I remember going to some panel discussions on college visits, and I always though it was nice for the panel members to stay after for further discussion or questions. To me, it showed that they cared about me and wanted to help.

    -Sarah Ritchey

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