5 Tips to be a More Persuasive Speaker
Do you have great ideas but are not confident in expressing them? Or do you genuinely wish to help a client, but you are not sure how to get through to them?
Whether it is making a pitch to a client, or getting your team to work together, persuasive speaking is definitely an important skill to have in the workplace.
No one was born to be a great speaker, but there are definitely ways that you can improve on your speaking abilities. Here are five tips to be a more persuasive speaker!
1. Establish Credibility
People will be more willing to listen to someone who has credibility. There are three forms of credibility: initial, derived and terminal credibility. Initial credibility is derived before the speech begins, which could come from more superficial indicators such as being in a position of authority. For example, when engaging with a client, it would help if you had some form of credentials to assure them of your professional abilities. If you do not have the credentials, another tip is to land a good first impression, such as dressing and behaving professionally.
Derived credibility is gained during a speech, such as being a charismatic speaker that engages the audience well. This could be achieved through humour or substantiated with statistics. Finally, terminal credibility refers to the credibility after the speech, such as delivering the promised results. Maintaining credibility in all forms can go a long way in your professional pursuits.
2. Use Relatable Examples
Persuasive speaking also seeks to influence the attitudes and behaviours of the audience. Storytelling is a great way to make an impact, especially when these stories are relatable to the audience. For example, in one of the most popular TED Talks, Tim Urban shared about how he procrastinated during his schooling days – a story that many of us could relate to, and a topic that certainly piques the curiosity of the audience to find out how to overcome this perennial problem. He also used the metaphor of a monkey to represent instant gratification, which aptly creates the image of something playful and out of control.
While not everyone is a born storyteller, speaking from personal experience can also help you to convey your message with conviction and emotion. By knowing your audience and picking the right examples for the context, you can enhance your persuasive power and even tug at the heartstrings of your audience!
3. Highlight the Benefits
One way to make your speech more persuasive is to highlight the benefits to your audience. In the TED Talk by Tim Urban, the hint of a solution to overcome the problem of procrastination draws the attention of the audience. Similarly, whether you are preparing a presentation or asking for a favour, emphasising on what the audience stands to gain can make them more open to listening and understanding your ideas.
It does not have to be a laundry list of benefits that may lose the attention of your audience – a concise message can be much more effective. One of the best speeches of all time by Martin Luther King has a clear message repeated throughout the speech, “I have a dream.” Think about what is the most important to your audience and focus on it!
4. Support with Facts
Emotional appeal may work for some, but having concrete facts and figures can cement your point. This could take the form of startling statistics or by citing from another credible source such as a news source or a figure of authority. Even politicians in positions of power, such as Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, incorporate facts to enhance the persuasiveness of their speeches, whether in the form of numbers or perhaps citing a constitution.
Besides having credible data, make sure that your arguments are logical and flow well. Remember to weave your statistics into your speech to support your points, rather than bombarding your audience with numbers which can be confusing!
5. Convey with Passion
Speaking with conviction and energy can also help to keep your audience engaged. Choose words that paint a vivid picture in the minds of your audience. Use emphasis and intonation in your delivery – but remember not to overdo it! Pacing yourself comfortably is also important – speaking too slowly can lose the attention of the audience while speaking too fast may make it difficult to understand. You can also use persuasive speaking techniques such as having a dramatic pause to generate suspense before your punch line.
It definitely takes practice to incorporate these techniques, but it helps a lot if you are passionate about what you are sharing!
Persuasive speaking can be like riding a bicycle – it may be daunting at first, but once you get the hang of it, it will come naturally to you. Your effort will definitely help you to shine. Start practising today!
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