Do you work, belong to a community group or share time with family and friends? If you do, then you will be engaged in persuasion some of the time. What skills do you need for effective persuasion? Below are some tips for you.
What is a persuasive speech?
A persuasive speech is one which is used to change, reinforce or create attitudes and behaviour.
Your aim is to educate and convince, or motivate an audience to do something. You are trying to sway the audience to adopt your viewpoint.
A persuasive speech tells the audience:
• Here is what I want you to do
• This is why I want you to do it
• I feel this way because . . .
Effective persuasion uses accurate logic, appeals to emotions and involves trust.
Ask yourself these questions:
Who am I talking to? (Topic must be appropriate for the audience)
What do I want to say to them?
Why do these people need to hear this from me now? (This is based on your beliefs, values and what you sense is right)
What do I want them to do?
Change an attitude or behaviour
Reflect on a problem in a different way
Reinforce existing attitudes or behaviour
The use of persuasive language will enhance your contention and is used to position the audience to accept a particular point of view.
Some of these techniques are:
Adjectives: Describing words which paint a vivid picture to make the listeners feel a particular way about the issue
For example: Live sheep export is barbaric and inhumane.
Adverbs: These are words which modify verbs and adjectives to allow the audience to feel a particular way.
For example: The job is almost finished. It is very expensive.
Alliteration: This is when the beginning sounds of words are repeated.
For example: Our financial future fell into a freefall. (Repeated use of ‘f’)
Appeals: The speaker appeals to the audience’s emotions such as a sense of fairness or patriotism.
For example: I call on your kind heartedness and understanding to help the homeless.
Anecdotes: These are short stories, often personal, which illustrate a point.
Clichés: These are overused expressions. Generally, clichés should be avoided, however they can express an idea quickly as their meanings are well known. For example: Dead as a door nail / read between the lines / time will tell.
Colloquial language: Everyday phrases can be used to create a connection to the audience.
For example: Politicians say they will give us a fair go.
Connotations: Words have associations or connotations which imply positive, negative or suggest different or added meaning.
For example: These two words – anorexia and thin – have similar literal meanings, however anorexia suggests more.
Emotive words: These are used to provoke an emotional reaction from the audience.
For example: The victims were executed in cold blood.
You are nit-picking.
The thug was blacklisted.
Exaggeration: Overstating something is used in persuasion.
For example: There are a million reasons why it must be done this way.
Evidence: Facts, figures and quotations are provided with the source in the information to support arguments.
For example: The Australian Bureau of Statistics states that . . .
Expert Opinions: These are given to support arguments.
For example: Smith Lawyers and Sons have clearly stated in their letter dated 5th January 2019 that our constitution meets all State regulations.
Inclusive language: To bring the audience in line with the speaker’s thinking the following words are used – we, us and our
For example: We will do this. Our children need us to take action.
Logic: A well-structured logical argument can be very persuasive.
Metaphor: Metaphors compare two things which have no obvious connection to emphasise a point.
For example: I’m drowning in a sea of grief.
She was fishing for compliments.
Hope is on the horizon.
Painting word pictures: Using vivid language can be very persuasive.
For example: The silence in the room was unnerving.
A lot of sweat and tears led to the cutting edge of the discovery.
Puns: A play on words which has the same pronunciation, but different spelling and meanings such as carat, caret and carrot can be used. Words which are spelt and pronounced the same and which have different meanings can also be used. For example the word pen can mean a writing implement or a holding area for animals.
For Example: She had a photographic memory but never developed it.
I’ve been to the dentist many times so I know the drill.
Repetition: The repetition of words, phrases and main points will reinforce an argument.
For example: We will fight the government’s tax policy, we will fight the reduction of funds for education and we will fight for those people who are homeless and need affordable housing.
Rhetorical questions: A question with an obvious answer will lead the audience to the desired conclusion.
For example: Can they do better next time? Isn’t this what we expect?
Similes: Similes are used to compare one thing with another so the description assists persuasion.
For Example: . . . blind as a bat
. . . as common as dirt
. . . as cold as ice
Tone: This is the overall feeling of the speech. Is it passionate, logical, well- informed? Is it well-balanced, impartial and objective?
Important features of a persuasive speech
Evidence – your speech is only as strong as the evidence you provide. Your evidence comes from four primary sources and these are the results from your own research, your own experience, the experience of others reported to you and the logic of your own reasoning.
Sharing your conviction – To be persuasive you need to speak from the heart and this means speaking with passion and personal knowledge. Before you can do this you need to know your own standpoint.
What motivates you?
What inspires you?
What irritates you?
What pushes your button?
Your passion may be personal or professional. Use all these techniques and show your persuasive power.