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The 12 Most Persuasive Words in the English Language

All effective presentations change the ways people think or act. Think about it—even if you are “just” presenting data, you’re doing it for a reason. You want people to use the data to change something!

Every effective presentation persuades the listener. Certain words persuade people more effectively than others.

Going back to 1963, expert speakers have identified these twelve words as the most persuasive in the English language. Try using one or two in your next presentation, and watch for changes in how people react to your message.

1. You: Personalize your speech so that your listeners feel you are talking directly to them. (Example: Ask, “What does this mean to you?” and stick in a benefit.)

2. Discovery: What an exciting and enthusiastic feeling from childhood this conjures!

3. Easy: Your audience wants more ease in their busy lives. What can you offer?

4. Guarantee: Remove the feeling of risk. Make people feel safe. (Which brings us to:)

5. Safety: This word conjures comfort and eases people’s fears.

6. Save: Everyone loves to save money and time. Make the most of this word!

7. Health: Your listeners gravitate toward self-preservation. See if you can make a connection to your topic.

8. Love: Don’t overuse it. It’s one of the most powerful words when you know what your audience loves the most (Family? Security? Safety? Income?)

9. New: Freshness, innovation, change…people like new “stuff.”

10. Proven: The opposite of ‘new,’ this word ensures us that we are not taking risks. Be sure to back this one with data.

11. Results: What people will get, how they will benefit. Very powerful!

12. Free: Don’t forget the different definitions of this word: not only free of charge, but also freedom of movement and choice. This word gives the hope of liberation and expansion.

ALL these words involve emotion. Don’t be afraid to use them, as emotion is the key to persuasiveness.

Learn about Guila Muir’s Presentation Skills Workshops.

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