Speaking to Persuade

… a core topic in Communication Skills and Atlas109
and study materials for Week 6 of Atlas206 Internship Reading

Topic description

This topic introduces students to effective speaking practices to help students apply the practices of persuasion.

Note: In addition to elaborating a core topic in Leadership Skills and Atlas109, the concepts below constitute study materials for Week 6 of Atlas206 Internship Reading. The Atlas quiz can be found at Quiz 6 – Speaking to Persuade. All 15 quizzes for Atlas206 Internship Reading are available at Concept Quizzes for Atlas206 Internship Reading.

This selection of 14 effective practices draws substantially on advice developed by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Communication program (see HKS Speaking and Writing Handouts) and on the material in the links below to Andrew Dlugan’s Six Minutes site at http://sixminutes.dlugan.com/.

Topic learning outcome

Upon completion of this topic students should be familiar with the most effective practices in persuasive speaking.

Core concepts that can be viewed as effective practices
14 EFFECTIVE PRACTICES FOR SPEAKING PERSUASIVELY
Design*
Delivery
Beginning with a Grabber

Story Arc

Ladder of Abstraction

Ending Memorably

Elevator Pitch

Practicing the Presentation

Pre-speech Warm Ups

Reading a Speech

Body Language and Posture

Eye Contact

Voice Projection and Volume

Speech Pauses

Eliminating Filler Words

Controlling Uptalk and Like

*In addition, most of the core concepts associated with the topic, Persuading, are highly germane to the design of an effective speech.

Recommended 3 hours of study for Week 6 of Atlas206 Internship Reading

Concept pages above.

Amy Cuddy, “Your body language shapes who you are,” at http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are, TED Talk, June 2012, accessed 31 January 2016.

Meghan Keaney Anderson, What Makes a Presentation Great? Deconstructing an Awe-Inspiring TED Talk (the September 2009 talk by Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action, over 25 million views), 30 October 2013, at http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/great-ted-talk-deconstructed-ht, accessed 24 January 2016.

Complete Quiz 6 – Speaking to Persuade.

Recommended 10 hours of study for Atlas109 Leadership and Communication

Concept pages above.

Complete Quiz 6 – Speaking to Persuade.

Posture, voice, face, breathing, nerves

Amy Cuddy, “Your body language shapes who you are,” at http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are, TED Talk, June 2012, accessed 31 January 2016.

Holly Weeks, Creating Your Speaker Persona: A Little Larger than Life – You communicate your presence with your voice, face, and body, at http://shorensteincenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/HO_WEEKS_Speaker-Persona_10-12.pdf, accessed 24 January 2016.

  1. Animate your voice
  2. Engage with your face
  3. Coordinate your upper body with your face and voice
  4. Move your lower body

Allison Shapira, Just Breathe! How to add power to your voice and calm your nerves when speaking in public, HKS Communications Program, at http://shorensteincenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/HO_SHAPIRA_Just-Breathe.pdf, accessed 24 January 2016.

Allison Shapira, Leadership – The Art of Public Speaking, 4-minute YouTube video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R4QYt-NJ8mY, accessed 24 January 2016.

Frank Damelio, 2008, Public Speaking with Impact – Lesson I Veil the Nerves, 7-minute YouTube video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bcn_3HRxvmU, accessed 2 February 2016.

Frank Damelio, 2009, Public Speaking with Impact – Lesson II Emulating Confidence, 10-minute YouTube video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JIJPFpnvdDc&index=1&list=PL0F1A0C5A1D8E0D58, accessed 2 February 2016.

Frank Damelio, 2008, Authority & Persuasion, 7-minute YouTube video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQ6Sy9RbOkM&index=2&list=PL0F1A0C5A1D8E0D58, accessed 2 February 2016.

Advice on delivery technique from Andrew Dlugan and colleagues

Kate Peters, 2010, Breathing: The Seductive Key to Unlocking Your Vocal Variety, at http://sixminutes.dlugan.com/vocal-variety-speech-breathing/, accessed 27 January 2016.

Kate Peters, 2010, Pump Up Your Speaking Voice with a Strength Training Workout, at http://sixminutes.dlugan.com/voice-strength-training/, accessed 27 January 2016.

Kate Peters, 2010, Speak Up! A Guide to Voice Projection, at http://sixminutes.dlugan.com/speak-up-voice-projection/, accessed 27 January 2016.

Andrew Dlugan, 2011, How to Make Reading a Speech Not Like Reading a Speech, at http://sixminutes.dlugan.com/reading-your-speech/, accessed 27 January 2016.

