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How to Persuade People Every Time You Speak

How to Persuade People Every Time You Speak

How good are you at persuasion? Here's how to persuade people every time you speak—in pitches, sales, negotiations, and in every type of presentation. 

Do you know how to be persuasive?

We'd all like to be. The truth is, however, that few people attain a high level of influence. Partly, that's because most approaches to an issue are like all the other approaches to that issue. They show little creativity or boldness. So, they fail where the crucial requirement of influencing listeners is concerned.

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How to Persuade People Every Time You Speak

How to Be More Persuasive When You Speak

If you'd like a handle on being more persuasive and creating true impact, below are four approaches to employ. They work for sales talks, investor pitches, negotiations, advocacy, and basically whenever you need to persuade. They will help you establish rapport and reach listeners in an actionable way, even in the face of resistance.

They do this by helping you stay S.A.N.E.  That acronym stands for Shape, Agreement, New Approaches, and Emotions. Together, they keep you more concerned with strategy than performance, which matters greatly when it comes to changing people's minds.

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Shape the issue.

You give yourself a tremendous advantage as a speaker when you frame your message in ways that work to your advantage. In fact, it’s difficult to overcome skepticism and resistance unless you do so.
As an example, think of a management-labor dispute. In these situations, union leaders will most likely present the issue as either a) a “fair shake” for the working man and woman, or b) a case of Big Business vs. the little guy. Often they use both arguments.
Management, on the other hand, often comes to the fairness argument from another direction, asking: “Are the union’s demands fair compared to what ordinary Americans are getting in terms of wages and benefits?” Or they may frame the situation in even starker terms, warning that the company won’t survive if the union’s demands are met. Both sides in a labor-management dispute thus consciously shape the issue to their own advantage.
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Areas of agreement.

When it comes to a resistant audience, your influence depends on whether you can establish common ground with them. And the earlier you do so, the better. 
This is especially important if you know (or expect) your audience to be biased against your ideas. If you just blurt out the point you know will be resisted, well, the audience will resist you! Talk first about how you share a common goal in this area, or have the best interests of a certain group at heart. Then begin to build your argument, brick by brick. 

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Once listeners understand that you and they are working toward a common goal, they’ll be much more likely to view you as a person of integrity. They will probably also find it harder to resist in toto an argument they've seen assembled right there in front of them. Be the open-minded and humane speaker who only asks to be listened to fairly—and mean it. What person who views themselves as fair-minded can resist that request? 

New approaches.

People who resist your point of view often think they’ve already heard all the arguments on your side. So surprise them. Give them something they haven’t heard before. It needn’t be a radical departure from past approaches (though it might be). Employ stories and metaphors to make your case. And use comparisons everyone can understand. 

An example: A group of salespeople I trained recently was amazed to hear that silence is as important as anything they say. They related to the concept immediately when I told them that a prospect needs a second or two to grasp an important selling point. To illustrate, I mentioned the Zen technique of looking at the space between objects instead of at the objects themselves. It was an unexpected but I hope apt comparison.

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You hold the beliefs you do because you think they are the right beliefs, the ones that correspond to your values. And that involves a strong emotional component. If you want to change other people’s convictions or behavior, you won’t do it only with statistics and pie charts. You need to talk about your issue in ways that touch people’s lives. And that includes using emotional language. 

For instance, don’t be afraid to reveal how you yourself have wrestled with the issue you're discussing. By doing so, you’ll be giving listeners permission to do the same. And if you argue well beyond that point, there's a good chance they will come out on your side of the question.

Key takeaways from this blog:

  • Most approaches toward difficult issues are like all the others in that industry. Be different!
  • To persuade people, frame your message in a way that works to your advantage.
  • Establish common ground with your listeners as soon as possible.
  • To truly speak with influence and impact, use emotional language.

This blog was originally published in 2016. It is updated here.

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Gary Genard is an actor, author, and expert in public speaking and overcoming speaking fear. His company, The Genard Method offers live 1:1 Zoom executive coaching  and corporate group training worldwide. In 2022 for the ninth consecutive year, Gary has been ranked by Global Gurus as One of the World’s Top 30 Communication Professionals. He is the author of the Amazon Best-Seller How to Give a Speech. His second book, Fearless Speakingwas named in 2019 as "One of the 100 Best Confidence Books of All Time." His handbook for presenting in video conferences, Speaking Virtually offers strategies and tools for developing virtual presence in online meetings. His latest book is Speak for Leadership: An Executive Speech Coach's Secrets for Developing Leadership PresenceContact Gary here.   


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