In business, the purpose of presenting is to persuade. Every time you speak, you have the opportunity to inspire change, promote a vision, sell a solution, or build your personal brand. Well-crafted language is a tool that can help. Consider using the three techniques below to add more persuasion to your next presentation.
Use a compelling metaphor. A big part of speaking with influence is helping your audience clearly see and understand your point. Brad, the Chief Information Security Officer for a multinational bank, needed his company's board of directors to approve funding for a major network security upgrade. Despite the growing dangers of cyber-theft, the board declined his request. In his next board presentation, Brad decided to use a metaphor for impact. He began by showing a vivid full-screen photo of a great white shark, bearing its dagger-like teeth, swimming toward an unprotected scuba diver. Pointing to the vulnerable diver Brad said, "This is us. Cyber predators will attack us unless we improve our security." Brad paused, presented supporting evidence, then showed a similar photo, but this time the diver was safely protected in an impenetrable shark-proof cage. Brad pointed to the secure steel cage and said, "I need funding to build this. Please approve the budget to ensure the safety of our network." The metaphor made the point and the board approved his request. In your next presentation, consider using a compelling metaphor to convince your audience to say, "Yes."
Craft a catchphrase and repeat it. A second element of speaking with influence is getting people to remember what you say. A catchphrase can help; it's a refrain, a slogan, which succinctly states your big idea. Michael, the Chief Executive Officer of a large computer manufacturer, needed his 1,500 salespeople to cultivate better, more loyal, customer relationships. Above all, he wanted them to "Build customers for life." When Michael delivered his keynote address at the national sales meeting, he said the phrase, "Build customers for life" over ten times: in the opening, throughout the main body, at key transitions, in the closing, and during Q&A. The post-event survey asked attendees, "What's your key take-away from Michael's presentation?" Every person replied, "Build customers for life." Three years later, the company's sales and customer service ratings are at an all-time high, and Michael's catchphrase remains the slogan of every sales rep in the company. In your next presentation, craft and repeat a short catchphrase that succinctly states your big idea. It will influence your listeners to remember and act upon your key take-home message.
Present a clear call-to-action. A third device to help influence your listeners is "the ask," or call-to-action. What do you want your audience to do as a result of hearing your message? Do you want them to: Fund your project? Sign the order? Comply with regulations? Approve the budget? Buy your product? Schedule a demo? Make a decision? Support a cause? If so, ask them. A call-to-action tells your audience exactly what you want them to do. Throughout history, great leaders have successfully used a clear direct call-to-action in their speeches to achieve their desired result:
"Give equal rights to women." --Susan B. Anthony
"Commit to land a man on the Moon." --John F. Kennedy
"Continue to isolate the apartheid regime." -Nelson Mandela
At the end of your next presentation, what do you want your audience to do? Deliver a clear direct call-to-action and discover how your speech can influence change.
Please contact me to learn more about how to speak with influence. It would be my pleasure to conduct a high-impact coaching session for you or your team.
In addition, please read my award-winning book,
Well Said! Presentations and Conversations That Get Results (available in hard cover, audio, and Kindle).