How to be a Persuasive Presenter
Persuasive Presentation Tips
Make Persuasive Presentations
Are you a persuasive presenter?
No? Then find out how to be persuasive. It’ll make your presentations and speeches much more effective.
OK, so how to do it? Well, it’s a bit like getting a small child to do what we want. Cajoling, encouragement, bribery – it’s all part of the game.
The same applies with our audience. OK, perhaps not the bribery bit.
But whether the objective is to entertain, educate or persuade, we need to engage with our audience. It’s essential to develop a rapport. To get them onboard with our aim.
We want them to understand that we’re interested in them and what we can do for them. We have to be believable, sincere, authentic, call it what you will. Of course the content of the speech has to be appealing, to be relevant. But it’s the way we deliver it that will make the difference.
Mean What You Say
At some point most of us have walked up to a shop counter and the sales assistant has said, “Can I help you?”. But it’s been said in a downbeat voice. While looking down at the counter. It was quite obvious they didn’t really mean what they said. Their enthusiasm for helping us was minimal. And so was our enthusiasm for shopping there again.
Other times we may have been on the receiving end of a sales pitch and it’s clear that it is being rattled off from a memorized script. With that approach, the salesperson probably wouldn’t be able to sell it to themselves!
Let’s take a look at how to make persuasive presentations by using our voice, our eyes, our body language, being amusing. Knowing what we’re talking about helps as well.
As we saw in the example above, a downbeat, dreary sounding voice is never likely to be persuasive. Other than to persuade us it’s time to take a nap.
A voice that sounds like a scripted recording is hardly going to excite either. If we listen to commercial radio stations, we’ll be familiar with the terms and conditions voice that follows an advert. The ‘small print’ voice. Do we make any attempt to listen to what’s being said? Of course not.
We’ll delve into how to use our voice most effectively in another post. For now, let’s just aim to sound enthusiastic and genuine.
OK, so we’ve given our sales assistant a bit of coaching about sounding enthusiastic when they say, “Can I help you?”
But it still doesn’t work. Why? Because they are maintaining their downward gaze at the counter. Or looking across to a colleague on an adjacent till.
Eye contact is important. Nervous speakers find it very easy to look at the floor, the ceiling, speaking notes. In fact anything except the audience.
To be convincing, to become a persuasive presenter, we need to make eye contact with the audience. Just scanning from side to side and from front to back at key points in the presentation will make a difference. And, for a fraction of a second, directly looking into the eyes of every audience member will make a bigger difference.
Yes, you’ve guessed, we’re back at that shop counter again! Now the assistant is sounding enthusiastic and is looking at us. But think how much better it would be if they smiled as well.
So what else does our friend need to do if they want to come out from behind the counter and venture into sales presentations?
We want them to appear animated and enthusiastic. But too much movement can be distracting. Hands can be used to emphasise or demonstrate some aspects, but we don’t want to see a windmill standing in front of us.
And we certainly don’t want a wandering windmill. One that endlessly moves around at the front of the room. If we were having a 1-2-1 conversation, we wouldn’t wander around, would we? And hand movement would be more controlled.
Getting the audience to laugh is one of the most effective ways to engage with them. To get them on our side. But it needs to be relevant to the situation and to what we are saying. A completely irrelevant joke, however amusing, is unlikely to work.
What does work well is to poke fun at ourselves. To be self-deprecating. (Note: this is not the same as apologising unnecessarily for any inadequacies we think we may have.)
We much prefer people who don’t take themselves too seriously to those who are full of themselves. Get the audience to giggle early on and we’re on our way to engaging with them.
In a previous post we looked at how to structure a speech. In simple terms, simplify. Have what content we need, or rather, what the audience needs. Remember, we’re trying to engage with them, so this has to be about them. If we’re selling something, we need to show how it can help them in some way.
It’s important to structure the presentation in a way that makes it easy for the listeners to follow. And it’s essential to rehearse the presentation so that we know where we’re going. We need to be confident about presenting the content and to be able to handle any questions without it throwing us off balance.
To be persuasive, engage with the audience. Use voice, body language and humour to encourage engagement. Eye contact with the audience will signal that we are talking to them and not just reciting our lines. Practise until the presentation can be delivered confidently. And with enthusiasm! Then we’ll become a persuasive presenter.
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