Top ten style tips for persuasive speaking

  • Make eye contact with your audience – let them know you’re talking to them
  • Use variety – in your voice, body language and facial expressions – that way you’ll keep everyone’s attention
  • Make sure your body language and tone of voice is appropriate to what you’re saying – if you’re talking about something sad don’t smile and vice versa
  • Don’t move around too much – you don’t want the audience getting seasick!
  •  If you stand up straight with your head up and your shoulders back everyone will think you’re confident,  even if you’re really feeling nervous
  • Try and sound like you care about what you’re talking about – if you sound bored, your audience will be bored too
  •  Try and pick interesting and persuasive language – if you just say “good” and “bad” all the time it won’t be as effective as picking your words carefully.
  • Try and pick examples or analogies that you think are appropriate for your audience  – an example from youth culture will be more persuasive to a room of teenagers than to an older audience
  •  Try and have a strong opening so that you make an impression from the beginning – think in advance of a powerful way to grab the audience’s attention – and a strong closing so that you leave them on a high note
  • Have a “sound bite” that everyone in your team can use a few times in their speeches e.g. in a Women on the Frontline debate “quality is more important than equality”

Rhetorical devices

Use classical rhetorical devices in your speeches. My favourite five are:

  • Rule of Three (life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness)
  • Repetition (Eduction, Eduction, Eduction; I have a dream)
  • Alliteration (Veni, Vidi, Vici – trans – I came, I saw, I conquered)
  • Opposites (Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country)
  • Rhetorical Questions (How much longer are we going to put up with this?)

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