The art of persuasive communication

The art of persuasive communication Conor Neill

The art of persuasive communication
Conor Neill

Conor Neill, programme director for a new programme from Smurfit Executive Development at the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School on this month entitled ‘Influence and Persuasive Communications’, provides ten tips that differentiate powerful speakers from the rest.

Practise beforehand

Rehearse out loud. Work to control filler words. Use a clock to check your time, and allow for the unexpected.


Know the set-up

Arrive in advance to check out the speaking area, and practice using the microphone and any visual aids.


Know your audience

Try to speak to one or two people as they arrive – they will be your allies during the speech.


Start with a grabber

This can be a personal story, a quote from an expert, a shocking statistic – something that hooks your audience and creates a personal connection with the topic.


Relax and visualise your success

Knowing your audience calms your nerves, as it is easier to speak to friends than strangers. Opening with a personal anecdote creates the right emotional atmosphere.

Imagine the applause to come. Picture yourself at the end of the speech surrounded by these people asking interesting questions.


Speak with intent to move people to action

Know what you want your audience to do immediately after hearing your speech. If nobody does anything different from what they would have done before you spoke, then the value of your speech is zero.


Pause for thought

Include three to eight second pauses at key moments – just before key statements or just after a story. This draws the audience in.


Don’t apologise

The audience probably never noticed the small gaffes that seem so big to you.



Look like the content matters. If the audience does not feel it is important to you, then it will be much harder for them to feel that it should be important for them.


Keep getting more experience

Take every opportunity you can get to speak and listen to other speakers. Experience builds confidence, which is the key to effective public speaking.


More information on the Influence and Persuasive Communications programme from Smurfit Executive Development at the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate School of Business taking place from 14-16 January can be found here

Sorcha Corcoran