5 tips to sound more powerful and persuasive

Keep these in mind and power up before your next presentation. By Satyaki Sarkar

As a leader, one of the most important skills needed while delivering a speech or voicing your opinion in a meeting is the ability to convince and persuade people. Some of the most celebrated leaders in the world, from George Washington to Martin Luther King, were known to be brilliant orators, who were able to influence large groups of people through their words and persuade them effortlessly. However, in order to be a great leader, you don’t necessarily need to be a brilliant orator, but you most certainly need to know how to put your point across and persuade people. Here are five quick tips that will help you do just that.

1. Use specific words
The things we say is one part of what influences the other person’s perception, and there are various elements that come into play. One of these is the kind of words used. To sound persuasive you need to use words that subconsciously affect how your audience receives you. Studies have found that the most persuasive word of all is ‘you’, because people enjoy hearing about themselves and their attention attached to it. So make it personal be using worlds like ‘you’ and ‘I. Show cause and effect by using ‘because’. Stimulate them by using ‘instant’, ‘immediately’ or ‘fast’ to get them fired up about instant rewards. These words tend to grab people’s attention. Additionally, sound confident and sure about what you’re saying. Avoiding using phrases like ‘I guess’ and ‘I think’, as these allow your audience a chance to challenge you.

2. Draw them in with a narrative
Yet another useful trick that great leaders use to sound persuasive is presenting what they have to say in the form of a story, especially one that is personal and relatable. The key to this is moulding your story to fit the audience you’re addressing so they can fit themselves into it immediately. Use personal incidents and even examples of something your audience has experienced while building a narrative. Instead of blindly spouting out statistics and figures, incorporate them into your story, and make a connection with your audience, appealing to their emotions, and involving them in your story. This helps make what you’re saying seem a lot more agreeable to them, as it seem sto mirror their own thoughts, views, and experiences.

3. Emphasise and repeat
When you have successfully put forth your ideas and thoughts in such a way that it connects with your audience, the next step is to emphasise and reinforce the key points, through subtle repetition. The reason is that our brain inherently follows simple rules and behaviours instead of exerting itself, unless we specifically try to. As such, the more it hears the same thing again and again, the more it tends to agree with it. However, when doing the same, you must also be careful to not just simply say the same thing verbatim, over and over again, but instead, reinforce your thoughts subtly, saying the same idea in a different way.

4. Use body language wisely
The way you speak clearly plays an important part in deciding how your audience receives you, sometimes much more than the things you are actually saying. As such, your body language while speaking could be your biggest advantage. So exude confidence not just through your words but even through your body language. Have a relaxed but straight posture, don’t slouch or fidget around, as these convey the impression that you are nervous, unsure or uninterested. Use ‘power posing’ by maintaining an open, outstretched posture; stand with legs a little apart and make controlled gestures with your hands, or place them behind your back. Maintain eye contact during one-on-one interactions; it creates a connection between the two of you.

5. Be authentic and accurate
While how you speak might have a huge impact on your audience, that doesn’t mean you can say just about anything you want and get away with it. This is especially true in a professional setup where your peers and superiors are more than able enough to spot something that is a complete fabrication and something that is a cold, hard fact. As such, you should always make sure that what you are saying is completely accurate, and use references and quotes from authorities generously. This strengthens your audience’s confidence and belief in the authenticity of what you are saying, and help you convince and persuade them to see things your way a lot quicker.

Photograph: Jannoon028/ 

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