Do people do precisely what you tell them to do when & how you tell them to do it? Does your boss respect you and ask for your opinion? Do people listen attentively to you at meetings? Does your spouse easily agree with you?
In other words, are you a persuasive speaker?
Persuasive people are charming and charismatic.
They magically get people to like them, hire them, and want to be around them.
Take Kate. She’s an amazing marketer. She designed a proposal for a client and she went into the meeting to present her deck she blew it. The prospect wasn’t sold at all.
What went wrong? Well, Kate got nervous and talked too much and too fast. She was in her head thinking about all the details of her plan and she forgot to think only about the benefits for the client.
Result: she couldn’t persuade the prospect to believe in her plan. The way I see it, it’s a lose-lose. If she was able to get the buy-in from the client they would’ve had outstanding products and services at their disposal.
Credibility is a result of persuasion.
How about Tomas? He’s the CTO and reports to the CEO. He wants the CEO to like him and stop micromanaging him. He wants his CEO to trust him but their relationship is rocky.
But this wasn’t happening. Why not? Because Tomas had a difficult time getting to the point. He also gives the CEO way too many details about IT. This is very common. It’s very challenging getting our crystalized idea out of our heads and articulated as words.
We think it shouldn’t be difficult because it sounded so good when you rehearsed it in your head! Why did it come out all wrong. This happens to nearly everyone!
Nearly every word that comes out of our mouths is designed to persuade.
Persuasion isn’t just for selling. We want people to like us-we must persuade people to like us with our warm smiles and funny short stories and our ability to listen.
Kate is now closing deals left and right. All she had to do was learn to be relaxed, formulate her utterances according to the clients’ wants and desires.
Tomas and his boss get along swell now. He’s learned how to persuade his boss to stop micromanaging him. He didn’t say, “Please don’t micromanage me.” He changed the way he communicated during their meetings.
It’s not magic–you just need the techniques.
Think being incredibly persuasive is impossible? It’s not. Being highly influential is possible & more easily doable than you might think.
Unfortunately, much of what people think makes them more persuasive doesn’t work.
Persuasive speaking is the practice of using presentation skills to influence others’ attitudes or behaviors. Powerful, persuasive speech can truly change your audience and the world.
How to be a persuasive speaker in meetings, presentations & in your personal life.
When most people think of persuasive speaking, they think of getting onstage and being ultra convincing. That’s true.
But what I do is teach you to be a persuasive speaker on and off stage. It needs to be at your core. It needs to be a natural part of you.
Persuasive speaking is a powerful tool. Here you’ll learn how to speak to influence and inspire your audience, whether you’re a professional or an amateur.
9 Steps to Being Persuasive
Here’s the list of 9 things that you need to be a persuasive speaker. They’re summarized here but we’ll go over them in detail further along.
- Be relaxed & confident.
- Use an authoritative yet warm tone of voice.
- Maintain a varied intonation.
- Eliminate conjunctions like “and” “if” and “but.”
- Use open body language and relaxed facial expressions.
- Be concise.
- Use active and direct language.
- Make excellent eye contact. Aim for about 80% of the time.
- It’s also what you don’t say. Listen to people carefully.
Let’s look in more detail.
9 Things You Can Do to Become a Persuasive Speaker
5 Steps to Eliminating Filler Words Forever
1. Tone of Voice
Our tone of voice can be more harmful or beneficial than we think. Let’s make sure you’re using your voice the right way. Most people have a tight vocal mechanism leading to a voice that’s less attractive & warm-sounding than it could be. Many of us use either upspeak or even hold on to the last syllable.
Upspeak undermines you. Do you know how? I’ll tell you. Upspeak is the intonation we use when we ask a yes/no question. So you are letting your audience decide if you’re right or wrong. It takes away your power.
Dragging the last syllable is also a problem. Listen around for it; you’ll hear it everywhere! Where the intention may be to sound “nice,” we end up seeming condescending. You see where I’m going with this. Condescending does not lead to persuasion or significant influence.
