4 Ways to Boost Your Ability to Persuade

For a presenter, few moments are better than feeling you have the audience in the palm of your hand. And few are more painful than feeling the gulf between you and your listeners getting wider and wider.

Here are 4 ways to boost your ability to persuade that seem to guide the great speakers I’ve seen recently, whether they’re talking about a vision for the company or the rollout of a new ad campaign.

1. Answer the question, “Why?”

When I started out ...

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Story, Story, Story!

We never get tired of stories.  We read them, watch them, listen to them and tell them every day of our lives.  We even tell them to ourselves.

I think science has established that we are not the only creatures with language, or the only creatures that use tools, or dance.  But so far, I think it’s safe to say that we are the only creatures who tell stories.

Telling stories in conversation comes naturally.  But writing and ...

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10 Commandments of Great Business Presenters

  1. Define a problem that your audience faces.  Then solve it.  The human mind tends to fixate on problems: rubber-necking is a case in point. Presentations about problems have both emotional and intellectual appeal.  The problem, well-defined, elicits our feelings; the solution elicits our thoughts.  Everyone has problems, so why not tickle, then soothe their anxieties.   Talk to them about what keeps them up at night.
  2. Make the familiar, new, or the new, familiar.  Bring a new perspective to an old ...
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PowerPoint Slides: A good technique

Sophisticated presenters introduce the next PowerPoint slide before they leave the current one.  They do this to orient the audience to what is coming next.

For instance, they might say at the end of their budget slide, “So our marketing budget is 10% greater than last year, and the main reason for this is the new competition in the market.”  And then CLICK! They go to the “competition” slide.

But many of us have trouble remembering what PowerPoint slide is ...

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Welcome to the game

On a train to New York, I saw a man unpack a portable electric guitar, assemble it, plug earphones into it, and begin to play.  He was sitting at the window with two people packed next to him.  No one heard a sound.

On the way out of the train, I asked him how long he’d had the instrument.  “About a year,” he said.

“Are you a professional?” I asked.

“No, I’m a lawyer.”

I said I was a crude folky taking lessons, and ...

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The fourth wall or not

Over cigars and Chivas on Sunday night with Dikki Ellis, Michael Christensen and Zach Grenier, we came across an interesting distinction between clowning and acting, and one that is helpful to business speakers.

Michael is a Co-Founder of the Big Apple Circus and the Founder of the circus’s Clown Care Unit.  Dikki is a senior member of that troupe, and a well-known clown and educator.  He is also one of my oldest friends.

Zach, on the other hand, ...

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