What are tips to convince an audience

Rhetoric tips: How to convince your audience as a speaker

Time and again in life there are situations in which you have to speak in front of an audience and give a lecture or speech. Whether as a presentation at school, as a greeting at a wedding, in the festive setting of a company anniversary or in a professional context, for example as a supervisor or expert - speakers are repeatedly faced with the challenge of gaining the attention of their listeners through rhetoric, content and arguments to transport and to achieve a thrilling and convincing effect as possible. Read here tips about the perfect and engaging speech and how you can improve your rhetoric point by point.

Convince with rhetoric: preparation and structure are the be-all and end-all

Prepare yourself well for a discussion - then it will also work with positive rhetoric © UfaBizPhoto - Shutterstock

Ideally, you will not be thrown into the deep end unprepared, but will have the opportunity in advance to work out the speech and structure your thoughts in a meaningful way:

  • How do you get off to a good start that arouses sympathy and attention in the audience at the same time?
  • What is the aim of the speech? Which arguments speak for this goal, which counter-arguments can one put forward and how can these best be refuted?
  • Which key messages should the audience remember if possible?
  • Are there examples or metaphorical images that can help illustrate your own statements?
  • How can an appropriate arc of tension be built up and maintained through rhetoric, creating as coherent a framework as possible at the beginning and end of the speech?

All of these aspects need to be taken into account when developing a successful speech. Whether the interwoven anecdotes are humorous or whether you should choose them seriously depends largely on the occasion, content and audience of the speech: The bride's father will want to appear differently in the speech at his daughter's wedding than in his professional role as a team leader.

Basically, however, the following applies to every lecture: A good structure is the be-all and end-all. Arguments that coherently build on one another, exemplary stories or metaphors that are taken up several times and a final chord that ties in with the starting point can all contribute to the speaker's words to give a much stronger and more lasting effect. In addition, you can create an impression in a lecture or speech with the number symbolism.

The 3 pillars of Aristotle's rhetoric

Preparation and structure are important. However, knowing the rhetoric is even more important in order to reach the audience. Take a moment to get to know the pillars of rhetoric and apply them in your speech preparation.

The "inventor" of the three pillars is Aristotle. He was one of the most famous philosophers in history and exerted enormous influence. Aristotle lived in the 4th century BC.

Aristotle named the 3 pillars of rhetoric:

Logos: This term stands for the argument and the facts. Whenever you make a statement in the speech, you should always be able to back it up with facts. For example, a document or statistics that you can present to the audience using media such as a projector or beamer are suitable for this. You should always formulate your speech in a structured and goal-oriented manner.

Pathos: This term refers to the listener's emotional state. The speaker asks himself how one can convey emotions, beliefs and values ​​to the listener. This works best with examples that are presented vividly and graphically. Go one step further and put yourself in the shoes of your audience. This is how you notice what is important to you. And that's exactly where you grab your audience. Nothing works better than the emotional level to deliver a good speech. Always be committed and credible.

Ethos: The speaker's authority and credibility are associated with this term. In contrast to the logos pillar, in which facts have to be proven, convince your audience with your "possible" knowledge. People tend to believe other people if they are credible in their statements. Ethos is the “clean slate” or the trustworthy character of the company. It is enough to convey to the audience of your speech that what you are saying might be true. Convince your audience.

5 cornerstones of modern rhetoric

Even in the 20th century, the three pillars of Aristotle's rhetoric have not been forgotten. Over the years the foundations of rhetoric have been increased and so two additional parts have emerged that have gained in importance in the handling of rhetoric. It is important to bring arguments and facts to the table, to reach the audience and to convey credibility. However, two very specific aspects are missing that round off the picture of rhetoric.

The first cornerstone that has been added is the voice. Without this you cannot communicate with the other person. The voice is an extremely important tool, especially in speeches, lectures or discussions. Different voices express emotions. In order to use the voice correctly in rhetoric, one should always speak clearly and intelligibly. Mumbling or swallowing words because you are speaking too quickly is not an option in a speech in which you want to reach an audience. If you have deficits in this regard, exercises in speaking technique help.

The second cornerstone that has been added over time is the body. Your body is always talking - this fact is called body language. This non-verbal communication takes place at all times, whether in combination with what is spoken or without. In order to be effective in a speech, a lecture or a presentation, it is not a matter of discussion to always appear self-confident and to shine with naturalness.

Now you know the 5 cornerstones of modern rhetoric and can apply them when writing a speech. If you internalize the 5 points, you can safely say that you will reach your audience and their emotional level.

Awaken feelings in the audience: the beginning and the end are crucial

Regardless of whether a lecture should last five minutes or an hour - the beginning and end of a speech are of essential importance for its effect on the audience. The first sentences decide whether the audience will snap up the thread and turn to the speaker with interest - or whether they will switch off after just a few words, bored. If you don't win your audience within the first three minutes, it will be very difficult to reach them later.

The same applies to the end of a speech: ideally, the beginning and end should form a frame. Tip: As a speaker, take up what was said at the beginning again and rearrange it based on the arguments presented in the meantime. Those who conclusively link the starting point and the end point of a speech increase the chance that the audience will also remember the way from A to B, the intermediate steps in the chain of arguments.

