It's that big moment... you've stepped in front of an audience and you have a limited time in which to persuade them to think or act differently about your subject. But how do you 'close the sale' in a way that also feels natural? Here's your persuasive speaking routemap.
In part one we’ve talked about Authenticity, part two moving From Sleazy Selling to Authentic Allowing, and part three was all about Finding the Right Words. The last in our four part series on persuasive speaking is all about how you close the sale.
Let's start as we mean to go on - with the attitude of persuasion. Imagine that from the very first word, you are closing the sale. That's how it is in reality. If you want to influence people, it starts from the beginning of your talk, rather than being something that's tacked on at the end.
Closing the Sale Step 1: Enrol people to journey with you
The first words you say have the possibility to open people up to being persuaded by you:
- What’s credible about you? If you don’t believe in yourself and your message, the audience won’t either. Let them know exactly why they should listen to you and what qualifies you to discuss this topic. Feel your credibility on an inner level. Without going into extensive detail, don’t drone on about all the letters after your name, give them your excitement and your zest for the topic in a way that invites them to really listen to your expertise.
- Why would people want to go on the journey with you? Are you a good tour guide, able to interact and tell stories and provide interest along the way? Would YOU like to travel with you? Confidence in yourself will breed confidence within the audience.
Closing the Sale Step 2: Tell a story of ‘good’ and ‘evil’
Next, it's time to build a journey that takes your audience from their current situation to the brilliant new place you know would benefit them:
- Build contrasts: Tell a story of the world with your solution versus the world without it. Contrast backwards and forwards between the problem and your solution, raising the stakes as you go. Allow your audience to become engaged and anticipate how YOUR solution will change the world. This is the impression that will allow your audience to truly remember your ideas.
- Personal stories always work well because… they’re about YOU and your experiences and something that you can speak freely about. The more passionate you are, the more persuasive you'll be.
E.g. “I wanted to be more confident… so I tried something and failed, tried something else and failed, tried for the last time using this particular method and finally succeeded. This is the method I now want to share with you…"
- Be creative and authentic about the persuasive stories you tell, or it will come across as dry and uninviting… or worse yet insincere.
Closing the Sale Step 3: Use the right kind of evidence
If you tell your audience "This is a really great product / idea" it will have one impact. But when we start to show our audience how great our product or idea is, we leave room for them to be persuaded by our words. Look for a good balance of evidence to support your argument:
- Just enough logical evidence: A few well placed statistics can be very persuasive as they add legitimacy to your argument. But don't make the mistake of needing to justify everything you say - most audience members will switch off from too many 'hard facts'
- Emotion brings connection: In the end, your audience are human beings just like you, so the most persuasive words will be authentic and emotional. Look to connect your difficulties to the difficulties your audience may face.
Closing the Sale Step 4: Powerfully ask for the 'sale'
The most important aspect of persuasive speaking, that also feels the most difficult is to 'close the sale'. Before you wrap up, make sure that you allow yourself enough time to clearly state what you want your audience to do next.
This is the 'bungee jump' moment where people have the most fear. But remember - you have been passionate and authentic. Your audience feel connected to you. By now they like you and your message. What will serve them in this moment is not for you to say "Thanks very much" and scuttle off the stage. What will serve them is for you to powerfully ask them to change their behaviours.
Some key persuasive phrases:
- I am incredibly passionate about this and I would like to invite you to join.
- It goes without saying that this topic is important to me and here’s why it should be important for you too...
- I simply want you to be a part of this.
- I truly see how this will benefit you.
- If you want to xyz, then I believe this is the place for you.
Test these out for yourself and see if you can authentically see yourself saying them. If the answer is “NO WAY!” then find a way of expressing yourself persuasively that will feel right. Remember, it’s all about your belief in your message and ultimately… you.
Closing the Sale Step 5: Stand in your full power
Once you have asked for the 'sale', it's the force of your self belief that will show your audience that you really mean it. A truly persuasive speaker will stick to their message, even if nobody else seems to agree.
This is the moment where you get to change the world. And it's your belief, your confidence and your good intention that will allow that change to happen.
It's time to become a warrior
Stand in your full power to close the sale by:
- Leaving silence after you've made your request. It's time to stop talking and leave space for the audience to agree with you. Most often it's too much talk rather than too little that loses the momentum of persuasion.
- Grounding yourself in your body so that you signal to the audience "I'm not budging". If the speaker has a solid presence, (as opposed to a whole load of fidgets in the body), they will be more convincing.
- Giving permission to break rapport: Sometimes people need to be told a tough truth in order to make a change. Be willing to say something unpopular so that in the long term your audience benefit.
- Trusting that you're benefiting: Enjoy this moment, because this is your chance to change someone's life.
That's the final piece of the Persuasive Speaking jigsaw puzzle. Now's your time to get out there and start speaking persuasively!