Even when upspeak & holding onto the last syllable isn’t an issue, you’ll hear tight voices that don’t sound as warm, engaging & magnetic as they can.
That’s because many people are talking from their throats & using too much tension when they speak. Warm, engaging & magnetic are the foundations for being persuasive—quite the opposite of vocal fry. You definitely don’t want to use vocal fry if you’re trying to be persuasive.
Being a Great Communicator Can Be Rocket Science, and It’s OK
What the heck is that? I don’t have to work on my intonation; my intonation is fine! Uh. No, it’s probably not.
When we find ourselves in more anxiety-ridden situations (which those who continue to strive for greater success consistently do), we tend to use a flat intonation pattern. Doing so causes your listener to lose interest and let their minds wander.
Did you ever go to a presentation just so excited to hear the speaker and start thinking about what you’re going to have for lunch within minutes? Stop blaming yourself! Your inability to attend to the message is the speaker’s fault for using a very flat intonation pattern.
People with executive presence have intonation/rhythm nailed down. Tony Robbins uses a varied intonation pattern. Bill Clinton has an excellent intonation pattern.
A-list actors like Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts just mesmerize you with their rhythm.
It’s a varied intonation pattern and it’s a strong part of anyone’s verbal brand. Either mesmerizing and persuasive or dull and unconvincing.
If you want to DIY your intonation take The Voice Spa. You’ll learn to be habitually relaxed, have a magnetic voice, and use persuasive intonation.
Don’t underestimate the role intonation has on your ability to influence others.
3. No Ands, ifs, or buts
Run-on sentences make it very difficult for people to process the information you’re putting out there. Picture this: You’re in a meeting trying to make a point & the word you use most is “and,” & it’s the loudest word in the sentence. You spend the most time on it.
Here’s how it sounds: “So I went to the meeting aaaaand I met with the client aaaaaand I told them what we could offer aaaaand…” That is absolutely no persuasive speaking
Don’t make this mistake! Run-on sentences encourage interruptions & cause bosses & clients to micromanage you. Listen around for others in meetings, then listen for yourself. If you’re serious about being more persuasive, you’ll record your side of a phone call.
4. Closed body language
Are your legs crossed? God-forbid–your arms? No! Don’t do this. You’ll lose your listeners’ confidence in you as well as cause them to be closed to your message.
Amy Cuddy, Social Psychologist, sums it up when she says: “Our nonverbals govern how other people think and feel about us.” She’s done a great deal of research indicating that this is a low-power pose. She gives strong evidence that keeping your arms & legs crossed makes you less powerful.
This causes you to be significantly less influential. Closing your body limits your ability to be persuasive.
Here are some body language fixes you need right now. Check out the article to also learn how to read others’ body language.
What Crimes are Getting You Interrupted, Micromanaged, and Ignored?
5. Beating around the bush
Are you using a 10-word sentence when you could have made your point in 4? Did it take you 15 minutes to explain something that you could’ve described in 5?
Over-explaining is a real problem. It makes it so folks never end up understanding your message. And can also lead to your micromanagement (insert scary music here).
6. Passive wording
I’m not just talking about that “business” active voice & passive voice that we learned back in grade school, although you should avoid passive voice whenever possible, too.
I’m talking about the use of passive, undermining words.
Words like “like,” “actually,” “just,” “well,” and even filler words. I’m not the filler word police, but if you use too many you’ll not sound very smart. I’ll show you the real crime here.
Joe: Hi Janice, nice to meet you. What do you do?
Janice: Well, actually, um, I do marketing, I’m the Vice President of Marketing at XYZ
Not the most persuasive speaking, is it?
(Mini aside: I’m on a one-woman mission to stop people’s first question out of their mouths when they meet someone being, “What do you do?” or “Where are you from”
I like my clients to be a bit more imaginative than that–so I arm them with an arsenal of anecdotes. But since it’s still the most common first question, I’m using it here. Also, we need to nail our elevator pitches, am I right?)
I jest not with you, folks. I’ve asked this question to thousands & thousands of clients over the past 20 years (for training–not conversation 🙂 ), and nearly invariably, I get at least three passive words before they answer the question.
