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Workable Theory of Persuasion

There is a difference between persuasive and informative speeches or talks. Unlike in informative speeches, a persuasive communicator aims at convincing his listeners to agree with his views. Persuasion is an important element of communication especially when there is need to getting a task done since getting people conform to one’s ideas and concept can be a difficult task. However, through effective persuasion, many people have been able to get their ideas accepted by others. Persuasion can either be convincing and acceptable or propaganda. This means that even though people might buy one’s ideas, the aftermath can be problematic when it is discovered that the persuasive information was not true. Thus, the communicator needs to identify the essential elements that will make persuasion appealing to the listener or the receiver of the message. This paper is a discussion of the essential elements of persuasion as discussed by Hauser in Introduction to Rhetorical Theory.

According to Hauser (2), human communication can be a challenging task especially if the communicator does not know how to use language and symbols effectively in order to pass across the intended message. One of the important parts of communication, and which requires mastery, is the ability to persuade the interlocutor on the message that is being communicated. As such, persuasive communication differs with other forms of communication because it requires convincing or even altering the prevailing point of views to conform to one’s own views. That is, it is a way of convincing the listeners to change their ways of thinking and accept that of the communicator. Thus, persuasion aims at influencing the way of thinking of the listeners and provides them with a reason why they should believe one’s message.

It is advisable for a persuasive speaker to understand the context and the kind of information being communicated because not all situations require persuasion. Equally, trying to apply persuasion in every situation will only exacerbate the views of listeners or interlocutors to the contrary. For instance, it would be undesirable for a speaker on budget speeches or technical presentation to use persuasion to convince the listeners because such kind of presentations require facts only, which might even be beyond of the speaker. Thus, understanding the context is important as far as the convincing and connecting aspect are concerned. For instance, in sales and motivational speeches, the speaker can employ, and indeed must employ persuasion if he is to win people’s attention (Hauser, 12).

Essential Elements of Persuasion

According to Hauser (32), a persuasive speech must always possess certain elements that are vital in convincing the listener. First, a persuasive speech must be appealing to the moral beliefs and values that are identifiable with the interlocutor. Once the values are in tandem with the message of the information, it is easier to convince the listener because he or she can identify with the moral of the message. Morally, the listeners need to be convinced that the facts presented in the information are far from false and present a universal truth that is identifiable with their values and beliefs. The third important element is the aspect of convincing power. A persuasive speech must be able to leave the listeners that the facts presented provide the best solution to the problem at hand. A presenter may therefore even include the element of argument to prove that there is only one solution to the problem and that that solution is contained in the information he/she is presenting. That is, persuasive speeches only have one option and the speaker does not attempt to suggest other options even if they knew that such possibilities existed.

However, other essential elements associated with persuasion that are not related to the message directly exist and the speaker needs to be aware of these elements. Notably, they are evident in contexts where the speaker is physically presenting the information to the listeners. These elements include the effective use of body language and voice intonation, which are essential when making an impression to convince.

Understanding voice intonation and body postures helps in connecting the listeners with the message. Similarly, facial expressions must exhibit knowledge of the message beyond doubt to allow it add the necessary weight to the message being conveyed to the listeners. In the same manner, use of relevant voice intonations ensures that the audience is not lost during the presentation. Hauser (32) observes that a persuasive speech should thus be loud enough, without yelling, and clear to be comprehended by the listeners.

Moreover, persuasive communication aims at making powerful mental pictures in the minds of the listeners. This can be achieved through the use of charts, photographs, or even sentences that can bring mental pictures in the minds of the listeners. For instance, "each day, in many parts of Africa, thousands of women continue to experience hardship in accessing water, some walking a distance as far as 20km,”  this particular kind of presentation makes the listeners to connect with the devastating situation in those parts and thus can choose to act on that message (Hauser, 35).

Similarly, the mode of delivery of a persuasive speech is important especially in the way words are spoken and spaced. It is central to getting the listener to understand the message. As such, persuasive speech should not be too slow to bore the listener or too fast for the listener to remain guessing on what the probable meaning of certain words and phrases could be. This will ensure that the listener has enough time to synthesis facts and allow them to sink. The mode of delivery signifies the amount of care that the speaker has attached to the information or facts that he or she is passing across.

Consequently, Hauser (15) indicates that gestures are vital part of persuasive communication. He however warns that they should be used sparingly to avoid overuse effect where the audience becomes accustomed to the next gesture that the speaker is going to use. To this end, gestures should only be used in the right time to accentuate very important emphasis and to attract the attention of the listeners towards that fact. As a spice up to the gestures, emotions can be used especially if the speaker understands how the listeners interpret each situation. Additionally, the speaker needs to be real and avoid insincere and hilarious expression, which can be easily detected by the listeners. Thus, it is important for the speaker to avoid fake and unmerited jokes that do not contribute to the reinforcement of the message. Emotions should also include the use of normal voice projections that are void of exaggerations and inflections that contribute to putting the listener off.

As a way of building trust, persuasive communication must aim at enhancing the credibility of the information that is being communicated. Credibility will go a long way in making the listeners believe and connect with the message, thus the speaker through building credibility convinces the listeners that he or she is an expert in the field that is being presented. Credibility is created through use of examples and experiences that point to the inner and personal involvement in the topic of discussion. For instance, a presenter can use sentences like, “during my short stint at the University, I was able to establish a club that championed the rights of physically challenged students…..” Such a presentation shows that the speaker has experience in the area that he or she presenting to the audience (Hauser, 10).

The speaker also needs to embrace affirmative speech and avoid use of words that point to a likelihood such as maybe, possibly, and might. As such, the use of words that expression a conviction will go a long way in enhancing the manner in which the message is received by the audience. Additionally, first person sentences are important in getting the audience understand and buy the message that is being communicated. This in a way helps the listeners to have all reasons to believe that the speaker has the solution to the problem at hand (Hauser, 15).

Finally, persuasion speech need to have a powerful conclusion that invites the listeners to take immediate actions rather than pondering on the message communicated. The speaker should avoid introducing new message, which might contradict the already communicated ideas as well as those, which threatens to make the listeners reconsider their conclusions. As such, conclusion of a persuasive communication should indicate clearly the next action and urge the listeners to take step in the wake of that message.

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