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That quality or property of anything which touches the feelings or excites emotions and passions, esp., that which awakens tender emotions, such as pity, sorrow, and the like; contagious warmth of feeling, action, or expression; pathetic quality.
A speaker gives a persuasive speech to convince the audience to take on his/her position regarding a certain topic. A persuasive speech might contain a call to action, whereby the speaker attempts to persuade members of the audience to perform a certain action, or to convince the audience to adopt a specific point of view on a certain topic.
Persuasive speeches commonly contain lots of pathos. Pathos is an appeal to the emotions of the audience. Political speeches are examples of persuasive speeches heavy with pathos. By appealing to emotions through references to "freedom" or "patriotism," politicians seek to gain the audience's vote.
In order for the pathos contained in a persuasive speech to be effective, the speaker has to understand the audience he/she is addressing.To be convincing, the speaker has to take into account the behavioral motivations and foundational beliefs of the audience.
Empathize with the audience to demonstrate that you are like them - that you understand how they feel and what they think. Drawing parallels between yourself and the audience reduces the distance between you and them, making your speech that much more persuasive.
In addition to pathos, persuasive speeches contain appeals to ethos and logos. An appeal to ethos is used to show the character of the speaker and make him/her more credible. For the audience to be persuaded, they have to feel that the speaker is a credible and worth listening to. An appeal to logos requires referencing evidence. This demonstrates the extent to which the speaker is knowledgeable about the topic he/she is speaking about, making their speech more persuasive than if he/she appeared ill-informed on the topic.
William Jennings Bryan giving a campaign speech in 1908
Political speeches aim is to persuade the audience to vote for the speaker.