We found a massive source of inspiration from an article by Gregory Ciotti in Copyblogger, which lists the five most persuasive words in the English language. Each of the five words listed is backed with research studies that prove its power. Wouldn’t it be great if the language we chose affected the outcome of our presentations? What if a single word could make the difference between getting investor funding and missing out on a huge opportunity?
For a presenter, the use of these words may differ slightly. For instance, the word “free” might not always fit in perfectly with a keynote speech, while it could thrive online in ad copy. That in mind, we want to highlight each of the words used in the article, and then show how you can effectively use them inside of a presentation rather than in other kinds of copy.
Since Ciotti put in the hard work to prove each of these words as persuasive, let’s dive into their application for presenters!
Addressing the audience is a way to personalize content, no matter where it lives. It is conversational, it reaches across boundaries, and it gets our attention. When you hear the words “hey you!” you turn around and look for the source. In a presentation, including this word both in your slides and your spoken narrative will bridge a connection to your audience, and add to your persuasiveness.
Are you struggling to answer the question “what’s in it for me?” when thinking of your audience? Nothing solves this problem quite like a “because” statement. While we don’t necessarily recommend putting “because we said so!” on the text of your slides, you should definitely include an explanatory statement like “because of X” while you deliver the deck. It will give your audience a clear piece of proof to understand what they’re getting out of the talk.
Steve Jobs was a huge fan of this word in all of his presentations. Why? Because “new” evokes positive change. “Under New Management” sounds like a promise. So does “new and improved.” Sprinkle this word generously throughout your written and spoken content, unless of course, nothing “new” is actually a part of your presentation.
Again, another favorite word with Steve Jobs and plenty of other world famous speakers. According to Ciotti, our psychological need for instant gratification comes into play when trigger words like “immediately” or “fast” are used. Take some inspiration and use “instantly” to describe your process, your product, or a customer’s experience where applicable within your presentation.
Use the word “free” sparingly throughout your presentation, as it can sometimes evoke a used car salesman when overused. While fine in web copy, you don’t need the word “free!” to grab eyes and attention when you’re already speaking in front of an audience. Our recommendation is that this persuasive term should only be used when appropriate, and never be a part of the crux of your presentation unless it is significant and not merely an attention grab.
If you haven’t read Ciotti’s full article, we recommend you take a second look to learn some of the psychology behind these terms. And if you’re even more interested in becoming an expert at persuasion, check out these related articles from our archives!