The most persuasive words to use when presenting - Speaking Edge

The most persuasive words to use when presenting

Your words matter. A single word can change someone's mind, often without their awareness.

Certain words are proven to be more powerful and persuasive than others.

Those speakers that know how to convincingly use these words have an instant advantage.

Discover which words have the most persuasive power....


The power of words

For decades, marketers have crafted advertisements convincing us to buy their products. They use persuasive and powerful language to influence our behaviour.

It is no coincidence that specific words are used again and again. It's because they work. These power words are remarkably effective at influencing us, even when we are unaware of it.

Compelling words can strengthen your message. They can convince people to buy into your ideas and products.

Here are some of the most powerful and persuasive words you can use in your presentations.

"Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate, and to humble."

-Yehuda Berg



As with all humans, your audience are primarily focused on themselves.

For your message to have impact, you need to have their full attention. 

The best way is to let them know right from the beginning how what you have to say will benefit them. You have to answer the question that everyone is asking "What's in it for me?"

That makes "you" the single most convincing word you can use when speaking.

Too many presentations are focused on I/we/us/our. They start off with I am so and so, I work for blah, blah, we specialise in etc etc. We're here to talk about our product blah blah! The audience invariably have to wait for the "any questions?" at the end before there is any focus on them.

When coaching speakers, I often ask them to change the words and emphasis from the "I/we/us" to "you/your".

It is quite remarkable how switching the emphasis of what you say from "I" to "you" can be. You'll be amazed at the impact this can have on your audience. It grabs their attention and demonstrates empathy with your listeners. It makes them far more receptive to your messages.

Try using the names of some of your audience members as you present as well.

Studies have proven that hearing your own name makes your brain light up. It instantly makes you pay attention and therefore become more engaged and receptive. 

“A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” 

-Dale Carnegie



An amazing experiment from the brilliant book 'Influence' by Robert Cialdini explains why the word 'because' is so powerful.

The tests examined different types of request to use a photocopier ahead of people waiting to use the machine. It's aim was to measure their willingness to allow this person to jump ahead in the queue.

In the first test, the participant simply stated:

“Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?”

From this request, around 60% of people allowed him to jump in and use the machine first.

In the next scenario, the request was tweaked. This time the participant said:

“Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?”

Do you see the subtle difference between the two?

Amazingly, around 94% of people allowed him to jump ahead in the queue. Thats an increase of over 30% from the first attempt.

That's an enormous impact for such a minimal change. Not only that, but the “because” (his reason) is hardly convincing! “Because I’m in a rush”! Aren't we all in a rush these days! Nevertheless, lots more people were happy to comply.

If you think that’s surprising, take a look at the 3rd request :

“Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?”

In this scenario, around 93% of people let the person jump the queue.

An even weaker reason for jumping in, if that's a reason at all, and yet still 33% more people allowed him to push in.

According to Cialdini:

"A well known principle of human behaviour says that when we ask someone to do us a favour we will be more successful if we provide a reason. People simply like to have reasons for what they do."

What does this mean for us as presenters?

In my experience, too many presentations are focused on the "what" and the "how". They miss the all important "why'.

It's the "why' that provides the vital answers. It provides the deeper connection with your audience, with their sense of purpose, their values and beliefs. The "why" is the motivating and persuading reason.

Your "why" should answer the audience's question "What's in it for me?". It should be a core message of your presentation.

Words that create a sense of curiosity 

Influential speakers create a sense of intrigue or a curiosity gap throughout their presentations.

Mysteries and knowledge gaps are powerful tools for speakers as they create a need for answers.

If you cannot awaken the curiosity of your audience, your message will never stick.

Words that surprise your audience and help develop a desire to know more include:

  • Discover
  • Imagine
  • Learn
  • New
  • Surprising
  • Remarkable
  • Startling
  • Astonishing 

Imagine how powerful it would be if you could learn a new way of presenting. One that has your audience hungry to discover more about your ideas and products. You'll be astonished at the remarkable impact that you could have.

Words that offer rewards for little effort

Most of us lead busy lives. That means that we are less likely to make a decision or follow a new course of action if we have to invest a lot of time and effort.

It's really powerful when you can suggest ideas that result in immediate benefits for very little input or disruption.

Persuasive words that support this message include:

  • Easy
  • Immediately
  • Quickly
  • Effortless
  • Instantly

Of course, if you're using these words you must be able to deliver. Fail with that and you risk alienating your audience. That is very difficult to recover from.

But, if it's easier to make a decision, or your listeners can quickly and effortlessly try something new, you'll instantly get more of what you want.

About the Author Paul Lucas

For over 20 years, I’ve been helping leaders, managers and sales teams get better results by improving their communication and influencing skills. My training is founded upon extensive research and analysis. Helping you to understand the specific behaviours, techniques and strategies of the world’s best speakers and influencers provides the platform to transform your presentations and sales skills.

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1 comment
Mari says April 7, 2020

Your comments are to the point and easy to use. Thank you.

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