Creative thinking in persuasive speaking and presenting

Do you have a conference coming up? A kick-off meeting? A TED-style talk?

You might even have a Dragon’s Den style meeting...

And want to give it a fresh approach, a bit of sparkle?

A little ideation may be the answer!

But what does to ideate mean and how do you do it?


To ideate literally means 'to see' (from classical Greek) but we now use it to mean to form an idea, imagine, conceive. In persuasive speaking it has a broader definition.

It's the process of literally discovering WHAT you are going to say (rather than HOW you are going to say it). It's about seeing the argument and the means to get the result you want. Aristotle in his Art of Rhetoric referred to this whole creative process as the discovery of the best available means of persuasion.

Why do it?

It is essential to ideate, to enable you to understand the different aspects of a problem or issue, what your audience will be interested in, and different ways to approach your message. There’s never just one way to say something.

Ideation will also result in ideas on how to frame and structure your message.

How to do it?

To help with ideation, one needs stimulus.

Tools can help with the process

There are tools which help you to:

Think through cause and effect

Compare similarities or differences

Consider different perspectives (which could be time, people or function-related).

Shapes can be very useful in helping with the creative thinking process.

Concentric circles

These can help you see how one idea/detail/project fits into the bigger picture. For example, how events in the macro environment may affect the company and its various functions internally.

A triangle

The different sides of an argument can be mapped out using the sides of a triangle. For example, the viewpoints of Management, Teams and Individuals

A box divided into quadrants

This can help you to visualise the different topics that you need to cover.

Places can refresh

Other forms of stimuli can come from changing your normal environment. Go somewhere which will refresh your thinking (and this is probably NOT going to be the office 'think tank' aka goldfish bowl). Inspiration is often found in the unlikeliest of places and when it's least expected. Go to a museum or art gallery - or somewhere really whacky!

People can be catalysts

It's not always easy to see the whole picture on your own so brainstorming can help. Make sure to brainstorm with people who are different to you though. Seek out the people who won't necessarily agree with you. Two heads are better than one - but only if they think differently! Also seek out the creative thinkers. We are not all equal when it comes to creative thinking. You don't need the person who is going to source all their ideas by googling!

And go outside the company for input. People inside a company may end up thinking similarly as a result of working together. Working with a creative business coach can provide new input and be a very rewarding experience!

To find out more about our work helping business leaders to prepare for kick-off meetings, conferences and TED-style talks, please contact Simon Cannon, a director at Professional Voice, on:

+44 (0)208 579 6662