3 Tips to Help You Create a More Persuasive Speech
I recently gave a persuasive speech to an audience of 1500 people. The audience contained children as young as 7 years old, all the way up to pensioners in their 60s. What could I do to keep everyone following along, entertained and ready to take action at the end?
It was a chilly British (summer’s) morning in a huge marquee and everyone had already been seated for a good hour or so before I took to the stage. Here are a few suggestions regarding how to keep people nodding in agreement and interest, rather than nodding off to sleep.
Start by grabbing their attention and then set the scene for the rest of your talk.
Can your provide your audience with some shocking statistics? Maybe you have some surprising facts to share? In my case I sang a couple of lines of a popular song and then went straight into describing a daydream I’d had as a child. This was swiftly followed up by asking them about their own daydreams. By linking my dreams to theirs, they then had more of an interest in hearing what I had to say. After all, we were all fellow daydreamers, right?! We now had a common bond. The key to persuasion is to meet your audience where they are, before taking them on the journey towards change.
Refer to a gap in your audience’s knowledge that your talk will fill.
Tell them what’s in it for them if they go the full distance with you during your talk. People are always questioning what they’re going to get from you…why should they listen? Signpost where you’re going by saying: “Today I’m going to give you 4 tips that will help you to achieve more in life”. By telling the audience where you’re going they’re more likely to listen out for each of your 4 tips and will also have their ears cocked to see if, indeed, those 4 tips will help them achieve more. They’re wondering if you’ll keep your promise as a speaker, and will thank you if you do.
Be the guide rather than the hero.
No-one enjoys listening to a speaker with an “it’s all about me” attitude. Even if your talk is full of stories about the amazing things you’ve achieved, make sure it’s full of inclusive language – “you” and “we” rather than “I”. Adopt the role of mentor and let the audience by your protege. People are more likely to be persuaded if you come across as humble and grateful to have the opportunity to share a bit about what you know. Also, switch in and out of your personal stories to make sure you “land” the learning. If the audience don’t get the point of your stories then there’s no point in telling them. And try to share your failures as well as your successes. In the case of my talk, I warned the audience that I’d learned the 3 tips “the hard way”, which in turn created more anticipation. After all, we tend to learn more from our mistakes and everyone enjoys a story about overcoming adversity.
Apply these three tips to your next speech and hopefully they’ll help you inspire and persuade your audience quickly and easily.