The Kairos Definition

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The Kairos Definition

Understanding the Kairos Rhetoric & Meaning

Want to make more persuasive videos? Whether you’re producing a commercial, launching a campaign, or developing content strategy, you need to know how to win over your audience. How? It all comes down to timing.

One of today’s most relevant “advanced techniques” is the concept of kairos, or acting at the opportune moment. In this post, we’ll give you a kairos definition, useful kairos examples, and a firm grasp of lofty concepts. Get ready to hone your timing to make stronger advertising videos.

1. Understanding kairos rhetoric

Grab your audience in the right way, at the right time. Kairos is all about adapting your strategy and timing your approach, often by orchestrating an opportunity to make your point.
We’ll define kairos in a moment. First, let’s look at an overview of Aristotle’s rhetorical triangle.
Consider the full triangle when creating content of any kind. You'll make more compelling TV commercials, digital content, and videos if you get these down pat.
These techniques also go by other terms: rhetorical appeals, persuasive strategies, and modes of persuasion.

A compelling argument, pitch, or advertisement ideally uses elements of all three main strategies. You'll also want to involve the “hidden” strategies of kairos and telos.
Ethos is used to convince an audience by offering reliability, honesty, and credibility. In practical terms, this usually means an authority figure or celebrity endorsing a product or brand.
An ethos-filled strategy would include famous people or experts in their field. These people would persuade the audience based on authority or superior social status.
Pathos aims to convince viewers by evoking an emotional response. The response can be positive, such the joy you would feel if you bought, say, a snazzy new pair of pants. It can be a negative, as in, “Ouch, my knee, I need a pill to feel better.” And how about guilt? “Adopt this fluffy kitty before it’s put to sleep.”
A pathos-filled strategy would elicit pity, energy, or even make a viewer choke up. It appeals to compassion and feeling.
Logos appeals to logic and reason by using statistics, facts, and figures. Aristotle considered this an appeal to the rational mind.
A logos-filled strategy would contain data, charts, graphs, and an almost academic or scientific level of logic and reason.

Now that you’ve got an overview, we’ll open the vault to explore kairos. We’ll specifically look at kairos examples in digital media, commercials, and advertising.
In Aristotle’s era, ancient Greeks used the word “chronos” to refer to chronological time (e.g., a timestamp or the march of time).
In contrast, the word “kairos” signifies the proper or optimal moment to take action. To strike while the iron is hot.
Check out the kairos rhetoric definition below.

What is kairos?

Kairos comes from the Greek for “right time,” “opportunity,” or “season.” Kairos rhetoric considers the timeliness of an argument or message, and its place in the zeitgeist. Modern Greek also defines kairos as “weather.” A kairos appeal depends a great deal on knowing which way the wind blows.
For example, a commercial starring Justin Bieber in 2010 might be more effective than a commercial starring Justin Bieber in 2019. Also, a Pampers ad starring John Legend, Chrissy Teigen, and Adam Levine might make more sense for the brand than, say, a Pampers ad starring Woody Allen.

Now that the kairos definition is lodged in your skull, we’ll refine practical kairos meaning in the next section.

After all, the best way to answer the question, “What is kairos?” is by sharing effective, modern kairos examples.

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