A persuasive speaker is skilled at steering others towards an action or to support their own opinion. This can come in handy in a multitude of situations, from arguing with a colleague to haggling down a price. The key to developing this skill is rhetoric.
The aim of rhetoric informs, educates, persuades or motivates your audience to a specified agenda. But rhetoric is no great mystery. You use it when you ask your boss for a day off work or tell a friend about a product you think they’d enjoy using.
To help you become more influential in your everyday dealings, we’ve outlined 6 ways to be more persuasive. These tools will help you to speak directly to people’s instinctive, emotional and logical brains.
1. Repetition and short sentences or phrases
Repetition and short sentences or phrases provide considerable impact. Repetitive language affirms key points and drives home the core message. It delivers the spoken word with importance, significance and power. Likewise, short, staccato phrases mimic how we speak when we’re anxious and in a hurry. As a result, it can be used to communicate urgency to your audience.
2. Tricolon – the power of 3
Tricolon is a rhetorical tool comprising three parallel clauses, phrases, or words that come in a quick succession. The most useful aspect of this literary device is its effectiveness in punctuating an idea and making it memorable. A famous example is from Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg speech, when he noted that ‘…Government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth’. Neither will tricolon, as its roots can be traced back to ancient Greek philosophy.
3. Balanced statements
A balanced statement is made up of two segments equal in length and grammatical structure and meaning. Well-known examples include, ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going’ or ‘it was the best of times, it was the worst of times’. A balanced sentence gives rhythmical flow to the text and draws attention to the statement, making it stand out.
Metaphors describe an object or action in a way that isn’t literal, to define an abstract concept. Calling someone a black sheep, saying you have cold feet, or describing life as a highway are all metaphors. These images apply figurative and colourful language to convey a concept in a way that peaks interest.
Hyperbole is an exaggeration used to elicit deep feelings or create a powerful impression. But it is not meant to be taken literally. You use it when you say things like:
- This bag weighs a ton.
- He’s older than the hills.
- I’m so tired, I could sleep for a year.
- I’ve done this a thousand times before.
Rhythm is the sense of movement in speech, marked by the stress, timing and quantity of syllables. It’s useful when communicating, as it helps us to keep track through the stream of steady speech. It enables us to break up speech into words or other elements that identify changes between topic or speaker. It also allows us to isolate items in the message that are the most important.
Persuasive people understand how to frame and deliver their messages. But more importantly, they know that the message is what really matters. These tools are just the icing on the cake. Be clear, be concise, be to the point. Moreover, only use your persuasion skills for good, not evil.