Best Persuasive Speech. Ever.

"Persuade" Definition

“Persuade” Definition

Persuasive communication is an art, but it can be learned.  It introduces a thought that may disagree with the beholder’s beliefs but does so with respect and honor wishing to help him benefit from accepting your idea, your product, your service.  It is a process that demonstrates your working hard to understand the value of their point of view and inviting them to reciprocate.  It was also one of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits:  “Seek First to Understand; Then To Be Understood.

I think that our leaders in Washington would do well to remember that and to study a little Shakespeare.

Marc Antony’s speech to the Roman mob at Caesar’s funeral, in Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, is the best example I can choose.  Anyone can benefit from the skill and subtlety of the writing and how it can be brought to life by perceptive interpretation.

Talk about the ultimate sales pitch:  Antony faces a Roman mob incited by Brutus and  the senate who justify the murder of Caesar by condemning him as a tyrant and would-be emperor.  The Romans are with them and approving in full voice when Antony steps before them, now in some danger himself.  He now stands before the Roman mob at Caesar’s funeral and denies that he is here to contradict the noble senators and just wants to bury his friend.

Then he very carefully, slowly, deliberately, skillfully weaves other meaning into his oratory and leads the Romans to exactly the opposite conclusion.

He skillfully moves from:

  • A type of penitence to
  • Agreement with the senate, followed by
  • Some seeming contradictions and then,
  • Some real questions.

Eventually, he senses that the mob has turned his way, he allows his tone to turn sarcastic and eventually invites the mob to to condemn the assassins as murderers of a beloved hero and the mob is with him.

Here are two examples of quite different interpretations of this speech, the first in a more classical presentation by the brilliant actor Marlon Brando.  The second is a more contemporary, bare-bones delivery by the Royal Shakespeare Company with a a cast that is, I think, African in origin and the phrasing is almost musical.

In both of these, I’ve included only the first few minutes but you will appreciate both the words and how they’re spoken.

Here also is the speech in written form, should you care to read it.

This speech also brings into focus some essential elements from which salespeople and public speakers would benefit.  In both cases, they are in the business of opinions of their audiences and sometimes wanting to change those opinions.




No, that’s not a typo in the title; it’s an acronym.  Last week I had the opportunity to attend the SCORRE Conference for speakers and I recommend it highly.  Anyone who is thinking of being a professional speaker or wants to improve their speaking skills will benefit from this experience for 4 reasons:

1:  Proven System:  It’s been taught and used successfully for years and some attendees claimed that it changed their lives, including my favorite blogger Michael Hyatt (now one of the partners and presenters).

2.  Proven Method:  Their system demands specificity and required us to focus our thinking to move an audience to action, using a step-by-step method.

3.  Proven Faculty:  At every level, the faculty is terrific.  They are experienced and committed to improving the quality of the attendees.  In addition, they are genuinely nice people.

4.  Proven Results:  We each got a chance to speak every day (3 times total) during the conference to our 9-person group that included a faculty member.  All of our group were some of the most friendly and committed people I’ve ever met.

The whole atmosphere of the conference was encouraging and there was a palpable absence of competition or trying to one-up anyone else.  We were all there to learn as well as help each other.

I only had one problem:  While the setting in the Colorado mountains west of Vail was breathtaking, it was also breathtaking.  Huh?  I mean that I’m used to an altitude near sea level (900 feet) and this was 10 times that at almost 9,000 feet.

But it was postcard gorgeous and the conference gave me something I’ll use for the rest of my life.