How to speak like a leader – Public speaking tips from Simon Lancaster

As a business owner, you can always benefit from being able to speak like a leader. Whether you are delivering a speech in a business conference or giving you morning pep talk to your team, knowing how to speak like a leader helps.

Some people are born with the power to persuade others in their speeches, but most of us are not. Luckily, public speaking is a skill that you can learn. According to Simon Lancaster, one of the world’s most popular speechwriters, you can learn how to speak like a leader.

In his TEDx talk on “Reviving Rhetoric”, Simon revealed a secret language that every business person or leader should learn. In his talk, he explained six rhetorical techniques that can teach you how to speak like a leader.

6 Rhetorical Techniques to speak like a leader

  1. Three breathless sentences
  2. Put things in threes
  3. Balancing statements
  4. Metaphor
  5. Exaggerative statements
  6. Rhyming statements

Simon Lancaster’s talk about how to speak like a leader


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1.    Use three breathless (or clipped) sentences in your speeches to simulate a sense of urgency

When you use rapid-fire sentences, you can tense the audience and simulates a sense of urgency among them. In this way, you can quickly grab their attention and engagement into your speech. Business leaders and politicians frequently use this speaking technique to persuade people.

In his speech, Simon cites a part of the 2008 acceptance speech of Barak Obama. “Even as we celebrate tonight, we know that the challenges tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime: a world at war, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a generation.” So, that was a clear example of using a fast and breathless three points to simulate the urgency in his speech.

2.    Put things in threes to persuade your audience

The three is a magic number in rhetoric. We are used to the things in threes. The rule of three is here, there, and everywhere. When you use your points in threes, it will not only make your argument natural, but also it will be more compelling and convincing. So, if you like to learn how to speak as a leader, remember the rule of three in rhetoric, and use that often to deliver compelling speeches.


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3.    Speak like a leader by using balancing statements

According to Simon, when you use balancing statements in your speeches, your audience will start thinking that the underlying concept (or the idea) is also balanced. So, they will naturally accept the argument of yours. For example, you can use balancing statements like “We are working together, not against one another” to cancel out the opposite side of the argument unconsciously. So, make sure to use this technique in your next pep talk to speak like a leader.

4.    Use metaphors to explain things easily

If you like to speak like a leader, you should learn how to deliver a simple and easy to understand speeches. As a picture can say a thousand words, a metaphor in speech can cover at least 50 words. Therefore, start using metaphors in your speeches to deliver easy to understand, memorable, and engaging ideas.

5.    Exaggerative statements can make you speak like a leader

Of course, the leaders exaggerate a lot! Exaggeration helps to show your passion for something. For example, when we say “We love pizza”, mostly we just like pizza. However, saying that “we love pizza” shows our passion for the food.

Therefore, you can use the same technique to show your passion for something to your audience. However, if you are using exaggerations, make sure that it is obviously an exaggeration. There is a thin line between using exaggeration to stretching an idea and showing your passion.


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6.    Use rhyming statements to make unforgettable points

If you want to create a lasting impression about some point, you can start using rhyming statements in your speeches. It might not sound like an easy task to do (at least for me), but if you can practice this speaking skill, it will be an excellent tool for you to speak like a leader.

Practice how to speak like a leader

A lot of business owners lose many opportunities just because of their fear of public speaking. However, you don’t have to be that person! Start using these six rhetorical techniques from Simon Lancaster to learn how to speak like a leader.

In the beginning, you will feel that it is a hard thing to include these speaking techniques into your speeches (I know that because I am already over that phase). However, once you get the practice, you will start using these techniques naturally. As we told at the very beginning, whether you are talking in front of a business conference or giving your morning pep talk to your team, you can benefit a lot from your ability to speak like a leader.

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