Can you speak persuasively when you need it most? So you’re awesome at telling your friends your great idea but when it comes to speaking persuasively to your team & your boss it doesn’t come out quite as mellifluously, does it? Not exactly the oration it sounded like in your head, is it?
You’re great at telling your mom or your bestie about yourself but during a job interview it just doesn’t sound as influential, does it? A little bit of stuttering here & there? Drawing a blank? Too many “um”s? Talking too fast?
The Department of Communications at the University of Pittsburg defines “Persuasive Speaking” as
Persuasive speaking is the type of speaking that most people engage in the most. This type of speech can involve everything from arguing about politics to talking about what to eat for dinner. Persuasive speaking is very connected to the audience, as the speaker must, in a sense, meet the audience halfway.
We’ve established that there’s a difference between how persuasive you are during comfortable situations vs the ones where something can actually come of it. We’ve established that 1. you’re not alone & 2. there are good reasons for this.
But now let’s do something about it! These are not things you have to live with! Let’s get you super cool & persuasive when you need it most.
Persuasive Communicators are Relaxed
Find out what relaxes you & make sure you’re doing these things regularly. For me it’s going for a walk, listening to music, going for a walk while listening to music, gardening & doing my relaxation exercises. The ones that keep me habitually relaxed before & during every communicative situation. Being relaxed is the foundation for you to be able to speak persuasively.
Make a List & Prepare Your Message
Make a list of the areas you want to be more persuasive & get more out of life. Is it when you meet new people? At meetings when you spew your genius? Dating? Interviews? Giving a speech? Your elevator pitch?
Record yourself saying what you might say during those times & relentlessly assess yourself. Don’t be in denial like the folks on Kitchen Nightmares. You’re not perfect at communicating in anxiety-ridden situations-none of us are. So figure out precisely what you’re doing wrong & fix it. Practice doesn’t make perfect unless it’s paired with self-assessment & improvement.
Add Pauses & Linking to Your Newly Designed Message
To speak persuasively you need to add pauses and link your words together. You may not have to slow down your rate of speech as much as you think. Timing and pauses help your listener be in the present with you. Remember, when you’re speaking you’re usually thinking of the next thing you’re going to say. Your listener is still processing the last thing you said. Input your pauses correctly & you’ll both be in the present. There’s something magical about that.
Try it a few times on your own with the recorder. Then try to record your side of a real conversation with others while you’re telling your stories. Of course, relentlessly assess!
Be hard on yourself, because your message matters. Learning to speak persuasively is not about manipulating people; far from it. You can only be truly persuasive when you believe in your message, but that tends to be when your nerves are at their worst. So keep your purpose in mind when you’re struggling to listen to yourself on recording to help you push through the awkwardness (I know, we all sound so weird to ourselves when recorded).
Measure Your Success
Look for incremental improvements. You’re not going to go from 0-100 right off the bat. (Trying to convince my 7-year-old of that!) Measure in increments of 10% each time you tell your story. When I say relentlessly assess do it objectively like a scientist. Assess your errors but just as importantly look at what you’re doing right and watch it continually improve with each story you tell.
Just like any other goal you must define it & set up a step-by-step process to get there. Measure your success along the way & in a matter of weeks, you’ll be getting what you need out of life in the most rewarding areas of your life.
Watch this video of Ita Olsen: Why am I Not Automatically an Incredible Speaker