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?
Think these things are impossible? They’re 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.
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.
Here’s the list of 9 things that you need to be a persuasive speaker:
- 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 Make You a Persuasive Speaker
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.
Check out my video/post on upspeak here. Upspeak undermines you. 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.
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 of us 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 fault of the speaker using a very flat intonation pattern.
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.
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 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. 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.
Stress Shows in Your Face
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 as well as cause him to have a higher pitch and get anxious. And if he leaves the tension there, those lines will turn into 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!)
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. 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 for getting 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 so we can 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.
What Should Your Face Be Doing to Help You Use Persuasive Speaking?
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 that are standing in your way of getting people to do everything you want them to.
Up next: The solution to these problems.