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3 Unspoken Rules That Make You More Persuasive, According to Aristotle

Though he lived over 2,000 years ago, Aristotle still remains one of the world’s most influential thinkers. The Greek philosopher contributed his ideas to nearly every area of study imaginable, including economics, logic, biology, ethics, and eloquence. On the subject of persuasion, Aristotle believed that the most persuasive public speakers adhered to 3 unspoken rules, which he put forth in his famous Rhetoric work and are outlined below.

They think about their audience over themselves.

Before delivering a pitch at work, you might find yourself worrying about how your pitch will be perceived and whether your boss will like what you have to say. According to Aristotle, these things can detract attention from your message, in turn making it hard for you to reach your audience members. So, reframe your focus to the people who are listening to you speak. Ask yourself what the point of your speech is. Are you hoping to inform, entertain, or inspire? Consider who will be in attendance and how you can make your message more meaningful to them. By removing yourself from the equation, Aristotle writes, you’ll be able to eliminate a lot of performance-reducing anxiety.

They make their audience happy.

No matter how much you care about the subject of your talk, the subject at-hand pales in comparison to what your audience thinks about and prioritizes: their happiness. Aristotle knew that audience members weren’t keen to listen to a speech without mentally picturing what matters most to them – which, in most cases, isn’t the product you’re pitching, but their quality of life and how to improve it with increased wealth, a boost in health, and so on. While we don’t recommend throwing away your speech outline to talk about health and happiness, we do suggest that you consider how your speech can demonstrate care for your audience members’ lives and how to improve it.

They speak in terms that the audience understands.

No matter how long or short your message, you must ensure that it doesn’t fall on deaf ears by employing language that your audience members understand. Aristotle says that it all goes back to credibility. “When speakers behave inappropriately,” wrote Aristotle, “their credibility is questioned — even when they speak the truth.” So, be sure to “behave appropriately” with the right mix of terminology and examples. Using a few real-world examples that your audience can relate to will make a world of difference. You should also be aware of your body language and dress and ensure that neither distracts from your message.

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