Delivering an Effective Persuasive Speech – The Essential Elements
Delivering a persuasive speech is entirely different from delivering an informative speech. During an informative speech you are not required to convince or alter anyone’s point of view. However, when you deliver a persuasive speech, the sole aim is to convince listeners that they should accept your way of thinking. Influence is a major goal of a persuasive speech. Simply put, a persuasive speech explains why listeners should or should not do something and why they should believe the perspective of the speaker.
Not all speeches require the speaker to persuade the listener. For example, a budget speeches, project report presentations and technical presentations simply rely on facts and only require the speaker convey information.
An example of a persuasive speech would be a sales presentation, where closing the sale through proper persuasion would be the main motive. Another example is a speech at a fundraiser, where the motivation is the collection of funds or securing of grants. Each of these speeches requires that the speaker connect with, convince and motivate their listeners.
Elements of Persuasion
A persuasive speech will always:
- Appeal to the moral beliefs and values of your listeners. There isn’t much chance of persuading your listeners until you can reach their core values and connect with them.
- Convince them that the facts that you lay out in the speech are the truth.
- Convince them that the solutions that you present are the ones that will work for the problems that you outline.
Body Language and Voice Tone
Body language and voice modulation are key when you want to make an impression that convinces. A strong, but not arrogant or stiff posture is important. Your audience is hardly likely to be energized about your cause or sales product, if you deliver the speech with sagging shoulders and a glum face. Your face must be filled with the power of what you are telling them. Your delivery should include the right inflections and proper variations of pitch and tone.
Using a monotone voice is a sure way to lose your audience during a persuasive speech. You’re trying to persuade and your voice should convey this with the correct emotional tone. A persuasive speech should be delivered in a loud, clear voice, although this doesn’t mean that you need to yell at your audience to convince them about your ideas.
Another delivery tip to keep in mind is to space your words correctly. This might not seem important, but it can make a huge difference in the pace and understandability of the speech. Don’t deliver your speech so slowly that you sound like a boring drone. On the other hand, don’t rush though your speech in your excitement to persuade. The audience must be given time to absorb facts, and let them sink in. An example would be pausing for a few moments before and after you deliver an important fact – For instance, a brief, but profound pause before and after a sentence like “One million children in Bangladesh face the prospect of starving over the next five years,” will give your facts the sense of significance they deserve. Rush through your lines, and you risk sounding like you don’t care enough about your subject to spend the necessary time, or worse, like a smooth talker who considers his audience putty.
Use the right hand movements and body gestures to illustrate key points in your speech, but don’t use so many of them that you look like a comical figure on the podium. Your gestures should not distract from the content of the speech. Use your movements to accentuate important points and to gain your audiences attention if they begin to drift.
Emotions are a big part of conveying your message. Sterile, cold mannerisms will not help listeners connect with you. Be real. Insincerity can be spotted from a mile away. Avoid ingratiating smiles, fake laughter and silly jokes that do nothing to build your credibility. Speak in your normal voice, without fake accents, exaggerated inflections or any other nervous tics that will put the audience off.
A big part of connecting with an audience and helping them believe them what is convincing them that you are an authority in your field. It could be as simple as mentioning your past experience on a specific project. For instance, a line that begins with “In my 15 years of working as a project coordinator for Feed the Children…” helps the audience build an image of you as someone who knows what he or she is talking about, and therefore, can be trusted. You may or may not have written the speech yourself, but even if you didn’t write it, the speech must always sound sincere and convincing.
Cut down the use of words like “maybe”, “might”, “possibly”, etc. Instead, use powerful positive phrases like “we will” and “we must” that convey purposeful action, and not merely unsolidified plans. Use active phrases. For instance, instead of saying, “We have been told of a solution,” say “We have a solution.” Make your audience believe that you have the answers they are looking for.
Your language should be designed to evoke an emotional reaction in the listener.
For instance, your audience will be unlikely to dip into their pocketbooks to write out hefty checks for a charity aimed at feeding children in Bangladesh if you say “These poor children abroad need food.”
Instead, a sentence like, “Everyday, in many parts of Asia, thousands of children below the age of five pick rubbish from dumps in search of scraps of food to eat,” creates a powerful mental picture in listener’s minds that’s hard to ignore.
An effective closing that appeals to your listeners can make or break the deal. Don’t let your speech start off well, have great content, and then grind to a halt without making an impression.
The concluding paragraphs of the speech should always have a certain specific action that you would like the audience to perform. For instance, “Now, that you know how dire the situation is, and how little time we have, what are you going to do to help us make a difference in these childrens’ lives?” The closing para must have a clear cut call to action that prods listeners to do what you want. You’re not trying to get them to go home and think over what you just spent an hour telling them; you want them to begin taking action immediately after the speech has ended.