How to Give a Persuasive Presentation

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Your big presentation is coming up, and you suddenly find yourself wishing for Professor Xavier's X-Men power to sway the minds of others. Instead, maybe you should be brushing up on the techniques required when giving a persuasive presentation.

Things You'll Need

  • Cassette Tape Recorders
  • Video Cameras
  • Full-length Mirrors
  • Index Cards
  • Choose a topic near and dear to the hearts and minds of your audience. A persuasive presentation must appeal to your audience's emotions, urge action on a topic that is important to them, or present a case against another viewpoint in an attempt to sway the audience your way.

  • Analyze your audience to determine subjects that are likely to personally affect them. You know, for example, that a presentation on the abolition of Medicare and Social Security is more likely to reach an audience of AARP members rather than those gathered at a high school pep rally.

  • Grab the audience's attention immediately in your introduction with an emotional appeal, a startling statistic or an evocative example that illustrates your issue clearly.

  • State the facts of the problem you are trying to solve, a distorted truth you want to dispel or a situation that begs for the attention your audience can offer. Use statistics, facts and as many quotes from experts as possible to lend credibility to your argument, energize your audience and get them poised for action.

  • Propose a solution to each specific part of the problem you presented. It is important to show that the problem can be solved and that all you need is the help and support of every audience member.

  • Create a vivid mental image for them of two possible futures. First, paint them a picture of the way things will be if they help out; and second, let them have a look at the possibilities if they don't offer to be a part of the solution.

  • Issue your call to action. Make your final appeal an emotional one that will get them on their feet in support of your cause.

Tips & Warnings

  • Employ good public speaking skills in your presentation. Use proper grammar, make eye contact with audience members and speak in a lively, conversational style to keep your audience engaged throughout your presentation.
  • Practice in front of a mirror or video camera so you can define any presentation skills you need to work on, like eliminating nervous twitches, stuttering or wringing clammy hands.
  • Hit them where it counts. Thoughts and emotions are different for everyone, but if you can make your issue dig into their pocketbooks, you are more than halfway home; money is an almost-universal motivator.
  • Get your hands on a tape of Elizabeth Dole speaking at the 1996 Republican Convention in support of her husband, Bob Dole. This was a "no-holds barred," successful persuasive presentation.
  • Don't take too much time to present your case. Even the most effective speakers lose their power and pizzazz after an hour and a half.
  • Skip the slides and overheads. Typically, when the lights go out in the room, they also go out in the minds of your listeners.

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