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Six Tips to Speak Like a Leader

This article was based on the TEDxVerona Talk, “Speak Like a Leader,” by Simon Lancaster: 


Speak like a leader | Simon Lancaster | TEDxVerona


Simon Lancaster, one of the world’s top speechwriters, shares with the audience the techniques leaders use to deliver impactful speeches.  Writing powerful speeches is about carefully choosing words and understanding how they will be delivered.


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The secret language of leadership is based on the ancient art of rhetoric.  This topic has lost its importance over time and is only taught to a powerful privileged few.  If you want to reach the top in politics or business here are Lancaster’s six tips to help you speak like a leader.

  1. Three Breathless Sentences – Before delivering your speech, stop, listen, and look around. Take note of how are you feeling. The way that you are speaking will transfer to the audience. Begin with three breathless sentences. This will put people on edge and make your topic sound more compelling and convincing.
  2. Three Repetitive Sentences – As you can see, three is the magic number in rhetoric.  Putting your argument in threes makes it sound more credible. Use three sentences in which the opening clause is repeated and communicate emotion. When we are emotional about things, our perspective distorts and manifests in our speech. You should be able to make a point that sweeps people away. The audience should feel your passion.
  3. Three Balancing Statements – Use three sentences that create balance with opposites. Our brains are tuned to like balance. If a sentence sounds balanced, we assume the thinking is balanced.  We are drawn to these types of sentences even if they are just an illusion.
  4. Metaphor – This is the most powerful tool used in political communication. We use metaphors an average of once every 16 words. They are used to lead people towards things or away from things. Images of beauty and love are used draw people in, and disgusting images push them away. Metaphors are lies that are never challenged, yet they have an enormous impact on the way people respond.
  5. Exaggeration – When we are emotional we exaggerate.  Exaggerative statements happen naturally as part of ordinary conversations.
  6. Rhyme – Research shows that people are more likely to believe something is true if it rhymes. Rhyming and short words make it easier to understand and accept the message being delivered. Rhymes are signifiers of truth, and we use them to conceal fallacies.

Using these six steps, you can make even the most absurd arguments sound plausible. Why? Because they speak to our instinctive, emotional, and logical brains. These rhetoric techniques give you the ability to articulate and express yourself like a leader.


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