Andrew Dlugan, 2011, How to Ace the Impromptu Speech, at http://sixminutes.dlugan.com/how-to-impromptu-speech/, accessed 27 January 2016.

Andrew Dlugan, 2011, How to Stop Saying Um, Uh, and Other Filler Words, at http://sixminutes.dlugan.com/stop-um-uh-filler-words/, accessed 27 January 2016.

Andrew Dlugan, 2012, Speech Pauses: 12 Techniques to Speak Volumes with Your Silence, at http://sixminutes.dlugan.com/pause-speech/, accessed 27 January 2016.

Andrew Dlugan, 2012, What is the Average Speaking Rate?, at http://sixminutes.dlugan.com/speaking-rate/, accessed 27 January 2016.

Andrew Dlugan, 2013, Volume and the Public Speaker: Be Heard and Be Effective, at http://sixminutes.dlugan.com/volume-public-speaker/, accessed 27 January 2016.

Andrew Dlugan, 2013, Simple Secrets to Improve Your Eye Contact, at http://sixminutes.dlugan.com/eye-contact/, accessed 31 January 2016.

Andrew Dlugan, 2015, How to Lead a Discussion group, at http://sixminutes.dlugan.com/eye-contact/, accessed 27 January 2016.

Design

Marie Danziger, Five Steps Towards More Successful Public Speaking, at http://shorensteincenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/FIVE-STEPS-TOWARDS-MORE-SUCCESSFUL-PUBLIC-SPEAKING_new2013.pdf, accessed 24 January 2016.

  1. Combat fear by building confidence
  2. Use your natural physical energy
  3. Focus and simplify
  4. Prepare and practice
  5. Think visually

Chris Anderson (curator of TED Talks), How to Give a Killer Presentation, Harvard Business Review, June 2013, at https://hbr.org/2013/06/how-to-give-a-killer-presentation/ar/2, accessed 24 January 2016.

  1. Frame your story
  2. Plan your delivery
  3. Develop stage presence
  4. Putting it together (practice)

Meghan Keaney Anderson, What Makes a Presentation Great? Deconstructing an Awe-Inspiring TED Talk (the September 2009 talk by Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action, over 25 million views), 30 October 2013, at http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/great-ted-talk-deconstructed-ht, accessed 24 January 2016.

  1. He opens by asking the audience to question.
    Tip: Get your listeners in the mindset. You don’t need to start with questions (although that was certainly a good approach here). A well-constructed story or a staggering fact can also work to help frame the speech.
  2. He introduces a clear and simple inflection point.
    The inflection point in speeches is the point at which the journey turns in on itself. The tone changes, the focus shifts, and, typically, there’s one line on which it all hinges.
    Tip: Know when your inflection point is coming. Give it space and emphasize when you deliver it. Use it as a milestone in your speech.
  3. He makes the speech tangible.
    Tip: Weave concrete data, research, and examples throughout your talks. Don’t concentrate them too heavily, lest you loose the attention of the crowd, but build them in throughout.
  4. He builds suspense.
    Tip: Don’t rush your story. Build in peaks and valleys to help develop suspenseful moments.
  5. He plays with parallel structure and contrast.
    Tip: Play with parallel structure and contrast in your own writing, but reserve it for the parts of your speech that are pinnacle. Overuse of parallel structure can lesson its impact.
  6. He’s smart with pauses.
    Tip: Before you give a speech, build in pauses and performance moments. Keep these moments few and far between for impact, though. Also, underline the lines your audience should be tweeting from their seats and make sure you build your emphasis around them.
  7. It’s not about the slides.
    Tip: Don’t be tied to slides. There may be a better way for you to help the audience visualize your story. Think about videos, hand drawn charts, or just the power of your own voice.
  8. Fascination cannot be faked.
    Tip: You spend lots of time getting the outline and words right for your speech. Dedicate at least a little of that time to remind yourself why your topic is so fascinating to begin with. Throw yourself into it. Show some curiosity and awe while you speak. 

Burt Helm, How to Give a Great TED Talk, at http://www.inc.com/magazine/201310/burt-helm/how-to-give-a-great-ted-talk.html, accessed 24 January 2016.

  1. Tell the story your way
  2. Work the crowd
  3. It’s not about you

Alexandra Levit, How to Give a Great Presentation, http://www.forbes.com/2010/05/18/how-to-give-a-great-presentation-forbes-woman-leadership-career.html, accessed 24 January 2016.

