persuasive public speaking – Talking in Public

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Should I Be Persuasive In My Presentation?

Persuasive wordsI imagine that some of you when seeing this topic will think I am going to talk about selling.
Not exactly. Not about selling from the platform anyway.

I am going to talk about how you can use the power of words and word pictures to help your audience travel the path you want them to follow. This might be an idea, a project, a report or simply an introduction to you.


Persuasive words can be power words as I covered in an earlier post. (Click here to read that post). They are often emotive words since none of us will take action without some kind of emotion driving us. This is the key. The most useful persuasive words are verbs not adjectives. We might feel that adding lots of
descriptive adjectives to a speech will make it more interesting and “colourful”. Simply not true. The more verbs you have, the more persuasive the speech will seem.

As an aside, this is also true for website and advertising copy.


Here are some examples of words that can be persuasive in a speech.


If we look at a famous speech from last century, Winston Churchill’s “Blood, Sweat and Tears”, this speech has only 12.1% adjective ratio (81 adjectives from 667 words). The power and persuasiveness of the speech was in the use of verbs – action words – to rally the people to his call.


Let’s look at this at a very basic level. When do you take action as a result of being persuaded? Is it when you are offered an outcome following action you take? It all comes back to action which equates to verbs.

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Now a word of caution. When writing your speech or presentation, you need to keep in mind the words that can cut a sentence in half.


Experience shows me that whatever is said after these words is what your audience will remember. Use them wisely, think about what you want your audience to do or remember. Compare the persuasiveness (and consequent action) of

I want to accelerate this project because this problem needs to be solved.

What is your first reaction – that the problem needs to be solved, not that the project is going to be accelerated.

Try a few examples yourself and gauge your responses. Naturally this can be used to advantage in your speech, even with the example above.


In the next post I am going to compare the relative merits of practising your presentation with and without recording it. Scary for some!!