5 verbal techniques to keep your audience hanging onto your every word

Frankie Kemp

26 August 2019

As tech becomes more integrated with business, soft skills such as presenting to non-technical audiences have become crucial.  According to Deloittes ‘2018 Global CIO Survey’ influencing others was among the top 4 skills that contributed to leadership success – way above ‘solving complex problems’.

With Generations Y and Z expecting a more inclusive culture, communicating and persuading are key.  For this reason, you may find a team of coders managed by someone with a Philosophy degree.  Heck, even the coders may have graduated in a Liberal Arts degree, if degrees are even all that relevant any more for a teenager who can break into NASA’s servers in their sleep.

The research backs up the fact that technical specialists with honed presentation skills – a crucial tool of influence – will earn more and be more persuasive.  Basically, they’ll find their way a lot smoother than some graph muncher who puts up bar charts, smugly stating, “and you’ll see the revolving Venn diagram clearly speaks for itself…”

Most presenters forget the key reason to speak to others is to persuade, changing minds – and hearts: a change that results in action.  Learn how to engage with your audience by using magnetic language during your next presentation: or whenever you need to convey ideas to others.

Here are 5 verbal strategies for you that will keep your audience hanging on to your every word…



1. Use the anti-climax climax

For example, tell a story where you describe challenges and difficulties and how you overcame them.  The result, which needs to be a real POW!, is delivered almost as a ‘throw away’.

For example: 5 minutes after a ‘difficulty story’,  then end with “…and that’s how I wiped out a one hundred thousand pound debt.  A year later, I’d made my first million.”

(dramatic vocal tone change)

“However, the point of the story is not to talk about me but to tell you how you can…”

Your audience will still be thinking of thatfirst sentence.  Because you haven’t laboured something which might seem so amazing to the audience, they’ll still be taking it in.

2. Anticipation

“And later I’ll show you the secret sauce that will help you increase your orders in half the time… “(you’ll have dangled the carrot, here)

(15 minutes later…)

“In a minute I’ll show you the quickest way to boost your orders.  And I bet you’re not using it now…”

(5 minutes later)

“I said I’d show you how to maximise your orders and it’s here…. ” (they eat the carrot, here).

3. Challenge

Tell people to switch off or leave if they’re not interested in something that will benefit them.  The important element of this technique is to name the actual benefit, which I’ve underlined below.  Ensure the advantage fits the customer needs.

“If you not interested in the simplest and cheapest way to slash vendor costs without sacrificing quality, then I advise you to switch off to the next section.”

Your audience of, say, Finance Directors and Procurement Managers, will be saying to themselves, “Of course I need to listen to this section!”

4. Negative Rhetorical

This is similar to the challenge as it contains the audience need, which I’ve underlined below.  However, it’s framed as a question with the preceding phrase “Why wouldn’t you….?”

“Why wouldn’t you want a supplier that you can trust to provide a top service?”

And…why wouldn’t they?

5. Analogy

When you use analogy, you’re saying one thing is like another, translating the unfamiliar to the familiar.  This is really key to avoid off-putting technical jargon and instantly creates a relatable rationale for action.

You could say, “If the cipher strength of your browser is inadequate, you’ll not be able to enter websites.”  Basically, this means that the website thinks your shifty: if you upgrade your ‘security pass’ – which, is like acquiring an updated swipe card from HR – you’ll get in.   That’s an example of an analogy, drawing a parallel between a security pass and cipher strength.


Your Action

  1. Think of a specific meeting, presentation or an initiative you want to start.
  2. See yourself in that situation now.
  3. Decide which one of these 5 verbal moves you can use during the encounter.


If you think avoiding these words and phrases will improve how people pay attention during meetings, then look at my communication training courses, or storytelling courses for tech and business. These courses explore how language and self-expression can also improve your presenting skills in meetings. To discuss how I can help you or your people, contact me today: no obligation to buy.  Let’s chat to see if I can support you.

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