August 2017

What's the purpose of presenting? You invest the time and effort in preparing and rehearsing your presentation--and possibly travelling to the audience's location--but why? What's the outcome you aim to achieve? Ultimately, it's to persuade someone. When an effective leader speaks, his or her goal is to influence the audience's thinking in order to achieve a certain result. Consider using the three suggestions below because the words you choose can greatly enhance your ability to persuade. 

Thank you for your continued readership and commitment to communication excellence. 

Kind regards,
The Language of Leadership:
3 Ways to Speak More Persuasively

By Darlene Price, Well Said, Inc. 

"Speech is power: speech is to persuade,
to convert, to compel.
--Ralph Waldo Emerson
Effective leaders use language that captivates, motivates, and persuades others. Their deliberate choice of specific words and phrases is one of the key components of their persuasive communication. Regardless of the audience, topic, or industry, or whether the setting is a stand-up presentation, sit-down conversation, or online meeting, a leader attempts to influence the listener's mind in order to achieve a certain result. Here are three ways to leverage the language of leadership and speak more persuasively. 

Lead with Action Verbs

To lead is to act. Achieving results requires some kind of action, some kind of doing. Therefore, when you speak with action verbs you connect the audience to the value you deliver. Tell the audience in the very beginning what they will gain. Will you help them accelerate sales, build customer loyalty, control costs, or optimize efficiency? Will your solution enable them to eliminate hassle, save money, increase retention, or transform quality of life? By selecting and emphasizing key action verbs, you communicate what you are doing and what the audience is gaining. In your next presentation, carefully choose several action verbs that clearly articulate the value you deliver. Here are a few examples :
  • Accelerate Achieve Align Boost Bridge Build Capture Commit Control Deliver Discover Drive Eliminate Ensure Expand Find Focus Foresee Gain Generate Grow Identify Increase Invest Lead Learn Leverage Manage Maximize Measure Offer Optimize Overcome Plan Produce Profit Raise Reduce Respond Save Simplify Solve Train Transfer Transform Understand Unleash Use

Convince with "Because"

As a leader, a big part of your job is convincing people. You want others to follow your vision, fund your project, adopt your recommendation, purchase your product, believe in your dream, accept your proposal, agree with your idea, to name a few. Convincing people to do something, however, requires giving them a reason. The most powerful word to signal reason is "because." Notice in the following examples how these leaders use the word "because" to connect their recommendation with the reason to comply:

  • Work hard to get your thinking clean and make it simple because once you get there, you can move mountains. --Steve Jobs
  • Stay in school, go to college, and get your degree because your education is the one thing that people cannot take away from you. --Michelle Obama
  • Give people self-confidence because then they will act. 
    -Jack Welch
  • Be a member of a team, rely on the team, sacrifice for the team, because the team, not the individual, is the ultimate champion. --Mia Hamm

Imagine how you could affect behavior and attitude if you said to your colleague or team, "Your role is critically important to our success because. . ."


Answer "So What/Who Cares?"

In a recent sales presentation to chief information officers, the presenter said, "Our software features artificial intelligence." Even though his company had invested millions to design and embed AI in the product, the point fell flat because the presenter did not explain the relevance to the technologists in the audience. They were likely thinking, "So What/Who Cares?"  A key element of persuasion is relevance. Listeners must hear how your message benefits them before they buy into what you're saying. This means your words must clearly articulate the relevant value that the audience will gain. Don't assume that relevance is obvious; plainly state it. Use the following phrases to connect your speaking points to audience benefits:

  • As a result of. . . you'll be able to. . .
  • Imagine having the ability to. . .
  • What this means for you is . . .
  • Instead of having to. . .now you can. . .
  • In closing, let's review the key benefits you'll gain:

Today, that same presenter is now a sales leader in his company because he leverages the language of leadership. He always answers the "So What/Who Cares?" question; he speaks with action verbs to communicate value; and he convinces by using the word "because." He and his sales team now say:


"As a result of using our AI technology, you'll be able to strengthen your data security,  prevent  outages, and  predict  performance. I urge you to choose our artificial intelligence solution because   Acme has been rated the number one leader in innovation, security, and service for five years in a row."

If you'd like more tips and techniques for delivering powerful persuasive presentations, please read my book, Well Said! Presentations and Conversations That Get Results (available in hard cover, Kindle, and audio). 




Feel free to contact me directly to schedule an in-house corporate training event for your team. I would be honored to support your presentation and communication success.

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