9th of January, 2007
Joshua Bell, one of the greatest violinist in the world,
played to a packed audience
at Boston’s stately Symphony Hall of 1,000 people
where most seats went for more than $100.
He was used to full, sell-out shows.
He was at the peak of his abilities and fame.
Three days later,
Joshua Bell played to an audience of
Well, maybe six people paused for a moment,
and one child stopped for a while looking,
as if he understood that something special was happening.
Joshua said of the experience,
“It was a strange feeling that people were actually ignoring me.”
Joshua Bell was playing violin in a subway station.
“At a music hall, I’ll get upset if someone coughs
or if someone’s cell phone goes off,
but here my expectations quickly diminished.
I was oddly grateful when somebody threw in a dollar.”
on the same violin,
played with the same passion
and by the same man.
Why did people listen and then not listen?
Aristotle would be able to explain.
What does it take to persuade people?
2,300 years ago,
Aristotle wrote the single most important work on persuasion,
the 3 means of persuasion:
Logos is that the idea makes sense from the audience’s point of view.
This is usually different from the speaker’s point of view,
so work needs to be done
to make the idea relevant to the world view,
the pains and the challenges of the listeners.
A good argument is like good music.
Good music follows some rules of composition;
good arguments follow some rules of logic.
It makes sense to the audience.
Ethos is reputation, what are you known for;
credibility, do you look and act professional;
trustworthy, are your motives clear,
do you show the listener that you care about them as much as yourself?
Authority is confidence plus a concise message,
a clear, strong voice.
Pathos is the emotional connection.
Stories are an effective human tool for creating an emotional connection.
There are moments where an audience is not ready
to hear the message.
A speaker must create the right emotional environment for their message.
Why did people travel for miles to hear him play one night,
and not even pause for moment to listen the next morning?
The answer is that ethos and pathos were missing.
The fact that the great concert hall hosts Joshua’s concert
transfers its trust to Joshua.
We trust the institution, we now trust Joshua.
The subway does not have our trust for musical talent,
we do not expect to find great art,
or great ideas,
so it confers no trust to Joshua.
The concert hall is designed for an emotional bond
between an audience and an artist,
a subway platform is not.
The hustle and movement and stress is just not conducive
to the emotional connection needed between performer and listener.
the idea is nothing without the rest.
This is what Joshua Bell learned
on that cold, January day in 2007.
If you have a great idea,
how do you build credibility and emotional connection?