  1. Make the most of your introduction
  2. Consider your structure
  3. Use PowerPoint sparingly

Holly Weeks, Sex, Beer, and Rock ‘n Roll? The Good Opening, at http://shorensteincenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/HO_WEEKS_Sex_Beer-and-Rock-n-Roll_The-Good-Opening.pdf, accessed 24 January 2016

Marie Danziger, All About Introductions – a.k.a Grabbers or Zingers, HKS Communications Program, at http://shorensteincenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/ALL-ABOUT-INTRODUCTIONS_new2013.pdf, accessed 24 January 2016.

  1. Tell a personal, moving story
  2. Create curiosity with a controversial statement
  3. Ask a controversial questions—or series of questions
  4. State a striking fact or statistic
  5. Refer to some famous quotation or story, perhaps recasting them to suit the occasion
  6. Sum up a point with a pithy epigram
  7. Give a definition that does more than define
  8. Use a striking metaphor, analogy, or image

Marie Danziger, The First 60 Seconds – 7 Ways to Establish Rapport with Your Audience, HKS Communications Program, at http://shorensteincenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/The-First-60-Seconds_new20131.pdf, accessed 24 January 2016.

  1. Compliment them
  2. Identify with them
  3. Tell them a funny story
  4. Address their immediate concerns, fears, or expectations
  5. Acknowledge some difference or problem between you and them (if appropriate!)
  6. Describe an interesting story you just read or experienced – or a movie or TV show you just saw – to introduce your main theme
  7. Share your real-time feelings about the place, the occasion, or events that have just taken place

Marie Danziger, “Markers” for Public Speaking – highlighting key ideas with “markers” that alert your audience to pay particular attention, HKS Communications Program, at http://shorensteincenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Markers-for-Public-Speaking_new2013.pdf, accessed 24 January 2016.

Marie Danziger, Fly-swatter Techniques – rhetorical techniques to “swat” your audience back to attention, HKS Communications Program, at http://shorensteincenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/FLY-SWATTER-TECHNIQUES_new-2013.pdf, accessed 24 January 2016.

  1. Ask a probing or surprising question
  2. Give a striking fact or statistic or contrast
  3. Express a thought or emotion in real time
  4. Tell a brief story by starting with the words “One day (morning, night)…”
  5. Express an emotional reaction to your story
  6. Use a concrete, colorful visual image
  7. Suggest an unexpected metaphor or analogy
  8. Mention an audience member by name
  9. Refer to something that was said earlier in the program
  10. Say something funny when they least expect it
  11. Guess how the audience is responding to you and verbalize it
  12. Say “Here is the one (two, three) thing(s) I want you to remember”
  13. Lean forward and give a really concise, dramatic statement of your bottom line
  14. Interject a dramatic repetition of a key phrase, perhaps with a slight but significant variation
  15. Move suddenly from the dance floor to the balcony by commenting on your own performance
  16. Pause significantly and then say something important
  17. Describe a major change in your way of thinking over time
  18. Admit to ambivalence or uncertainty or internal struggle about a complex issue – but make sure you’ve been firm about other key issues
  19. Refer to someone the audience knows, loves, and respects
  20. Acknowledge some negative emotion like fear, hostility, envy
  21. Admit you’re aware of a difference or conflict between you and your audience
  22. Tell them you’ve just decided to say, share, admit something you weren’t planning to talk about, or that you’ve never said in public before
  23. Ask a question and then answer it with a resounding “NO!”
  24. Take a few steps and start with a new burst of energy
  25. Make a sudden change in your volume or intonation
  26. Announce something that you absolutely refuse to do, say, or think
  27. After making a persuasive point, pause and then say “Now here’s what I want you to do about it.”
  28. Tell them about the one thing your mother, father, grandmother told you that you’ll never forget
  29. Hold up an object that illustrates something you’re talking about
  30. Interrupt your talk with a thought, illustration, or anecdote that just occurred to you as you were speaking
  31. Refer to an article, photo, tv show, movie that you saw recently to illustrate your point
  32. Write something on the blackboard when it’s least expected
  33. Interject personal experience as concrete examples of abstract concepts
  34. Admit to some failing or weakness on your part that you have not yet overcome – but keep it light
  35. Stop what you’re saying and ask the audience if they are still with you
Dealing with challenging audiences

The Richard Lewis Model of Cultural Styles, from CrossCulture.com at http://www.crossculture.com/about-us/the-model/, accessed 27 December 2015.

