Persuasion Presentation Techniques: Beggars Will Not Get Choosers

Staging Your Persuasion PresentationThe last step of persuasion is the delivery, according to Cicero, a famous Roman who lived from ~100 -43 BC,  who created the Five Canons of rhetoric.

  1. Inventio (Invention or creation of ideas)
  2. Dispositio (Arrangement of the ideas)
  3. Elocutio (Style to attract your audience)
  4. Memoria (Memorization of the material)
  5. Actio (Delivery – including body language, vocal variety, etc.)

Beggars Will Not Get Choosers

I’m sure you’ve had the experience of begging your parents for a favor.  That particular gift, that special opportunity… when we don’t have logos and ethos working for us, then pathos only may lead to begging.

Why doesn’t begging work?  Because you’re lacking the things that make your request reasonable and acceptable for me to agree.

Once my son and I were visiting a flea market.  He saw a cheap bow and arrow set at some vendor’s stand and immediately, he wanted it.  Believe me, it wouldn’t last past the first arrow launch, but at age six, he didn’t know that.  I didn’t want to spend the money, so we walked away.  My son didn’t say a word, but tears started to fall down his face.  Talk about persuasion!

When I asked him why he was crying, he said, “I don’t think they’ll be here the next time we come.”

Yes, I bought the bow and arrow and yes, it broke within hours.

Why did I change my mind?  Because he made a very rational point along with body language that convinced me emotionally that wasting $4 on a toy wasn’t a bad idea.  Well, it was, but I was persuaded by his:

  • Ethos:  Not challenging my authority, but asking me respectfully.
  • Logos: Giving a very valid reason for why the purchase needed to be made now.
  • Pathos:  demonstration of his deep desire in a physical way.

Our challenge in giving a speech to persuade others is to tie up all three of these into our points.

Your Eyes:  Persuasion Tools

Eyes are the windows of our souls, say the poets.  There are entire fields of study of eye movement and eye contact – when we believe people; when we think they’re lying.  Teenagers tend to master the eye-roll pretty quickly – a sign of contempt or frustration.  What we have been working on is eye contact with the audience.  It’s very important that everyone in the audience thinks you’re talking to them.  This is why I’ve discouraged you from using notes when giving your speeches:  when people are looking at papers, they’re not looking at the audience.

Handing Your Audience Your Ideas

What do you do with your hands when you’re asking a question?

There’s no right or wrong answer to that.  It’s just what you do.

Should you do it on stage?  Let’s try it today and see!

Posture and Positions

What do you think is the best position to convince someone?  On your knees?  Sitting down?  Standing up?

It depends on your audience.  Kneeling is an ancient position of supplication (asking for a favor) but these days, we tend to prefer standing.  But if you think that going down on your knees will help you sell your speech to the audience, you can experiment with it.  Your audience may laugh at you, so be careful how you use this.

Using the whole stage helps you reach your audience.  You should have three distinct points you want to make in this speech, so consider standing in a different place on the stage for each of them.  This will take some time for you to decide how to stage your speech, but it’s worth the work.  It looks professional to move around on the stage, so you’ll be more persuasive.

Vocal Variety Sells Your Ideas

We don’t want you crying up there, but where can you change your voice to convey the passion and desire you have for your ideas?


Relax!  I don’t require you to memorize your speeches in this class.