Persuasive Speaking Vs. Leadership Talks: The Crucial Differences.

The Leadership Talk is a far superior communication methodology than the commonly taught persuasive speech.  Here are the big differences.

By Brent Filson - 5/2007

I’m often asked to delineate the differences between "persuasive speech" and the Leadership Talk.

The differences are crucial.   They go right to the heart of your leadership effectiveness.  If you don’t understand those differences, you can’t take advantage of the great opportunities the Leadership Talk affords in both your job performance and career advancement.

After all, leaders speak 15 to 20 and more times a day. It’s in those interactions that they succeed or fail in their jobs and, ultimately, their careers. When they are giving Leadership Talks, their chances of success far greater than if they are simply giving presentations and persuasive speeches.

I’ve been developing the Leadership Talk methodologies since the mid-1980s when I was called in to help with the leadership communications of General Electric executives. Since then, those methodologies have helped leaders of all ranks and functions in scores of top companies and non-profit organizations world wide.

The Leadership Talk is a major step beyond traditional persuasive-speaking methods.

The Talk is more than simply talking, persuasive though such talking may be.

It is a special, rigorous methodology, richer than common approaches in its capacity to generate relationships that have people choose to take extraordinary actions to achieve great results ... broader in its applicability to all ranks of leaders and all organizational functions ... and deeper in its power to tap into deep, human, emotional well springs of motivation.

Furthermore, it’s been demonstrated by more than two decades of systematic, on-the-job applications that Leadership Talks achieve far more results -- hard measured results -- than other persuasive-speaking methods can achieve.

Finally, it’s a way of leading and, ultimately, a way of life. For if you don’t make your leadership your life, you diminish both your leadership and life.

The difference between Leadership Talks and persuasive speech can be boiled down to this: The Leadership Talk is a holographic totality. To explain this, let me first describe a hologram and one of its unique properties. The hologram is a three-dimensional photograph made on a flat surface with laser beams.

The three-dimensionality of such an image is not the only remarkable characteristic of a hologram. If a hologram of your face is cut in half and then illuminated by a laser, each half will still contain the entire image of your face.

Indeed, even if the halves are divided again, each snippet of film will always be found to contain a smaller but intact version of the original image of your face. If we try to take apart something constructed holographically, we will not get the pieces of which it is made, we will only get smaller wholes.

The Leadership Talk is a "holographic totality" because every Talk one delivers – every single one – contains all the processes I have developed during the past 23 years of working with many leaders of all ranks and functions worldwide. Those processes are comprehensive, interlocking, highly practical, and results-producing.

For instance, the process of having people take right action can lead to the process of developing a Leadership Contract ... which can lead to processes involved in getting more results faster continually using the SAMMER test ... which can lead to processes helping make one’s leadership one’s life. 

These are only a fraction of the nested processes associated with the Leadership Talk. Of course, every time you give a Talk, the totality of processes are not explicitly manifested. If they were, they’d be cluttering and confusing.  

Instead, like a single holographic image, each Leadership Talk is carried by a specific process needed to get results in that particular situation, a process that – in keeping with the "whole in every part" paradigm – is cross-correlated with all the other processes.

In short, every Leadership Talk is a splendidly detailed hologram. This is not an analogy or metaphor but the very reality of the Talk.  Using this knowledge, you can greatly increase the effectiveness of your leadership.

Aside from the holographic totality, there are other differences as well between persuasive speaking and Leadership Talks.

First, there is a difference in definition. Persuasive comes from Latin roots meaning "sweet". Mostly, persuasive speech is "sweet" speech, meaning that it’s pleasing and convincing. The idea is that when we try to persuade people, we often tell them what they want to hear. Persuasive speaking is a kind of "sweet talking."

The Leadership Talk, on the other hand, may not be defined as sweet talk at all. In fact, it may involve "rough talk." It is based on the idea that leadership is not getting people to do what they want, leadership is often having people do what they don’t want to do and be totally committed to doing it. There’s nothing sweet about that. As a leader, you are not simply trying to persuade people, you are trying to motivate them; and the difference between persuasion and motivation is the difference between being nice and being effective. Being nice might be effective. But in leadership, we are not here to get along but to get results. So, there’s a difference between persuasion and motivation.

A Leadership Talk is not defined as simply your talking to somebody. It can involve your engaging in a conversation or even simply listening as the other person talks.

Talking is a tool to make happen what a Leadership Talk is all about. It’s about relationship. You may call it a "Leadership Talk Relationship." That relationship is characterized by a deep, human, emotion connection.

There is a difference in structure. Persuasive speech is a subset of the Leadership Talk dynamic. You may be trying to persuade people when you give a Leadership Talk, but there are many other things you must be doing. Establishing a deep, human, emotional connection is more than simple persuasion. That involves more than simply persuading people to your cause. It also involves followup. Embedded in the Leadership Ta


5/2007© The Filson Leadership Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

The author of 23 books, Brent Filson's recent books are, THE LEADERSHIP TALK: THE GREATEST LEADERSHIP TOOL and 101 WAYS TO GIVE GREAT LEADERSHIP TALKS. He is founder and president of The Filson Leadership Group, Inc. – Celebrating 25 years of helping leaders of top companies worldwide achieve outstanding results every day. Sign up for his free leadership e-zine and get his FREE report "7 Steps To Leadership Mastery"