Deprecated: mysql_connect(): The mysql extension is deprecated and will be removed in the future: use mysqli or PDO instead in /home/a26f9f83/public_html/articles/includes/config.php on line 159
How to Become a More Persuasive Speaker: A Systems Approach > NetSparsh - Viral Content you Love & Share

How to Become a More Persuasive Speaker: A Systems Approach

There is no surer way to get ahead in business than to be a persuasive speaker. However, because public speaking is normally found at the top of lists of fears in the United States, many business people, especially engineers and other technical specialists, fail to make the effort to become better speakers, and thus fail to reach their potential.

In my judgment, as one who has delivered hundreds of presentations and trained thousands of business and government executives, there is no skill easier to learn, with greater payoff, than mastering the art of persuasive speaking.

So how can business people and technical specialists add the weapon of persuasive speaking to their business skills arsenal? By developing a systematic, not haphazard, method to plan, practice and present--the same systematic method they use in their day-to-day work.

A systems approach is the ideal way to draft and deliver a presentation or speech.

Surprisingly, however, few people apply the very discipline they use in their business when it comes time to stand and deliver. In this article, I want to share with you the systematic method I teach in my executive workshops and in my book, "The Shortcut to Persuasive Presentations."

Why should engineers, IT specialists and other technical experts bring the same systematic approach to speaking that they bring to their work projects? For the simple reason that being able to express yourself is the best way to stand out from the crowd. The famed management expert Peter Drucker once wrote that

"The ability to express oneself is perhaps the most important of all the skills a person can possess."

Effective, persuasive communication is the transferring of information from your brain to the brains(s) of your audience in such a manner that this audience - one or many - accepts your information as its own, and now realizes the benefits of accepting the information you are presenting.

This requires focus and an in-depth knowledge of what motivates your audience so you can direct your message to hit these hot buttons. It also requires the ability to anticipate objections and questions the audience may have, and the discipline to practice realistically.

An imperative for any oral presentation is structure. The presentation must be logical and easily followed by the audience. Thematic unity, useful in a written essay, is absolutely necessary in an oral presentation. The young Winston Churchill, in his 1897 essay, "The Scaffolding of Rhetoric," emphasized that the audience must know where they were being taken by the speaker on this oratorical journey. His famed speeches in World War ll suggests he followed his own advice.

To be an effective speaker, you must certainly know your stuff. That is almost a truism, although there are many people with more audacity than judgment who stand before a group with far less knowledge than prudence would dictate.

The majority of people who are called on to present, however, are substantive experts, and therein lays an essential problem. They believe that their knowledge is sufficient, and they need not devote any attention to delivery skills. Big mistake

In my "Presentation Skills in Nutshell" workshop for executives, I teach an easy-to-learn-and-internalize system to develop and deliver a coherent and persuasive presentation. I call it the S3P3 System. Turn on you mental PowerPoint and visualize three Pillars supporting a Pyramid. The Pillars are labeled Substance Structure, and Style, and the Pyramid is divided into three parts-Planning, Practicing, and Presenting

Let's first examine the Pillars, and then we'll climbk the Pyramid.

Mastery of the subject is an vital for any speaker. You must have a clearly defined objective and focused research. This does not mean only compilation of factual data. You need an active and comprehensive knowledge of the subject at issue in order to respond to challenges from the audience, especially if the audience may be predisposed to disagree.

Only a solid grasp of the subject matter can save a presenter when confronted with an unexpected question or objection from the audience. However, Substance without Structure or Style can make the presentation an incoherent, boring recitation of data.

The human mind possesses a certain data-processing logic. The speaker who is aware of how people process information, and how new data are either accepted or rejected, can learn to structure a presentation so as to facilitate comprehension.

The knowledge of the audience's self-interest, or "What's in it for me?," is an essential tool for structuring a presentation so it hits the target of the collective mind of audience members.

This is the most frequently-ignored pillar of the speaking art by substantive experts, possibly because it has the connotation of show business. By Style, I mean word choice, body language, eye contact, movement, and vocal quality.

Style is that almost indefinable quality of a speaker that causes audience members, even those opposed to the issue being "sold," to listen, not be bored, and to open their minds. Another word of caution: Style without Substance can expose the speaker to the charge of being shallow.

