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WHAT MAKES A PERSUASIVE SPEECH?


Since you have come to this page, you probably realize that persuading people to respond in a particular way is the primary point of any speech.

While this may be obvious for talks such as motivational speeches, fundraisers, or sales presentations, it may be less obvious for project reports, budget presentations or technical reports. Yet, even for these seemingly more objective presentations, the presenter is still seeking acceptance of his or her credibility, skill, or, simply time spent.

We speak to influence our listeners

What techniques help us achieve this objective?

Fortunately, you have a huge range of persuasive approaches. Take a look below.

Structural Techniques:

Formats or Outlines

Set yourself above the ordinary. Choose an outline which 'sells' your premise or your product. Try telling a story, debate the pros and cons with yourself, do a series of affirmations. Be aware of what your audience will best relate to.

Lead them with logic.

Develop your point step-by-step. Material can be organized in a variety of formats, from the traditional 1., 2., 3., approach to a time line, to a series of causes and effects. What is important is to regularly, and, blatantly, let the audience know where you are, and, where you are going.

Credibility Elements:

Authorities

Quoting recognized authorities in your topic area verifies that you have both done your homework, and, also, know what you are talking about.

Document your factual information and references.

Never leave an audience member questioning where you got your facts...which means he or she is questioning the fact itself.

Experience

When you speak, you need to be regarded as an authority. Your experience is one of the primary things that give you standing in the eyes of your listeners. Make certain it is listed in the introduction bio, but, also, subtly, repeat it in the presentation through such phrases as, "in my 15 year's of working in this field", or, " each of the dozen times we have run this project". Statements like these add more blocks to your foundation of credibility.

Mandate

For presentation listeners, this is an unspoken, but, vital part of your credibility. The question in their head is, "Who, after all, are you to be giving this particular presentation?"

You should address this in the opening of your speech. The mandate, itself, can come from a wide range of possibilities: you did the project you are reporting on (or, you oversaw it), you have related experience, you were invited by a respected person in their group, you have researched the topic at the boss' request, you are the chief poobah and don't have to explain yourself. Whatever it is, spell it out at the beginning. It could be as simple as, 'at the last meeting, you asked me to check out ....."

Specificity

Which has more impact for you:
"The world is going to end.", or,
"The earth will be hit by an asteroid next July."?

Are you likely to give money to "poor children overseas", or, to "four year old Emmia, who digs in the garbage seeking for food". Listeners need concrete items to relate to. When someone tells you to 'paint a picture' for them, that is what they mean.

Openings and Closings:

Openings

Tell them why they should listen.. Why you for this audience at this time on this subject.

Closings

Close: don't just quit.
Work the group to a conclusion and then ask them for some response, eg. "Now you know the problem, can we count on you to help with the project?"

Words, Phrases and Sentences:

The basic rule of thumb for this very extensive topic is to keep your language concrete, descriptive and clear. Sticking to the active voice (yeh, it's that grammar thing!) is also significant. Essentially, what all that means is that you should say, " we found a problem" rather than "it was brought to our attention that there was a problem".

Inclusiveness

Refer to our team, working with them, all of us, together, , etc.

Win with words.

Surveys show that people respond well to particular words such as "improved", "natural", "pure", "tested' and "recommended". Any word which expresses credibility ranks high with consumers and with audiences. Be sure to edit your material to include several.

Sentences that convince rather than confuse

Mood Swings:

Match every facet of your presentation to the mood. A presenter's credibility is suspect when he or she talks about a tragic situation while grinning broadly. The audience is also totally confused when we speak of undertaking a project with enthusiasm and vigor while we are drooping across the stage.

Choreography:

Another broad topic. To get your audience members to react to your text, you will need a variety of dynamics, some physical, some psychological. Move around, raise and lower your voice, use pace and pause, involve the audience, use hand gestures, use props.

The number of tools and techniques and tools for persuasive speeches is boundless. In this article, we have only been able to give you the very basics. To learn more check out speechgems.com.


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