The real secrets to being a more persuasive speaker
Every speech you do is a persuasive speech. Whatever the type of speaking you're doing, entertaining, informative, sales presentations, training lectures and workshops - your aim is normally to influence the audience in some way.
No doubt you personally have some particluar types of talks in mind. Maybe they are ones that you have to give on a regular basis like addressing your staff, or doing sales presentations. Or maybe it's a one-off like a Best Man speech or a major pitch to a Venture Capitalist.
In my case for the past 10 years it's mainly been public sales seminars, training workshops and various educational, inspirational and motivational talks. The thing that sharpened the mind a fair bit was the fact that if I didn't persuade, I didn't eat! My income depended pretty much entirely on my ability to get my point across and get people to take some sort of action.
You'll be pleased to know I didn't starve.
This is undoubtedly one of the aspects of speaking that people fear the most. Will I be persuasive? What will they think of me if I come across too pushy? What if I lose the argument? What if I don't do a good enough job and we don't get the money/job/contract etc.
I've read a ton of books about sales and influence and I've had some pretty good training over the years as well, but I've never found anything better than the 2000 year old stuff. As a set of guiding principles and really practical techniques you simply can't go past the work done by Aristotle, Cicero, Quintillian and their a few others who defined Rhetoric - the art of speaking persuasively.
How To Give A Persuasive Speech
Here's a practical way to apply the ancient principles to the modern world of persuasive speech.
- First Think About The Environment.
- Kairos - Take into account the time and place in which you are speaking. What opportunities and constraints do they create for being more persuasive? eg Hitler was persuasive because of the economic conditions in Germany at the time.
- Audience - Understand them as well as you can. What do they value, believe, identify with?
- Decorum - Make sure you use an appropriate style for your subject.
- Now Use Cicero's 5 Canons To Blow Them Away
What will you say?
Organise your speech. Use Ethos, Logos and Pathos in that order - they work best that way.
- Introduction. Ethos. Get them to like you and make them identify with you.
- Narration. Logos. State the facts. Tell the story vividly.
- Division. Logos. Address both sides of the argument.
- Proof. Logos. Argue your case. "We need to do this because of that".
- Refutation. Logos. Overcome the opposing arguments.
- Conclusion. Pathos. Go over your best points and stir the emotions. Paint a picture of life with and without your solution.
The artful expression of ideas. How will you say it?
- Correct - use language that fits with the subject matter and the occasion
- Clear - don't be ambiguous or obscure
- Vivid - touch the emotions through vivid depictions
- Proper - use words that help you fit in with the audience.
- Ornate - delight with figures of speech.
Decide how you will speak without notes. Tip: Use graphic images on Powerpoint slides as you write your speech to help you remember it, and then deliver your speech without the slides.
Act out your speech by using the right body language.
- Finally arrange for someone to introduce you properly.This is the best way to build up your Ethos (character) which Aristotle considered the most important way to be persuasive.
Here's a good checklist of things to include in your introduction:
- Have them endorse you.
- Showcase your experience and your practical wisdom.
- Emphasize that you have actually done what you wll be talking about
- Describe your willingness to sacrifice your own interests for the greater good
Articles On Persuasive Speech
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