Handling the Hostile Crowd, Toastmasters Magazine. Article by Judi Bailey available at page 16 at http://www.d25toastmasters.org/magazine/September2007.pdf, accessed 27 December 2015.

Defusing a Hostile Audience, Toastmasters Magazine. Article by Sandra DeLazier at http://westsidetoastmasters.com/article_reference/defusing_a_hostile_audience_2002-09.html, accessed 27 December 2015.

Recommended readings in MPP and MPA courses 

[TO COME]

Concept comprehension questions

CCQ206.06.01. Among the statements a-d pertaining to beginning with a grabber choose the one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. Because audience members who are interested in your subject will focus on your content there is no particular value in trying to “begin with a bang.”

b. Once the speaker has the attention of the audience, it is useful to quickly establish rapport.

c. Peter Jeff’s pneumonic, TEASE, provides the following five ways to start a speech: Testimonial (citing the behaviour of a celebrity pertinent to X and/or quote an influential person the audience will know of or respect); Evidence (presenting statistics or other data on X); Anecdote (telling a story of someone directly affected by X); Statement (making a bold observation on the importance of X) and Example (citing a person whose career really took off because of X).

d.  Marie Danziger suggests seven possible ways to establish rapport with the audience in the first 60 seconds: Compliment them; Identify with them; Tell them a funny story; Address their immediate concerns, fears, or expectations; Acknowledge some difference or problem between you and them (if appropriate!); Describe an interesting story you just read or experienced – or a movie or TV show you just saw – to introduce your main theme; Share your real-time feelings about the place, the occasion, or events that have just taken place.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid.

CCQ206.06.02. Among the stages a-d pertaining to story arc choose the one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. Exposition: setting the scene; followed by Inciting Incident: something happens to begin the action.

b. Rising Action: the story builds and gets more exciting, leading to Climax: the moment of greatest tension in a story.

c. Falling Action: events happen as a result of the climax and we know that the story will soon end, in Resolution: the character solves the main problem/conflict or someone solves it for him or her.

d. Dénouement: the ending. At this point, any remaining secrets, questions or mysteries which remain after the resolution are solved by the characters or explained by the author.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid.

CCQ206.06.03. Among the statements a-d pertaining to ladder of abstraction choose the one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. The ladder of abstraction is a concept created to describe the way that humans think and communicate in varying degrees of abstraction.

b. All speakers have a bias toward the top or bottom end of the ladder.

c. Speaking at one level of abstraction – whether at the top or the bottom of the ladder – results in a very unbalanced argument.

d. Examples of being stuck at the bottom of the ladder would be a politician who proposes a series of generic legislative reforms without addressing how the legislation will directly impact citizens, or a university professor who contrasts competing academic theories, but fails to ground any of them with practical real-life examples.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid.

CCQ206.06.04. Among the statements a-d pertaining to ending memorably choose the one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. Bookend close: Refer back to your opening anecdote or quote.

b. Callback close: Refer back to a story you told where some activity was not fully completed.

c. Repetitive close: Find a phrase and structure it in a repetitive format that strikes the cadence of a drummer, building to a crescendo ending of a motivational speech.

d. Third party close: Use the premise of a quotation to frame your finale so that it serves as a launching pad to lift your message high for the audience to more fully appreciate.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid.

CCQ206.06.05. Among the statements a-d pertaining to elevator pitch choose the one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. Persuasive speakers should be able to describe yourself, your proposal and its value proposition in 30 to 120 seconds, the time span of an elevator ride.

b. The purpose of the elevator pitch is interest the listener sufficiently to allow you to make the full pitch.

c. An elevator pitch has less utility in a policy-making environment than it does in a business environment.

d. Elements of an elevator pitch can include answers to the following five questions: Who are you? What is your policy area? Why is it important? What is your goal? How will you carry it through? How much and what kind of support do you need to carry it through?

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid.

CCQ206.06.06. Among the statements a-d pertaining to practicing the presentation choose the one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. Practicing a presentation reduces spontaneity and usually reduces the ability to connect with the audience.

b. Most people do not devote a sufficiently high a portion of the total preparation time for a presentation to rehearsing its delivery.

c. Benefits of practicing a presentation include discovering awkward phrases and tongue-twisters that you did not notice when writing and editing.

d. Benefits of practicing a presentation include gauging the timing and reducing nervousness since rehearsing even one time will improve your confidence in your material.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid.