Quotes on the rhetoric of famous people

Rhetoric quote from Mark Twain: "A good speech has a good beginning and a good end - and both should be as close together as possible."

Rhetoric quote from Augustine, Bishop of Hippo: "What you want to ignite in others must burn within you."

"Oratory is the most comprehensive art."

Rhetoric quote from Aristotoles: "Therefore it is necessary to use artistry without you noticing it, and to make the speech appear as natural rather than manufactured - namely, this makes it believable."

Rhetoric quote from Cato the Elder: “Rem tene, verba sequentur.” In German: "Master the matter, then the words will follow

Rhetoric quote from John F. Kennedy: "A good speech is like a bikini - short enough to be exciting, but covering all the essential points."

3 tips on rhetoric and speech formation - tailored to the audience

A good speaker picks up his audience where it is - and then takes them to his side by convincing them with well-presented lines of argument. It is important to match the style and level of the speech language to the audience: Anyone speaking in front of a group of professors should choose different words and sentence constructions than someone giving a speech in a beer tent. The level of abstraction and metaphor of the formulation should be selected accordingly in a differentiated manner.

In case of doubt - or with a mixed target group - you should avoid tapeworm sentences and complicated foreign words. Instead, it is advisable to formulate short sentences in simple words and to support your own statements with pictures or examples that come as close as possible to the reality of the audience. In this way, they are more likely to identify with what has been said and create an individual connection - the topic of the speech thereby gains relevance for them personally.

Tip 1: Rhetorical stylistic devices - as in the past in German lessons

You can also formulate specific (rhetorical) questions or suggestive questions to encourage the audience to think about the topic of their own. There are a number of psychological tricks in the field of rhetoric that can help steer the audience in the desired direction or make the arguments presented more convincing.

On the other hand, filler words should be avoided, they distract too much from the actual content and make the speaker appear incompetent or dubious if they are too frequent. Instead, the same applies to a good speech as to a good school essay in German lessons: With the help of rhetorical stylistic devices, a dry or less pleasant message can also be conveyed well. Whether as an appellative speech intended to encourage the audience to take certain actions, or simply as a mood-setting device for private or business celebrations - the convincing effect of every speech is reinforced by cleverly chosen rhetorical figures.

Tip 2: Climax, anaphor and co. Help speakers and listeners alike

A popular and widely applicable rhetorical stylistic device, for example, is the climax. The argumentation is built up in stages, increasing from the insignificant to the significant. With this agenda in mind, the structure of the speech is easier to set up in advance - and at the same time it becomes more exciting for the audience to follow it.

Statements that are underlined by repetition also remain significantly better in the ear. If several sentences start in a row with the same words, one speaks of an anaphora - this stylistic device not only gives the statement more rhetorical weight, but also ensures a speaking rhythm that (again) catches the attention of the listener.

The stylistic device of parallelism works in a similar way, in which several successive sentences are structured identically or similarly. This, too, creates a rhythm that helps the listener to better internalize what is being said.

Tip 3: A confident appearance allows arguments to have a stronger effect

But not only the choice of words is decisive for whether a speech is remembered by the audience. The appearance of the speaker himself, his speaking technique and intonation can also influence the effect of the presentation - positively as well as negatively. Anyone who enters the stage as a nervous fidget or looks embarrassed at the floor appears insecure and neither convinced nor convincing. On the other hand, if you step in front of your audience confidently and with an upright gait, do not shy away from looking into the faces of your audience and present your arguments fluently and with a firm voice, you appear confident and are better able to win the audience's favor.

Exercise regular rhetoric in front of the mirror © Dean Drobot - Shutterstock

As is so often the case in life, when speaking in front of an audience, practice makes perfect. However, if you want to get a message across and reach people, you don't necessarily have to attend costly and time-consuming rhetoric seminars. Instead, there are tips and tricks that you can easily practice at home in front of the mirror or with someone you trust, such as a family member or work colleague.

This includes, for example, getting used to the sound of your own voice and finding out which volume and speaking speed are appropriate in order to be heard and understood well. You should also present the finished speech aloud at least once in order to identify any stumbling blocks such as unintentional tongue twisters or to determine at which points in the lecture you can take meaningful pauses in order to let what has been said have an effect. These breaks should be chosen deliberately, long enough - but not too long so as not to appear too artificial.

To get a feel for this, it can be helpful to count for about two seconds in your mind. Anyone who also has the option of underlining their own speech with graphics or images - for example through a presentation or a photo show - can also use these aids specifically to structure the structure of the lecture and to set pauses at meaningful places.

Speeches in front of an audience - the fine art of rhetoric

Lectures and speeches in front of an audience - no matter what kind - make many people nervous. Nevertheless, they are part of the high art in communication and rhetoric. Speeches by charismatic politicians or corporate bosses have shown again and again what power that cleverly coordinated and confidently presented words can develop. Famous speakers from John F. Kennedy to Steve Jobs - if you manage to convince with good speech, you will be remembered for a long time, and in the best case not only as a fascinating person, but also in terms of the content conveyed.

Editorial team talkingwelt.de