“Tell a judge twice whatever you want him to hear; tell a special jury thrice, and a common jury half a dozen times, the view of a case you wish them to entertain.”
~ The forensic maxim.
No other means of communication has ever equaled the value and importance of the spoken word. From the wandering savages of the past, to the Bard who recited poetry to his audiences, to the Presidents who have won elections with their ability to impress people; the power of eloquence and expression to move men and persuade them has been widely recognized.
Stating something and proving a point does not make a speech. This “mere information” appeals to the intellect only, but leaves the listener cold and inactive.
Persuasion is an art form, an effective weapon that impresses your ideas upon the minds of listeners.
Persuasive speech is a specific type of speech that is delivered with a purpose. The speaker communicates with an audience to accomplish specific goals, to ensure the audience accepts his or her point of view.
A persuasive speech: formal or personal, is a type of communication that intends to bring about a change in others. Sales pitches, legal proceedings and debates are a form of persuasive speech.
The speaker may want to change other’s existing beliefs about a subject, or the audience is expected to take an action such as buying something. Whatever the specific goals, a persuasive speech is intended to reach people at a subconscious level, prompting them into taking action!
Methods Of Persuasion
The Greek Philosopher Aristotle was considered to be one of the most articulate speakers. His ideas are as relevant today as they were around 300 B.C.
According to him, there were three forms of rhetoric to influence people: ethos, pathos and logos.
Ethos (Credibility): When giving a speech, it is essential for the speaker to exude an aura of knowledge – showing people that the speaker knows exactly what he or she wishes to communicate.
Pathos (Emotional Appeal): This is a major component of persuasive speech, followed by the most eloquent speakers. Many a time people do things because of a “feeling” or an appeal to their emotions. These emotions could be based on compassion or fear. It is important to make that emotional appeal to persuade the audience.
Logos (Logical Appeal): It is important to provide evidence and reasons to support the appeal. Just like in court, where every appeal is combined with appropriate reasoning and evidence.
Several other factors contribute to the effectiveness of a persuasive speech. The body language, voice of the speaker, confidence levels, knowledge, the environment and others! Examples or slices of life are very useful in personalizing and reinforcing ideas.
The Art Of Persuasion
We usually regard persuasion as a perfectly natural attribute. In some sense it is. Everyone is blessed with some level of persuasive skills. A mother encouraging her child to study, when all the child wants to do is play; a politician trying to convince people to vote for him; a lawyer trying to persuade the judge of his client’s innocence – its all persuasion.
An example of persuasion is a sales pitch. A speech made with the intention of selling something to the audience. If the speaker is successful, the audience is convinced to purchase the product or service by the end of the speech. Sometimes it takes multiple speeches to achieve the goal.
While some people are born with the art of persuasion, others acquire it through practice.
Can Persuasive Speech Be Learned?
It takes a lot for an audience to accept a new view, and some persuasive speakers manage it with ease. But this art, which is often perceived as a skill, can be learned by anyone, from any field, whether it is a doctor, lawyer, student, teacher, or manager – persuasive speech will always have its special uses.
Persuasion not only requires mastery but also the ability to set intentions. Why does the audience need convincing? What is the primary goal that needs to be achieved through the speech?
Once the intention is identified, the persuasive component can be shaped.
Change cannot be introduced without resistance. How is resistance from the audience going to be handled? What are the important points and examples that are going to be used to convince the audience to see a specific point of view?
These are just some of the questions that need to be answered when preparing to give a persuasive speech.
“Thaw with her gentle persuasion is more powerful than Thor with his hammer. The one melts, the other breaks into pieces.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
If there was ever a time for businesses to learn the fine art of persuasion, it is now. Managers in organizations resort to persuasion when they seek change. In the contemporary fast reacting world, where the employee enjoys greater mobility than ever before, persuasion is preferred to unexplained orders.
Today, no manager can make the mistake of thinking, “I’m the boss, and I don’t have to waste time explaining or persuading. They better follow my orders.”
Yet, many people misunderstand persuasion, and more still underutilize it. The reason behind this is the misconception that persuasion is nothing but another form of manipulation used by devious sales people – and to be avoided.
Certainly, persuasion can sell products and services, but constructive use of persuasion helps lead people to a problem’s solution. It involves preparation and presentation of evidence to make the audience see how they can get from Position A to Position B.
Persuasion is the language of leadership you will do well to learn and practice.