CCQ206.06.07. Among the statements a-d pertaining to pre-speech warmups choose the one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. Exercises before speaking can improve a presentation or speech.

b. Warm up is unnecessary for presentations in a small room or for audiences of less than 6 people.

c. Good speech takes muscle and just as your leg muscles work better if you warm them up before a run, so will your speech muscles work better if you warm them up.

d. Longer warm-ups can include stretching and breathing exercises followed by reading selected word sequences.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid.

CCQ206.06.08. Among the statements a-d pertaining to reading as speech choose the one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. One should never deliver a speech by reading from a text.

b. Although most public speaking advisors counsel against reading texts, there are occasions when it is necessary or expedient to read from a text, in which case there are a number of techniques that can help.

c. For the version to read, type it and print with a large font size (12, 14, or 18-point font) and use multiple narrow columns, use subheads (not to be read), use ellipses to mark pauses, and bolding to mark words, phrases, or entire sentences that require extra emphasis.

d. When reading, position your printed page high and away from your body, use gestures, and use facial gestures even when you are facing downward because forcing yourself to generate appropriate facial gestures will bring your vocal variety alive.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid.

CCQ206.06.09. Among the statements a-d pertaining to body language and posture choose the one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. Body language (non-verbal expression) is a powerful form of communication and a speaker’s posture influences not only the listener’s assessment of the speaker, but also the behaviour of the speaker.

b. Never try to “fake it” when adopting a pose that presents you in a more powerful position.

c. Eye contact conveys confidence.

d. Engage with your face.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid.

CCQ206.06.10. Among the statements a-d pertaining to eye contact choose the one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. Avoid direct eye contact with people who you do not know personally.

b. Eye contact impacts one’s ability to connect with an audience and, by extension, one’s effectiveness as a speaker.

c. Bill Clinton describes his technique as “I picked one person in the audience, and I had a private one-on-one conversation with that person for a full thought, and then I went to another person in the audience and I really looked at them and I held a private conversation with that person for a full thought.”

d. Nobody expects you to sustain eye contact for an entire 60-minute seminar but be sure to elevate the effectiveness of key lines by making sure you are looking at your audience.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid.

CCQ206.06.11. Among the statements a-d pertaining to voice projection and volume choose the one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. Projecting one’s voice at the appropriate volume enhances one’s effectiveness as a speaker.

b. Find a volume that everyone can hear and stick to it.

c. Vary the volume throughout because speaking for any length of time at the same volume (whether loud or soft) puts people to sleep.

d. Emphasize target words or phrases by speaking louder or softer (as appropriate) and mirror emotional content with volume changes.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid.

CCQ206.06.12. Among the statements a-d pertaining to speech pauses choose the one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. If you do pauses right, nobody is conscious of them, but your ideas are communicated more persuasively.

b. If you do pauses wrong, your credibility is weakened, and your audience struggles to comprehend your message.

c. Appropriate lengths for pauses (from a fraction of second to several seconds or more) will vary considerably based on your speaking style, the nature of your message, the duration of your talk, your audience, and cultural norms.

d. Pauses should be used consistently so that, for example, comma pauses (however long they are) should be shorter than paragraph pauses.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid.

CCQ206.06.13. Among the statements a-d pertaining to eliminating filler words choose the one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. Filler words such as um, uh, and you know are natural and add authenticity to presentations.

b. Persuasive speakers avoid using filler words.

c. Repeated and excessive use of fillers weakens your credibility, because it may be perceived as indicating lack of preparation, lack of knowledge, or lack of passion.

d. Fillers are inserted when our brain needs a moment to catch up to our mouth so to avoid fillers, raise your level of preparation, and/or slow your pace to make it easier for your brain to keep up.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid.

CCQ206.06.14. Among the statements a-d pertaining to controlling uptalk and like choose the one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. Uptalk, a way of speaking that puts an upward inflection on the last word of a statement that makes it sound like a question when it’s not, and the frequent use of like are natural and add authenticity to presentations.

b. Persuasive speakers avoid uptalk and excessive use of the word like.

c. Use of like can be reduced by pausing when you would typically insert “like.“ Vocalized pauses are just filling places where you don’t have anything to say. So, each time you anticipate saying “like,” pause instead. This approach works for other vocalized pauses, such as: “um,” “er,” “ah,” and “you know.” Pausing, rather than saying “like,” has the added benefit of making you sound more confident and authoritative.

d. When you’re giving a quantity that you’re not sure of use about, approximately, or roughly rather than like to indicate that you’re guessing or approximating.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified on 19 April 2017.

Image: High School Presentations, at http://learni.st/users/ann.vaseliades/boards/2180-high-school-presentations, accessed 21 January 2016.