In the article “The 6 Best Techniques for Communicating Clearly and Persuasively, According to a Speechwriter for Top CEOs” by Scott Mautz, he says, “There’s no one in business who can’t benefit from being skilled at communicating clearly, crisply, and in a compelling fashion. Whether you’re giving a keynote to 9,000 people or presenting a recommendation to nine people, communication skills count.”
And as we all know, relationships matter in the mortgage industry. Truly persuasive, impactful communication is a skill that’s learned and earned. And Simon Lancaster, one of the foremost speechwriters for politicians and CEOs in the world, has learned and helps others to do the same.
His TEDx talk on clear and compelling communication (especially in speeches) is provocative, with smart advice for upping your verbal voracity. Here are six keys to persuasive communication that you need to know:
1. Use fast and furious sentences.
Lancaster cites the phenomenal acceptance speech that Barack Obama gave in 2008, where he was firing off sentences that were a mouthful, like “Even as we celebrate tonight, we know that the challenges tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime: two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century.” The short, clipped sentences mimic how we communicate when we’re in a hurry and are helpful in stimulating a sense of urgency with the audience.
2. Follow the “Rule of Three.”
The other compelling thing about the Obama example is that he names three challenges. We’re used to things in threes. Three supporting points for a recommendation, three selling points to convince us, death comes in threes…(notice I just used three points to make my argument).
3. Use the power of juxtaposition.
In one of my keynotes I use a line to grab leaders’ attention about the power their words and actions hold. Of this I say, “You can plant seeds of growth, or seeds of doubt.” Audience members always feed the line back to me afterwards. Lancaster calls this using “balanced statements” and says it triggers an underlying presumption that the thinking behind the statement must also be balanced, and our brain likes balanced things.
4. Use metaphors.
Caveat: Make them simple and easy to understand. A good metaphor illuminates the point you’re trying to make in a way 1,000 words can’t match. In one of my keynotes, to illuminate the power of a leader choosing to be liberal in granting autonomy to employees, I compare it to the process by which power flows through a light bulb (a light bulb will flicker at best if you give it only a bit of power, as will a high-wattage employee).
5. Use exaggeration that’s clearly exaggeration.
Lancaster leaves the technique at just the power of exaggeration, but I think it’s critical to clarify that it must be understood that you’re exaggerating.
Over-the-top sentences echo how we speak in everyday life, says Lancaster, which makes them well accepted. He gives this example: We say we love pizza, but of course we don’t love it the way we love another human.
6. Try a rhyme.
Lancaster says audiences learn concepts through rhymes. He cites the famous case of Johnnie Cochran’s defense of O.J. Simpson, “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” Lancaster calls this approach a “pleasing informational snack that sticks in memories like a musical earworm.”
Whether you’re giving a State of the Union address or addressing five employees, clear, compelling communication counts.
Michael Hammond is the founder and president of NexLevel Advisors. NexLevel provides solutions in business development, strategic selling, marketing, public relations and social media. A seasoned technology executive, Michael brings close to two decades of leadership, management, marketing, sales and technical product and services experience. His expertise spans start-ups to multi-billion dollar corporations, running businesses, business units, marketing, sales, strategy and product and services organizations. Michael brings exceptional insight, leadership, passion, and strategies that create profitability.