Setting up a meeting is the easy part. Now that you’ve got everyone in the room and set up your presentation, how do you get your audience to listen?
The key lies in the art of persuasion – no, not the used car salesman kind of persuasion. Not anything pushy, aggressive, or dishonest. We’re simply talking about speaking in a way that engages your audience and encourages them to look at things from your perspective. That’s persuasion – not manipulation.
Take a look at our list of tips for speaking persuasively and engaging your audience:
Structure matters – Keep your sentences short, sweet, and to the point. As active sentences are more engaging, avoid using the passive voice. Make sure your presentation is arranged logically, with introduction, body, and conclusion segments. Use the introduction to clearly establish your agenda and goals. In the body, provide the ‘meat’ of your argument – the facts, statistics, and data. In the conclusion, summarize your arguments and provide a few relevant testimonials.
Be dynamic – Dry as the subject may seem, you’re at a meeting, not a calculus lecture. A stiff posture and a monotone just won’t do. If you want to get your point across, you have to be dynamic. Use body language, move around, and vary your tone and volume of voice. Show some energy, be excited about what you have to say. No matter how formal the occasion, let your personality come out. Of course, overdo it – too much energy will make you appear hyperactive and insincere.
Tell a story – Introduce a character – real or imagined – along with the challenges they face. In narrative fashion, show your audience how the character uses the products or solutions you offer to overcome those challenges and succeed. After all, your product isn’t just a prop – it’s the hero of your whole presentation.
Craft your argument – Though you may think persuasiveness is all about rhetorical style, quite a lot of it comes down to good old fashioned logic. It’s important to craft your argument carefully. Avoid ad hominem attacks and other manipulative arguments, instead focusing on the advantages of your product or perspective. Provide facts, data, statistics, test results – not too much, just enough to get your audience thinking: ‘If this product offers X specifications for Y cost with Z warranty, it really does beat the competition.’ Lead your audience to come to their own conclusions about the benefits you can offer.
Use comparisons and figurative language – Writers use comparisons and other figurative elements to transform what would otherwise be boring descriptions into engaging language that draws readers in. Rather than describing someone as a ‘grey-haired man with blue eyes,’ a character may have ‘hair grey as a wolf, eyes blue as the sea.’ While such language may seem over-the-top for a business presentation, it doesn’t have to be. After all, which would you rather buy – a processor which is ‘quite fast,’ or one which is ‘lightning-fast’?
Use sensory language – We humans have five senses, and each is connected to memory and cognition in its own way. Though you may not be able to appeal directly to senses such as taste, touch, and smell in the context of a business meeting, you can certainly use language which appeals to those senses. For example, when presenting a product, don’t just provide the specifications, describe how it looks, feels, or sounds.
Though persuasive presentations require a reasonable amount of planning and practice, the most important rule of persuasiveness is the simplest of all – believe in what you have to say. After all, if you can’t convince yourself, how can you expect to convince your audience?
For more tips an advice, visit the Collaboration Blog.