Persuasion: Winning Your Audience

How good are you at persuasion?

Are you a job applicant selling yourself to a recruiter or an employer?  Do you need to talk publicly? If so, you need to use persuasion. Knowing how to use persuasion is crucial to your success.

Public speaking experts will often refer to examples of persuasive speeches by famous people, including John F. Kennedy, Barack Obama, and Martin Luther King.

But you are John Q. Public or Jane Q. Citizen – an “average” person like myself – who doesn’t aspire to be a well-known politician or famous speaker. You just want to achieve your objective.

So your purpose may be to convince people to hire you. Or you may want to use persuasion in speaking publicly.

As I pointed out in the book review of “The 7 Principles of Public Speaking,”  you can train yourself to be an effective public speaker by educating yourself, hiring a specialist, or practicing a lot.

Being persuasive is essential to achieving your goals.  According to Speak with Confidence: A Practical Guide, a classic handbook for teaching public speaking, there are three ways to persuade:

  • Be logical
  • Be credible
  • Appeal to basic human needs, wants and desires.

How to be logical

Whatever you are arguing, you have to present persuasive evidence and reasoning. Evidence, of course, can be either facts or expert opinions.

Using evidence for persuasion

Let’s say you are a nutritionist and are giving a talk on healthy eating, one of my favorite topics. You want to convince your audience about the importance of reading food labels. You could present the following evidence.

Research shows that there are good fats, such as polyunsaturated fats – in seafood and fish oils, for example. There are also bad fats, such as trans fats found in french fries and donuts. By eating too much of the bad fats, you increase your chances of having a stroke (rupture of a blood vessel in the brain). So it’s crucial to know what you are eating by reading the labels on food products.

Using reasoning for persuasion

According to Speak with Confidence: A Practical Guide,  there are three fundamental types of reasoning: deductive, inductive, and causal.

The Three Types of Reasoning

Deductive Reasoning: Draws conclusions by moving from the general to the specific. (People who are overweight do not exercise very much. Jack is overweight. Therefore, Jack tends to not exercise very much.)

Inductive Reasoning: Starts with specific examples or cases and ends with a general conclusion based on the examples or cases. (There are many genetically-modified (GM) foods on the market. Research shows that GM foods may not be good for your health. Therefore, we should avoid eating GM foods.)

Causal Reasoning: Moves your logic from cause to effect, but sometimes confuses correlation with causation. (Studies show that about 10 percent of muscle mass is lost from age 25 to 50 years. As a result, you may enjoy physical activity less and increase your chances of injury if you continue to exercise past 50.)

Be sure that you choose good arguments to support your key points. Avoid logical fallacies which deceive or mislead your listeners. Here are two examples of fallacious reasoning:

1. Hasty generalization: You base your generalization on the support of a sample that is too small or biased to justify it.
Example: All overweight people do not exercise. (You know this is simply not true!)

2. False Analogy: This is an unjustified inductive argument based solely on analogy to prove its point.
Example: This must be the best dishwasher because, like the finest cars in the world, it was made in Germany. (What?! Don’t do this.)

Logical Fallacies To Avoid

To make this easier on you, we have created a pretty amazing PDF file for you to work through. Remember, each of our free lessons comes with free worksheets. We post some here, but for the full list, plus other exclusive money-making and English-learning goodies, sign up for your toolkit below.

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How to be credible

In point 9 of the book review “The 7 Principles of Public Speaking,” I listed six different ways to earn the trust of the audience.

Speak with Confidence: A Practical Guide reiterates the importance of gaining the confidence of your listeners through the following personal characteristics:

  • Being sincere and showing interest in others
  • Having experience and special knowledge of the subject
  • Being tactful, diplomatic and friendly
  • Showing confidence and poise
  • Being reputable and of high character

How to appeal to basic human needs, wants and desires

The third way to use persuasion is to appeal to basic human needs, wants and desires. In today’s world, calling on people’s emotions is probably even more powerful than communicating through reason.

Here are three powerful emotional triggers that will surely gain your audience’s attention and may even move them to action.

  1. Feeling good and looking good. This is a universal want that crosses all age levels and cultures. There is an increasing desire for health, happiness and well being. In fact, some countries are now using the concept of Gross National Happiness to define the quality of life and social progress.
  2. Social acceptance. Almost everyone wants to be part of group, to be accepted by their friends, peers, and fellow workers. This desire to be accepted socially has more and more people taking self-help courses and buying self-development books.
  3. Acquisition of wealth. Psychologists now realize that money and happiness do not always go together. However, most people desire more wealth, such as real-estate, art objects, stocks and bonds, and just plain cash. It increases their sense of financial stability and success.

Build A Stronger Vocabulary

To make this easier on you, we have created a pretty amazing PDF file for you to work through.

When was the last time you succeeded in persuading anyone to do anything? What was your secret?

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