Influence and Persuasion

Instantly Make your Presentation More Persuasive

My American speech coaching colleague, Craig Valentine, accurately says “when you are in speaking you are in sales”. No matter what your role, and regardless of whether you are simply informing your audience and sharing your expertise or you are actively and consciously attempting to persuade them you need to use language that will influence their thinking and actions.

To help you influence your audience below are five words that you need to incorporate in your presentations to make your ideas more influential and persuasive. The research for the persuasiveness of the words originates from headlines for blogs and articles article by Gregory Ciotti. While Gregory is focussing on article headlines their effectiveness will apply equally to the spoken word.


We all love personalised and customised solutions. We detest the idea of having a generic solution that everyone else has. Which is why the word “you” is so powerful – it allows us, as speakers, to personalise our message.

I mentor all my clients to think about a presentation as a conversation. Every audience member needs to feel that the speaker is having a one on one conversation with them – even if there are two hundred other audience members in the room. This requires, you as a speaker to really examine your phrasing. Are you asking questions and addressing aspects of your presentation in the same language as you would if it was one on one conversation.

Hint: look for phrases where you use the word “we”, “how many of you”, etc… Any time you identify you are talking to a collective group rather than an individual consider how you would phrase the statement if you were speaking to an individual in a one on one conversation.


We all enjoy getting something for free. If you can highlight something that your audience is getting for free as a result of what you are presenting to them they are more likely to invest into your ideas. In his Copyblogger article Gregory refers to a fascinating study that highlights how people react to a free offer.

The study involved offering people the opportunity to buy a Lindt chocolate ballroom 15 cents or a hersheys kiss for 1 cent. Seventy three percent chose to buy the Lindt chocolate ball for 15 cents.

But, when the prices were altered the results changed dramatically.

The Lindt Chocolate ball was reduced to fourteen cents and the Hersheys Kiss was offered for free. Suddenly the survey respondents abandoned the Lindt Chocolate balls and headed for the lower quality Hersheys Kisses. Only 31% took the Lindt Chocolate (compared to 73% previously) and 69% now opted for the Hersheys Kiss.

As humans we have a loss aversion, so if there are opportunities for you to identify and offer free things during your presentation your pitch – your ideas and solutions will become more persuasive.


We do things when we believe there is a reason. Studies have shown that the reason does not need to strong. Often the mere fact that a reason “exists” is enough.

In his book, The Psychology of Influence, Robert Cialdini illustrates this with a study that examined peoples behaviour at a photocopier. The study involved people trying to jump the queue at a photocopier. When the queue jumpers offered no reason they were allowed to queue jump 60% of the time. Yet, when they added the phrase “because I ‘m in a rush” they were allowed in 93% of the time!

“Because I’m in a rush” hardly stands out as a strong rationale or reason.

When you are delivering your call to action and asking people to do something as a result of your presentation if you can add a “because…” you are more likely to see the results you are chasing with your sales presentation.


We live in a fast paced world, and whilst we know that “good things come to those who wait” we are all seduced by the thought of instant gratification. If you can illustrate how the audience members situation will change “instantly” by adopting your idea or viewpoint the chances of them accepting your proposal will increase.


Novelty and excitement go hand in hand. There is an energy that is associated with new ideas and concepts, particularly where you can illustrate that there is a competitive advantage to be gained with you new ideas and concepts.

During your presentation take the opportunity to highlight any new features, concepts, or ideas to your audience to make the pitch more persuasive to them. This will get them more excited and enthused about your presentation – and make you more persuasive in the process.


The five words above tap into the psychology of human behaviour. When they are appropriately utilised they will enable you to increase your influence and persuade your boss, your staff, or your clients to invest into your ideas, your products, or your services. Please share your experiences when you have included these words into your pitch.

About The Author

Mark Kyte

Mark Kyte is a public speaking mentor and founder of the Public Speaking Skills Academy. Mark loves helping clients achieve dynamic results that help them increase their influence and get more clients. Read more of his blog and if you like what you see check out the mentoring programs.