Knowing how to use persuasive speaking techniques is key when you have a point of view that you want to get across, or a need that you want to convey. Whether you’re trying to sell something, convince someone that your point of view is right, or get someone to take some action, being persuasive is much more effective than being punitive or threatening.
While persuasion may feel like manipulation at times, it’s an important way of getting your view across to others so that it will be accepted. Persuasion does not come easily to everyone, but persuasive speaking techniques can be learned and practiced so that you can communicate more effectively. Speech expert Dr. Gary Genard has written books about communication topics and has a weekly blog about a wide range of speaking topics, and puts a special focus on persuasive speaking.
Genard explains that being persuasive means using emotions because emotions are persuasive. He reminds his followers that listeners want to be influenced and most will not be resistant, but that emotional language helps you speak to their hearts. And emotion captivates, intrigues, and makes your speaking memorable.
Use Emotional Language
Genard explains that every speech is persuasive in some way, but not every speech evokes feelings, emotions, and memorable sentiment. He advises speakers to ditch merely descriptive language and use more exciting and memorable emotional language. He gives the example of the emotions and visualizations that the words mother and female parent create. One invokes the image of a caring, loving woman. The other calls up a clinical image devoid of nurturing connotations.
Using emotional language changes the dynamics of a speech from average or even excellent to the next level – memorable. Genard says rather than explain, use emotional language to suggest associations, evoke images, and create rich resonating feelings. He says speakers can even invent phrases from emotional language to make a strong impact that wins hearts and persuades listeners.
Making your speech come to life with emotional power makes audiences respond positively, which is exactly the objective of persuasive speaking.
Related Article: Understanding Emotional Mastery and How it Benefits Your Life
Get Their Attention
Do people stop listening when you talk, or are they riveted by your speech? If you find it difficult to gain and hold your audience’s attention, you need to evaluate how you are speaking and presenting your ideas. Genard explains that being prepared with information for what you will talk about is important, but one of the more important persuasive speaking techniques is preparing how you will talk.
Know your audience is one of the first rules of speaking, for good reason. If you have information to convey, simply telling it to listeners is no guarantee they will listen or pay attention to it. That requires creating a relationship with the audience and helping them understand and accept the information you have, and usually convincing them to take some action, as in sales.
Genard says focusing on your audience rather than your information is the key to getting and keeping their attention, and persuading them to the desired action. To do that, he says consider what your audience needs and expects, consider how to talk to them to make strong connections, and know what the objective of your speech is to make sure it links to some benefit to the listeners. Then look into your audience, not at the information you are presenting. Use the information to inform, but focus your communication and attention on your listeners.
Use nonverbal communication such as positive body language and gestures, and warm and emotion-evoking verbal tones of voice. Genard uses examples of how you want to convey yourself through your voice as warmth versus coldness, confidence versus fear, passionate versus aloof or bored. Think about how your voice sounds when talking about things that connect with your listeners and use the right tone of voice and attitude to engage them.
Speak with Clarity
You may think you are speaking clearly and openly, but Genard says a bad habit is rattling off content at the audience instead of performing in a way that brings it to life and captures the hearts of your listeners. Avoid this two ways and stop talking at your audience and start connecting with them to foster understanding and acceptance. Together, the following two techniques help you speak with clarity.
The first way that Genard teaches speakers to stop talking at audiences is by changing the intention of the speech. You may have a lot of information to go over in the form of charts and spreadsheets and formulas. It may even be pretty technical. But instead of thinking of your speech as delivering information, think of it as helping your audience to understand the information you have. Discuss it in terms your audience relates to it so it’s perceived and received favorably and memorably.
The second way that Genard teaches speakers to not talk at audiences but to truly talk to them is by controlling their breathing. Get in the habit of using consciously slower, deeper breathing before and during your talk to calm yourself and help you go through your material in a more deliberate and focused way. This enables you to give a more controlled presentation and help your audience better absorb and accept your information.
Adapt Theater-Based Techniques
Speaking is a performance, and Genard says that means you need to know how to perform to engage and entertain your audience, big or small. Effective performance draws on all your avenues of expression, including voice, body language, and storytelling. Think about what stage presence you will use to get your information out there.
Using diaphragmatic breathing and focus while speaking enables you to project well to your whole audience for connection and be responsive. They are techniques that help you relax and feel more confident and project a more powerful persona to the audience. Using storytelling brings information to life while sharing more of yourself with listeners. It engages and entertains and helps them like you and anchors the information with emotion.
Language with drama and flair gets audience attention, creates emotion, and enlivens dry information with the power of passion. Don’t let your information fall flat with boring words when you can speak in a lively manner with colorful words and phrases that make your speech memorable.
Nothing is more persuasive than someone speaking with confidence. Have you ever watched someone who was unsure of him or herself? How likely were you to keep listening to what they were saying, or believe it? Confidence is an important component of persuasive speaking. Genard says building confidence before speaking can be mastered so you can speak with decisiveness and persuasiveness, not fear and nervousness.
If your heart starts pounding before you even get up to speak, or your mouth goes dry, Genard reminds you that most of a speaker’s nervous afflictions are not noticeable to others. He says to remember that what you are feeling is not as apparent as you think.
He also reminds speakers that looking nervous will not automatically lose the audience’s attention. Believing that your audience is nice and will give you a break for being human and being nervous helps your fear level. Genard reminds people to think of how they feel when they see a nervous speaker – it’s usually sympathy and empathy, but not a discounting of the speaker or the message.
Just Talk to People
Dr. Genard says many speakers get bogged down in writing a speech when what they really need to do is just talk to people. They think of their speech in the wrong way, as a literary document instead of as content to present and lead a discussion. Think about the information you want to convey and then think of it in terms of talking to people about it, not as writing and memorizing the perfect words to use.
Think of speaking to your listeners in terms of oral rather than literary so your work comes out as a talk rather than an essay. Genard says that when speakers think of their speech as less of a written piece and more of an easy communication with listeners, with honest emotion, the better their message will be given and received.