In the professional world, being able to convince and persuade other people is a crucial skill to have. You’ll be needing it often, especially when trying to convince others (like peers, colleagues, coworkers, or bosses) to think through your ideas or suggestions. By being able to speak persuasively, you’ll be more successful in unifying people through your ideas and getting others to support you.
If you want to be more persuasive when speaking in front of an audience, try using the following techniques.
1. Know your goals before you start speaking.
Struggling to figure out what to say or forgetting the point you were trying to make is definitely awkward, and if you’re talking to a larger audience it can become incredibly problematic. As such, regardless of who you plan on talking to, make sure that you’ve thought about the goal of what you want to say as well as how you plan on getting there.
That way, you’ll speak clearer and with more confidence in what you’re saying. Not only that, but since you know what you want to say and the main point you want to make, you can focus on reading your audience and preparing for any of their questions or responses.
2. Understand your audience and their needs.
Addressing the wants and needs of your audience comes first and foremost when trying to achieve effective persuasive communication. After all, they are the people you are trying to persuade.
While what you’re saying is important, being able to address the concerns and desires of your audience – what they find important – will make them more interested and open to your message. This is critical, as you can now dive deeper into your ideas and get them on your side.
Before planning out your presentation or meeting, consider the issues or concerns that your audience might be thinking about. How will you address the issues that they care about? What will get them to listen to and/or support your viewpoint?
3. Grab the attention of your audience.
The first step in persuading your audience is showing them that what you’re saying is worth listening to. Using relevant stories or experiences that demonstrate your point can be effective here. Depending on the topic of your presentation or meeting, you could also choose to give a shocking fact that will get them to pay attention and listen.
Whatever you plan on talking about, it will go much more smoothly if your audience is listening closely from the beginning.
4. Use evidence and experiences to demonstrate credibility.
In the professional world and in day-to-day life, people are shown to listen more to a person of authority – this can either be authority over them (e.g. boss) or authority in one’s own field. As such, you’ll have better chances of persuading your audience on topics you have direct knowledge or experience in. Additionally, make sure to bring a lot of evidence for the claims you want to prove, as your audience will be more receptive when you do so.
5. Speak with your own voice.
You might be reading this and scratching your head – that’s how we all present, isn’t it? Using our own voice? Well, many people tend to forget this when they haven’t prepared enough before going up to speak. As such, their tone is not relaxed and their voice is not authentic, which makes it harder for people to hear them out.
When you’re going to present or speak in front of an audience, think about how your voice would sound if talking to someone else, like a friend or family member. Of course, you need to stay professional, but my point is that you need to be comfortable with your own voice and have your own style. When you can speak confidently and present in a manner that draws attention to you, you’ll be successful in delivering your ideas.
6. Make sure your message is appropriate for your medium.
Be mindful of your communication medium when trying to persuade, whether you’re talking in front of an audience or writing a memo. It is important to keep in mind that not everything that works for one form will work for another.
For example, using a lot of data and facts can be effective when trying to write a persuasive piece to your coworkers, as they can read through things multiple times to understand all of your claims. However, this would not work at a meeting or in front of an audience – they would have a much harder time keeping up with you.
As a general note, persuasive communication works the best in person, as here you can make a stronger connection to other people as you speak. I wouldn’t try this right now, of course, given the current pandemic.
7. Make use of effective body language.
When trying to persuade others in person, like at a meeting, you have many tools on you that can help influence your audience. When communicating verbally, for example, your tone can affect how your audience perceives you and your claims.
Another factor to consider is body language, which can be as crucial as how you express yourself verbally. When speaking, portray confidence and conviction by having good posture and looking at them directly. Make sure to look at different parts of the audience, too – this will make a better impression than just zeroing in on one area.
Using your hands for gesturing can also hold your audience’s attention and add some impact to what you’re saying. This can be a better choice than having them at your sides.
8. Practice and experiment with how you communicate.
Above anything else, it’s crucial to practice as much as you can so you can get better at persuading others. Like all skills in life, what you get out is what you put in. Try to put yourself in different situations that can help you learn, and use the techniques above to see what works best for you.
All in all, how successful you are in persuasive communication is entirely dependent on how much time and effort you put into the craft. There is no easy way to become good at it – practice is the key to success.
For many people, it can be difficult to convince other people of your ideas, especially if you’re talking to someone important. However, this shouldn’t be something to run from, but a chance for you to learn and gain new skills.
While it is one of the several ways to help you improve, I cannot stress enough how important it is to practice. There are many opportunities ahead of you that you can use to get better, even if you haven’t noticed them yet. All in all, make use of all of these skills whenever you want to persuade or convince an audience. Over time, you’ll be able to unify people with your words and get the support of others for your ideas.