You have a really good idea, but you know its going to take some convincing.
Here are five suggestions on how Aristotle persuaded people:
1. Ethos/Character. Make sure people know why you are interested in this topic – and that is bigger than just you. This is not just “your pet idea.” This is an idea that is going to make a difference – for the organization, and for real people. If you are speaking with a group of people who know you, then the trust and respect you have built with them over time will be vital. If the people do not know you, then give personal examples why you care about this issue.
2. Logos/Reason. Create a chain of logic from identification of the issue to the reasons your solution is a winner. Use data, facts, evidence, and reason. Start with an outline to make sure that your logic chain is clear. Share this with an objective advisor who can give you feedback. You will often miss some steps because they are “obvious” to you.
3. Pathos/Emotion. Aristotle believed that persuasion was not possible without an appeal to emotion, and this was best done with storytelling. You need to know your audience and what they will care about. Tell them a story that they will connect with.
4. Metaphors. Add metaphors and analogies to your story which, Aristotle would say, provide “verbal beauty” to your talk. Warren Buffett once said that healthcare costs were like a “tapeworm” eating away at our economy. Newspapers used the word in their headlines of his talk.
5. Brevity. Attention will wane. Get to your strongest point as early in the talk as you can. Remember that less is more. Continue to go back to your outline and cut out fat that may not be needed. Remember the KISS principle: Keep It Simple Sweetheart.
The good news is that persuasion can be learned. If possible, have a few trusted colleagues observe your talk and provide feedback for improvement. Aristotle believed that successful communicators could unleash human potential and maximize happiness. Make that your vision!
*Ideas for this blog taken from: Gallo, C. “The Art of Persuasion Hasn’t Changed in 2,000 Years,” Harvard Business Review online, July 15, 2019.