Earnings calls are a key form of voluntary financial reporting through which companies seek to proactively engage investors. Although now quite routine, little is known about their rhetorical dimension. Inspired by Aristotlean classical rhetoric, this paper offers an exploratory analysis of the language of a small sample of earnings calls to identify expressions of logos (reason), ethos (credibility) and pathos (emotion). Text analysis software was used to generate descriptive data for follow-up qualitative analysis to interpret strategic usage. Results indicate a strong presence of persuasive language that is skillfully juxtaposed by company executives with financial information to emphasize success and instill confidence. The findings can be applied towards developing state-of-the-art courses for students of financial communication and towards enhancing the effectiveness of financial reporting.
Keywords: Financial reporting, classical rhetoric, earnings calls, corpus linguistics.