Presentations need a purpose. Often the purpose of a presentation is to persuade, influence or sway the audience into a decision, way of thinking or action. So what are the keys to making more persuasive presentations?
PERSUADE is a useful acronym that highlights the main components of persuasive presentations.
- P – Pathos relates to emotion. Belief in your message is key, so we need to see enthusiasm and passion from the speaker. The speaker also needs to focus on how they want their audience members to feel. Do you want to excite them? Make them wary? Provide peace of mind? Use of emotive adjectives in your language such as ‘devastating’ or ‘optimistic’ can create the right mood. Emotive visuals such as pictures of people exhibiting the emotion you’re trying to evoke, problems you’re trying to solve or desirable outcomes will all serve to enhance your message.
- E – Ethos relates to your level of credibility. Are you believable? Do you look confident? Can you back up your claims with facts? If you are not perceived to be credible, your audience will quickly switch off.
- R – Repetition. Saying something more than once not only gives it impact, it also helps your audience remember your key points. You can pepper your presentation with the same phrase eg. “I have a dream” or repeat things to give them impact eg. By the end of your lifetime, if you were born today, none of the ice caps will be left, none, zilch, zero! In addition, you can use the rule of triples. People like to hear reasons or examples in groups of three eg. The good, the bad and the ugly, red, white and blue.
- S – Statistics and facts support your message. Do your research and use information that provides proof and evidence to support your case. Statistics are a great way to add interest and enhance your credibility too.
- U – Use a direct address. Try and avoid vague statements like “some people might think…” and instead, opt for ‘you’ language. This direct address of the audience demonstrates you are talking specifically to them and want them to engage eg “you might think…”
- A – Anecdotes/Action. Persuasive presentations often contain personal stories or anecdotes about the subject matter. They bring the topic to life and make it easier for the audience to relate. They also contain imperatives to take action. Persuasive presenters ask their audience to do something as a result of their presentation – make a decision, show their support or change their behaviour for example.
- D – Direct questions. Persuasive presentations involve the audience. They are interactive. You can ask for a show of hands if the audience is large, ask real questions to gauge understanding or support, or ask rhetorical questions to get the audience to think about what you’re saying before you give them the answer eg. Why do we do it this way?
- E – Expert opinion. The last element for persuasive presentations is using the opinions of a topic expert, this way the opinions have credibility. The expert could be yourself if you are highly skilled or knowledgeable in the area.
Using some or all of these elements in your presentations will make them much more influential. Click this link to access more tips.