Now, let us take a look at the three levels of the Pyramid:

Planning is the wide base required of any stable structure and any good presentation. It is the single most important building element of any presentation. Unfortunately, most presentations are done with an inverted Pyramid as the model, with the narrow base indicating little planning, thus placing all the weight on the presentation. This lack of planning frequently results in poor presentations.

Good business sense dictates that the same effort which goes into the development of a product, policy, or service be devoted to the presentation whose purpose is selling this product, policy, or service. The planning stage is where the presenter develops a game plan and point of view for the presentation.

An important part of the planning process is gathering Audience Intelligence - information about the concerns, problems, attitudes, and expectations of that group of people you are about to face in your presentation.

Because the speaker needs to mesh his or her objective for the presentation with the audience's needs and concerns, the more time spent on strategic planning, the easier will be the actual presentation.

If planning is so important, why is it frequently ignored? Perhaps because time is the enemy of all, and there are such demands on our time that few people are ready to literally sit down and think. If they do so, however, they gain maximum advantage from a minimum investment of time.

After you have completed the planning stage, you are now ready to start practicing. This is an orderly means to internalize the presentation. You will take some of the apprehension out of the experience by anticipating reactions, comments and questions and developing appropriate responses.

An important tool in practicing is conducting a "Murder Board," a realistic simulation of the presentation in front of a suitable audience, e.g. colleagues, relatives, friends, who can put your knowledge to the test. (I have posted other articles on this extremely important aspect of practicing. I bring it to the field of presentations training from the military, where it is a staple of briefings.) In this simulation,your mistakes won't count because if you fail you can go back to the planning stage and make the necessary corrections.

Your confidence zooms when you have gone through a practice phase that enables you to say: "I know this subject better than anyone in the audience. I want them to take their best shot, because I'll be able to answer any question thrown at me!" That is the attitude you want to carry with you to the presentation.

Finally, you reach that apex, the actual presentation. This is the payoff for the time you have spent assuring you have included all the required substance, placed within a structure that facilitates audience agreement, and comprehension of the position you are advocating, done with the style most appropriate to make your presentation memorable and successful.

If you have (1) done the planning, to include audience intelligence collection, and developed a focus that meshes with audience members' needs and concerns, (2) then practiced with focus, to include an intensive simulation enabling you to anticipate questions and objections, you are ready for "show-time."

Always keep this model of the three Pillars supporting the Pyramid in mind when drafting a presentation, and you will be able to deliver logically structured substantive knowledge with persuasive power.

Copyright 2005 Larry Tracy

This article is excerpted from Larry Tracy's book, "The Shortcut to Persuasive Presentations," available for purchase through PayPal at his website. A retired Army colonel, he was called "an extraordinarily effective speaker" by President Ronald Reagan. He has been cited in numerous publications as one of the top presentations trainers in the US. His website is #1 on Google for "persuasive presentations, and he will be on the cover of the July 2005 American Speaker magazine.

In The News:

This RSS feed URL is deprecated, please update. New URLs can be found in the footers at


Why Women Say No To Public Speaking
“What do you mean, they say no?" The young woman tech founder I was speaking with looked aghast. “Yes,” I told her. “According to the event managers we've surveyed, when asked to speak at conferences and events, women say no almost 50% of the time.

Get better at public speaking with this Halloween Open House
Jonathan Boschen joined us to preview the Speakeasy Toastmaster's Halloween Open House, and also challenge us, per usual, to an icebreaker challenge. This event will be Wednesday, October 17th at 7:00 pm. It will be located at 20 North Maple Street in ...

Business News Daily

Tips for Conquering Your Fear of Public Speaking
Business News Daily
Public speaking is a naturally anxiety inducing task for many people. It's no secret that presenting in front of a group of colleagues, potential clients and other professionals can be intimidating. However, public speaking doesn't have to be a ...

Public speaking lessons
“Many people can identify with a feeling of crippling nervousness when faced with public speaking. As you stand to speak, your heart begins to race, your mouth goes dry and you wonder whether the words you rehearsed will ever make it out of your mouth.

