Ten tips to master the art of persuasion

Christina Hession LRWhen is the last time you had to persuade someone in a business situation? Perhaps you want to increase you sales, or maybe convince your team to adopt new processes, or maybe you’re hoping to persuade existing shareholders to re-invest. Whatever the situation, you will need to master the art of persuasion.

According to Christina Hession of Toastmasters International you should start by asking yourself why should an audience listen to your presentation and, most importantly, what do you want them to do as a result of listening to you? Structure your presentation on points of relevance and concern for your audience to ensure maximum success.

Here are Christina’s ten tips to help you persuade audiences to support your views:

(1)  Purpose: Be very clear about the purpose of your presentation. Do you want to inform, motivate, entertain or inspire? What do you want the audience to think or do as a result of your talk? If you don’t know – then don’t blame the audience for looking confused.

(2)  Sincerity: Be authentic. Do you engage your audience with passion and conviction about a subject which interests them? Can you believably sell its benefits?

(3)  Authority:  Be sure to inform your audience of your speciality and qualifications in a brief introduction before your presentation.

(4)  Logic: An essential component of effective persuasion. This can be, for example, a) linear reasoning – set out a number of individual aspects of the particular problem, before linking them to their causes and solutions, or b) fact-based thinking – include relevant statistics and cite credible sources for your assertions.

(5)  Speak to the heart: Make a point, then tell a story. Audiences love personal stories and anecdotes, because they engage our emotions.

(6)  ‘You Focussed’: Make your presentation ‘you focussed’ in other words focussed on your audience. Using the word ‘you’ instead of ‘I’ or ‘me’, makes your presentation more personal and conversational.

(7)  Humour: Humour is a very effective device in engaging and connecting with an audience. It will serve to lighten the tone, but a word of caution here; humour should not be bawdy, politically incorrect or poke fun at audience members.

(8)  Empathy: Get your presentation off to a flying start by researching your audience. Who are they? What are their needs and expectations? Take some time to mingle with your audience members. If possible, ensure the seating is arranged to facilitate maximum participation.

(9)  Delivery: Smile. A smile is like your personal handshake with the audience. Speak firmly at a measured rate and vary the pitch, and establish direct eye contact – all of this will help to engage and persuade the audience.

(10)  Confidence: Your presentation begins from the minute you leave your seat to walk to the podium. Walking with your head up and back straight will convey to the audience that you are a speaker who is confident with your subject matter. A confident speaker is a persuasive speaker.

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