Part Two: Persuade Your CEO

In my last blog, I presented some visual strategies that will increase your persuasive power with upper management, no matter what department you work in, and no matter how little time your are given to make your case. I focused on how you can build belief visually. In today’s blog, I will offer a few tips for building belief with your voice.First, some background information. In his article for CLO Magazine, Kevin D. Wilde (VP and Chief Learning Officer at General Mills) suggests that, when you have just a few minutes to win over the CEO, it is crucial to make your message “executive crisp”. Although Wilde’s strategies are useful, they fail to address two key ingredients in the art of persuasive speaking: visual and vocal impact.My response is supported by the findings of a Harvard Business School study: only seven percent of the success of business speaking is based upon content. A full ninety-three percent of the impact that business speakers make is based on their visual and vocal impact: how they deliver their message to build belief within the listener.The vocal component of your presentation is crucial. Be sure that your vocal “performance” supports the value of your ideas:1. Vary your pace: when you begin, speak slowly; when you come to information that is less important, increase your pace; when you come to your most important points, pause and then slow down.2. Vary your pitch, and be sure to end your statements with a pitch glide downward (not upward, as we do when asking a question).3. Whenever possible, rehearse what you are going to say by glancing down briefly at note cards. Internalize your content; don’t memorize it. Pick a spot on the wall to direct your eyes during rehearsal, and never practice with a mirror (it will distract you from your message and from the audience you should have in your mind, and it will keep you focused on how you look — a poor strategy).No matter how many minutes upper management can spare, your best content will have persuasive power only when your visual and vocal performance convey your own conviction, poise, and passion.

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