Houston Public Media

Houston Teacher Wins World Championship of Public Speaking
Houston Public Media
Public speaking comes easier for some than others, but there are places where it's actually a competition. That includes the Toastmasters International World Championship of Public Speaking, where thousands of contestants from all over the world compete.


Don't Abolish In-Class Presentations, Teach Students To Enjoy Public Speaking
It was mandatory because learning the art of public-speaking is no longer an option to succeed in the 21st century; it's fundamental. Educators who I've met across the Middle East, Europe and Asia, say they are elevating the art of public speaking to a ...


4 Remarkable US Presidents Shared This Public-Speaking Skill, Per Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin
I marked more than 50 references to the public-speaking skills which made Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson exceptional communicators. Goodwin chose these four presidents for their resilience, grit, humility, energy and ...

and more »


Own Your Stage: Five Strategies For Overcoming Your Fear Of Public Speaking
Time and again, when asked what their biggest fear in life is, many people overwhelmingly list public speaking near or at the top of that list. If you're terrified or intimidated by the prospect of getting up in front of a large audience, don't worry ...

Financial Times

Public speaking is no more than a confidence trick
Financial Times
For what it is worth, my own experience is that the only way to get any good at public speaking — be it speechmaking, broadcast work or a conversation on stage — is to endure being bad at it until you stop being scared. The first few times I ever ...

and more »

Popular Science

This training helps you become a confident public speaker
Popular Science
For many of us, delivering a presentation to a packed house is a daunting prospect. But public speaking is one of the best ways to open career doors or sell your product. If you want to improve your pitch and overcome your fears, the Public Speaking ...

Google News

SOS - Goal Setting

... --- ... SOS This is the traditional seafaring emergency... Read More

How to Get Started In Public Speaking

Public speaking is among the five most feared activities human... Read More

Getting Yourself Known

What are the 5 best ways of getting known in... Read More

Boost Your Confidence, Credibility, and Career

There's one skill you can develop that will boost your... Read More

Ten Steps to Fearless Public Speaking

There is plenty of dubious material which suggests you can... Read More

The Porch Light* Method to Speaking Confidence

You know the feeling. Looking out at a sea of... Read More

Using Your Natural Style On Stage

We were both speakers at the same convention presenting on... Read More

What Makes A Great Presenter?

Every day millions of people around the world make a... Read More

Foreign Translations of Your Talk - How Do You Ensure Your Message is Delivered Properly?

There are a number of possibilities as to how this... Read More

Public Speaking Tips: Lessons From Former US President Ronald Reagan

If you want public speaking tips, what are the ten... Read More

Internet Marketing and Public Speaking: Seven Steps to a Successful Murder Board

I recently posted an article providing tips on public speaking... Read More

Knowing Your Boundaries

While delivering a speech, it is clear that we will... Read More

10 Tips for Better -- and Less Scary! -- Public Speaking

The fear of speaking in public is well-documented, often discussed,... Read More

Dont Judge an Audience by its Stare

Don't Prejudge A Situation: In the areas of emotions and... Read More

15 Tips For Making A Great Speech

1. Listen to your internal dialog. 2. Visualize a positive... Read More

Voice Coaching - Training Your Voice to Give Better Presentations

Picture a cool crisp autumn morning in the wide open... Read More

Earn Your Cs as A Speaker

Franklin Delano Roosevelt had some good advice for the public... Read More

How to Answer Questions Your Audience Will Ask

In elementary school, most of us asked questions which were... Read More

Public Speaking Tips: The More You Know, The More It Will Flow - Tips For Knowing Your Audience

The more you know about your audience, the better your... Read More

Speak to Be Heard and Understood

Use your voice to your advantage. One of your main... Read More

Talk May Be Cheap but Your Speech Should Be Priceless!

Take a moment and imagine if you will any one... Read More

Get Speaking

On a recent Sunday evening, I watched a friend 'graduate'... Read More

How to Gracefully Leave After a Seminar or Speech When Someone is Hogging Your Time!

Meeting planners know the value of meticulous planning. They are... Read More

If You Arent a Little Nervous, You Arent Paying Attention

The fear of public speaking is one of the most... Read More

Directing Voiceovers: Dont Be, Do!

Directing a voice-over talent you've hired to read a spot... Read More