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Communicator of the Week: Carey Mulligan for her article in The Times on dementia

13th December 2017


As communicators we need to persuade and help others persuade every day of our working lives. Luckily a handy three step checklist was developed nearly 2500 years ago by Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle. 

Aristotle wrote hundreds of books during his life on topics as diverse as science and poetry but it was his work describing rhetoric that interests us this week. 

Aristotle described three ways that a speaker (which was the primary purpose for studying the art of rhetoric through to the 18th century in much of Europe) moved people to take action.   

In simplified form these three ways were Logos, persuasion through logic, data and statistics; Ethos, persuasion through achievements and experience; Pathos, an appeal to people’s emotions. In a general sense if you are preparing to communicate with the aim of persuading and get a blend of these in your content then you can’t go far wrong.

Which brings me to this week’s winner. Carey Mulligan is a British actress who has won global fame and recognition. She has also been a campaigner to raise awareness, and find a cure for, Dementia. This week she wrote an article for The Times which really struck a chord with me as someone who lost a grandfather to the disease. Ignoring my own personal connection this article was a case study in how to use the three persuasive appeals described by Aristotle.  

Her experience as an ambassador but also as a granddaughter watching her grandmother battle the disease provided the ethos. Logos was provided by her simple explanation of what dementia actually is:

"dementia is not a natural part of ageing. Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies: these are all diseases of the brain. The common misconception that the symptoms people with dementia display, such as memory loss and confusion, are just an unfortunate consequence of old age is extremely damaging. It creates stigma, it isolates and marginalises people with the condition and their families and, perhaps more importantly than anything, it slows us down in our search for a cure.”

That is quite a paragraph and will surely have made more than a few people sit up and take notice. Finally, as you’d expect of someone writing about the decline and death of a much loved grandmother, the article was filled with examples of pathos perhaps most notably:

"I remember her smile when I would sing a song in Welsh that she had taught me as a child. I remember the look of utter contentment when my mother kissed her and held her face to greet her." 

Last month Bill Gates boosted the fight against this horrible disease by pledging $100million to aid research. Carey Mulligan was writing to persuade Times readers to pledge money as part the paper’s Christmas appeal to support this cause further still. It persuaded me and I imagine many, many others. 

As well as being a brilliant Alzheimer’s Society ambassador and global Dementia Friends ambassador, for knowing her Aristotle and using it to motivate people to take action I make Carey Mulligan Communicator of the Week. 

As communicators we need to persuade and help others persuade every day of our working lives. Luckily a handy three step checklist was developed nearly 2500 years ago by Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle. 

Aristotle wrote hundreds of books during his life on topics as diverse as science and poetry but it was his work describing rhetoric that interests us this week. 

Aristotle described three ways that a speaker (which was the primary purpose for studying the art of rhetoric through to the 18th century in much of Europe) moved people to take action.   

In simplified form these three ways were Logos, persuasion through logic, data and statistics; Ethos, persuasion through achievements and experience; Pathos, an appeal to people’s emotions. In a general sense if you are preparing to communicate with the aim of persuading and get a blend of these in your content then you can’t go far wrong.

Which brings me to this week’s winner. Carey Mulligan is a British actress who has won global fame and recognition. She has also been a campaigner to raise awareness, and find a cure for, Dementia. This week she wrote an article for The Times which really struck a chord with me as someone who lost a grandfather to the disease. Ignoring my own personal connection this article was a case study in how to use the three persuasive appeals described by Aristotle.  

Her experience as an ambassador but also as a granddaughter watching her grandmother battle the disease provided the ethos. Logos was provided by her simple explanation of what dementia actually is:

"dementia is not a natural part of ageing. Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies: these are all diseases of the brain. The common misconception that the symptoms people with dementia display, such as memory loss and confusion, are just an unfortunate consequence of old age is extremely damaging. It creates stigma, it isolates and marginalises people with the condition and their families and, perhaps more importantly than anything, it slows us down in our search for a cure.”

That is quite a paragraph and will surely have made more than a few people sit up and take notice. Finally, as you’d expect of someone writing about the decline and death of a much loved grandmother, the article was filled with examples of pathos perhaps most notably:

"I remember her smile when I would sing a song in Welsh that she had taught me as a child. I remember the look of utter contentment when my mother kissed her and held her face to greet her." 

Last month Bill Gates boosted the fight against this horrible disease by pledging $100million to aid research. Carey Mulligan was writing to persuade Times readers to pledge money as part the paper’s Christmas appeal to support this cause further still. It persuaded me and I imagine many, many others. 

As well as being a brilliant Alzheimer’s Society ambassador and global Dementia Friends ambassador, for knowing her Aristotle and using it to motivate people to take action I make Carey Mulligan Communicator of the Week. 

Communicator of the Week is written by Edward Staite.



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