What Are Two of the Most Persuasive Words in Speaking?

Speaking to CEOs and Executives in Sri Lanka

Speaking to CEOs and Executives in Sri Lanka

Average speakers get a good response, but exceptional speakers get their audiences to take action. Exceptional speakers help change lives long after they have finished speaking and that’s why they get rehired time and time again.

How do speakers become exceptional? They learn the tools that prompt their audience members to go beyond listening and to take action. Here is one of my favorite tools to help you do just that.


Persuasive Tool: “Most People”

Listen to the following 1-minute audio (from very early on in my speaking career) where you’ll hear two of the most persuasive words in speaking.

The two most important words you heard were “Most people.” You can use the term “most people” to get your audience to take action because of the following truth:

Most people do not want to be most people”

The words “most people” are extremely influential because, if used correctly, they immediately create a comparison between something the audience does not want to be (or have) to something they do want to be (or have). For example, once they get the message about “most people living on get set,” they immediately want to avoid being placed in that category. Then the key is to give them a way to avoid it.

Compare and Contrast

One of the greatest ways to get people to take action is to use the compare and contrast method in many different ways. For example, for years Zig Ziglar compared being a “wandering generality” to being a “meaningful specific.” Once we realize that most people are wandering generalities, we immediately desire to become a meaningful specific.

This worked so well for Zig Ziglar because it simultaneously moved us away from what we did not want to be (a wandering generality) and moved us towards what we did want to be (a meaningful specific). This method pushes and pulls you at the same time.

Look back at the first sentence of this post. What does it compare? It compares average speakers to exceptional speakers and then gives you a way to be exceptional.

Be a Bridge-builder

In speaking, you want to create a bridge between what the audience doesn’t want (to be average) and what they do want (to be exceptional) and then let them know the way to cross that bridge (i.e. 3 keys, 4 steps, 5 Cs, etc.). This is a wonderful way to set up your message because you’re heeding the following valuable speaker advice:

Tease them before you tell them”

Use Variations of “Most People”

This method works extra well when you are even more specific about the type person. For example, I have seen members of my Inner Circle for Speakers use terms such as “Most engineers” or “Most students” or “Most parents…” Based on who is in your audience, these terms might connect with them deeper because they identify as such. 

Questions for you for your next speech

Here are a couple of questions you can ask as you prepare to give your next speech. These can help you use the “most people” line to get them to take action.

What do MOST PEOPLE do that your audience should avoid doing?

What aren’t MOST PEOPLE doing that your audience should do?

You can also ask the same about how most people think or how most people are, etc.

NOTE: If you don’t feel comfortable saying, “Most people (because you haven’t conducted a scientific survey with slopes and standard deviations and percentages of failure, etc.),” you can say “Many people.” However, that will lose some of its power. Why? It’s because that sounds like something most people would say.





Craig Valentine

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