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"Be a voice not an echo." - Albert Einstein

Need To Persuade? — Here's How It's Done

Need To Persuade? Here's How It's Done

Do you need to persuade prospects, customers, or clients? How about your own employees? When it comes to speaking persuasively, here's how it's done.


Here's a fact you may not have considered about public speaking: all of it is persuasive speaking.

Speeches are typically grouped into three types: informative, persuasive, and entertaining. But the truth is, when you're presenting, you're always trying to persuade people. If it's not out-and-out trying to get people to think one way or take a particular action, it's convincing them that the information you're providing is worth listening to. Or that your particular take on things is funny.

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And let's not forget emotions. Professional presentations often avoid emotion because it's considered inappropriate. But every decision human beings make has an emotional component (it's been proven through neuroscience). Just look at any commercial or ad if you don't believe me. The fact is, tapping into the emotions of listeners is important to making what you say memorable and actionable and knowing how to use performance to speak as a leader

Stephen Lucas, in his book The Art of Public Speaking, discusses four specific types of persuasive speaking (in the traditional sense of the term). I’ve adapted that idea into what I call the C.U.R.E. Method of Persuasion. You can think of it as a way to “cure” an audience’s obliviousness or resistance to the message you think they need to hear. (Here are 5 Ways to Captivate An Audience to make that happen!)

C.U.R.E. stands for the following four variables:

1. Credibility. You must establish your credibility early if you want listeners to accept that you’re worth listening to and believing. “Perceived credibility,” in which you’re recognized beforehand as an expert, can help enormously. But you still need to look for ways early in your speech to reference your expertise, experience, or sheer joy concerning speaking on this topic.

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2. Using Evidence. Your opinion may be of the best pedigree. But as far as your audience is concerned, it’s still just your opinion. What evidence can you show to back it up? Statistics, reports, testimony, expert opinion, stories, personal anecdotes, visuals—and anything else you think is relevant—is what you need to bring into play. (Knowing my 5 Rules for Succeeding With PowerPoint is especially important in this regard.)

Pay particular attention to what this audience would find convincing, for audiences always differ from one another in obvious or subtle ways. Make your assertion, back it up with evidence then tell listeners the point you’re trying to make. Don’t assume they’ll get it on their own.

3. Reasoning: Audiences accept arguments that they find logical and well reasoned. Your speech or presentation therefore needs a logical framework, so listeners can understand how you reached your conclusion. (Be sure to check out my 7 Key Components of Successful Presentations to learn how to lead an audience where you want them to go!)

If your reasoning is sound, your audience will be with you every step of the way. Even more important, they’ll arrive at your culminating persuasive point at the same time you do. Wonderful! And by all means, take the time to familiarize yourself with fallacies, or errors in reasoning. Advertising and politics are the ideal places to understand how a fallacy plays with and twists the truth. Avoid this easy but dishonorable path to persuasion.

4. Emotion: As I stated above, emotion is a critical component of persuasion. Too often people shy away from emotion in public speaking, for no good reason. Just because something represents “serious business,” doesn’t mean it should be talked about in dry, robotic (and non-human) ways. You should use ethical emotional arguments to convince listeners. Otherwise, you’re leaving the human condition out of the equation. Incidentally, researchers into brain injury have found that even totally logical decisions can’t take place in the absence of emotions!

How can you understand and employ emotions in your persuasive speaking? First, understand the mood or emotional climate in which your speech is taking place. There may be reasons, for instance, why this audience—the same one you’ve spoken to a dozen times in the past—may be experiencing a strong emotional reaction on this occasion or at this particular time.

Second, incorporate emotional language into your talk. People make decisions emotionally then justify those decisions rationally—and the more life-changing the decision to be made, the more this is true. So tap into your audience’s instinctual reaction, the in-the-gut response. Often, that’s the more fertile ground for seeding the argument that results in persuasion.

Finally, where emotion-based persuasion is concerned, remember that you are there to legitimately persuade rather than to manipulate. Keep that in mind, and your persuasive speaking will be both ethical and effective.

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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. He was named for nine consecutive years as One of the World’s Top 30 Communication Professionals, and also named as One of America's Top 5 Speech CoachesHe 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 videoconferences, 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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