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3 Little Tricks That Will Make You Sound More Authoritative

3 Little Tricks That Will Make You Sound More Authoritative

Have you noticed how some people seem blessed with the ability to convince with their words? They are confident and powerful speakers – who know how to successfully deliver their messages. Unfortunately, for most of us, we don’t naturally have these skills. For example, when called on to speak in a team meeting, we may find ourselves stuttering our words, drifting from our core message, and generally sounding weak and ineffectual. Fortunately, there are several techniques you can use to instantly boost your credibility and authority.

1. Present both sides of an argument

Recent consumer psychology research has shown that two-sided arguments are more persuasive.[1] This may seem counterintuitive, as presenting only one side of a story would appear to be the obvious choice when looking to persuade people.

However, by presenting both sides of an argument, your audience will believe that you’ve studied your subject carefully and meticulously. They’ll also know that you’ve chosen your personal preference only after looking at all the facts.

A great example of this can be found on websites such as AliExpress, Amazon and eBay. These global, online retail giants encourage customers to rate products and services, and give feedback – good or bad. By offering this feature, people considering a purchase can quickly determine if a product or service is suitable for them.

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This system works perfectly. Picture the alternatives:

  • No ratings or feedback allowed
  • Only positive ratings or feedback allowed

Clearly, neither of these would be effective.

So remember, to persuade your audience to your point of view, be sure to present both sides of an argument.

2. Give key information at the start of your presentation

Are you familiar with a concept known as the “primacy effect?”[2] If not, here’s what you need to know.

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The primacy effect states that information given at the beginning of a sequence has a stronger and longer-lasting impact than information presented later. In other words, to have the most impact, you should place your key messages and benefits at the start of your presentation. By doing this, your audience will immediately perceive your information (and you) as being favorable, helpful, and instructive.

Of course, you don’t want to give all of your key information right at the outset, but just enough to catch your audience’s attention. If your presentation is broken down into sections, then start each of these sections with strong ideas and memorable stories.

By starting strongly, you’ll boost your self-confidence, while at the same time magically captivating your audience.

3. Remove the phrase “I think” from your sentences

A common problem with ineffective presenters is that they often begin sentences with the phrase: “I think…”

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In day-to-day conversations, this phrase is perfectly acceptable and normal. However, if you want to be a persuasive communicator, then you should definitely drop “I think” from your sentences. It’s all about sounding clear and decisive.

As an example for you, which of the below sounds the most convincing?

“I think our product is of high quality and has good value.”

“Our product is of high quality and has good value.”

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It’s obvious isn’t it? The second example goes straight to the point, and oozes confidence and strength, whereas the first example leaves a feeble impression.

Whenever you need to present information, adopt the three tips above to make yourself sound compelling and authoritative. Audiences will grasp your information quicker and easier. And they’ll also remember the key takeaways for far longer.

Try it and see for yourself.

Reference

More by this author

Craig J Todd

UK Writer who loves to use the power of words to inspire and motivate.

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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