7. Facial expressions
There’s some little-known info coming up right here, folks. What is your face doing? When I first started my business as a small child back in 1996, I scrunched up my forehead all day long.
I had lines running across my forehead. I looked around on the subway and saw lots of young people doing it. I thought, “I guess it just comes with age.”
Mistaken I was. After doing my relaxation exercises & learning the importance of What’s my Face Doing? Those lines went away.
You can eliminate those lines by relaxing the muscles of your face. Yes! You have muscles under your skin. And they get tight and you can relax them. Take The Voice Spa. It’ll teach you how.
Stress Shows in Your Face
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Like, who’s this cutie pie & why’s he so stressed out? He’s got tension in his brow that can easily distract from his message and cause him to have a higher pitch and get anxious.
And if he leaves the tension there, those lines will turn into deep wrinkles. So come to me, honey, I’ll straighten out that face. It’ll last forever. That’s much longer than botox!
(My CMO, Lena, has informed me that it’s Chris Hemsworth. His latest magazine cover shows these lines even deeper–yikes!)
Use a back resonance to be more persuasive.
People who talk with front resonance and a bit of excessive nasality tend to have deeper nasolabial folds.
Using my relaxation exercises, my clients have smoothed out the front of their faces. Use whichever ones you want, just make sure you eliminate the tension in your facial musculature.
This lovely girl here has fairly deep nasolabial folds. And if she goes to a dermatologist, she’ll be talked into fillers. If she goes to a plastic surgeon, she’ll hear that surgery is her best solution. Really.
Do a google search to get rid of nasolabial folds. You’ll find doctors are desperate for your business.
Guess what? It comes from tension in your cheek musculature. Get rid of the tension by massaging them (and signing up with us to teach you our relaxation exercises), and those NL folds will disappear within a few short weeks.
Cheaper and longer-lasting (forever) than surgery or fillers.
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What Should Your Face Be Doing to Help You Be More Persuasive?
Your face should be a blank canvas so you can use your facial expressions as bold, italics, or underline to underscore your message. Not something that distracts from your message. Oh, and no lines on your face? Cool byproduct. Having a face that provides the nuances to your verbal message helps you become a persuasive communicator!
These are the issues standing in your way of getting people to do everything you want them to. It’s no secret that some people exhibit excellent persuasive speaking skills. They are often in higher positions than others. These people know how to be persuasive. Learning & practicing these persuasive speaking techniques will certainly help you in the long run.
Let us know if you need any help! We’re here for you.
Your comments are very valuable! I’d love to hear your techniques for being more persuasive. And let me know what success you’ve had trying these techniques.
Up next: The solution to these problems.
9 thoughts on “Get What You Want with More Persuasive Speaking”
Great tips! Thank you, Ita!
I’ll do whatever it takes to get what I want more often hahaha In all seriousness though, I could see this could be very useful when it comes to classroom management.
I never thought about what my face was doing. I have those lines around my mouth and I thought it was just aging. I’m only 34! But it makes sense that it’s a tense muscle. I’m going to massage them right away!
Very comprehensive article. It is very important to be persuasive. The body language, facial expressions, working on you elevator pitch. Really great stuff. Thank you!
Happy to help, Jean Carlos! Thanks for your wonderful feedback. Yes, the ability to persuade is easily attainable.
I love your blog, Ita. It’s completely helped me see my communication skills in a different way. I never realized I could improve them so much. I’m on session 2 of The Voice Spa and it’s already changing my life. The relaxation exercises alone. I can sit in a meeting and be relaxed. I’ve been preparing some “speech blurbs” as you say and they are really well received. Thank you so much!
Oh my gosh! I’m so happy The Voice Spa is helping you! So proud of you for preparing your speech blurbs. It’s easy, right? Takes only a few minutes and then it saves you time and earns you more income!
You can get the MiniSessions where you send me your recordings via Whatsapp or duo and I’ll send you feedback.
This article is incredible. So insightful and we’ll organized. Thank you, Ita!
I really appreciate that, Richard!