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9 Effective Persuasive Language Techniques Architects Can Use to Convince an Audience

Updated: Dec 31, 2021

In episode 19 of Think Big Podcast, I share 9 ways for how we can use language to be more persuasive. The episode is full of vocabulary, expressions and examples for how you can use language to become more convincing in front of clients, colleagues (even when you don't feel like an expert).

In the episode we discuss:

✨ 9 ways we can use language to persuade au audience

✨ How using language can impact the success of a project

✨ Real Business English examples for architecture and design that you can use at work or university.

Tara's details ✨ Follow me on Instagram:

✨ Connect with me on LinkedIn Tara Cull


Want more examples of practical language for architects? Check out our planner below.


A list of all the resources we discussed in the episode.



📚 Think Like an Architect

Video - Bjarke Ingels Toyota Woven City Presentation


claim - state or assert that something is the case,

unquestionable - not able to be disputed or doubted

irrefutable - impossible to deny or disprove.

imply - indicate the truth or existence of (something) by suggestion rather than explicit reference

draw a conclusion - indicate the truth or existence of (something) by suggestion rather than explicit reference

insist - adamant

limited - restricted in size, amount, or extent; few, small, or short.

draw inspiration from - take inspiration from

jargon - special words or expressions used by a professional or group that are difficult for others to understand.


Note: This is not a word-for-word transcript (contact me if you have any questions)

Hello Big Thinkers and welcome to episode 19 of Think Big English for Architects. The second last episode of the year!

If you're an architect, landscape architect, interior designer, urban designer or you work in the built profession and you speak English as a second language then you're definitely in the right place.

On the podcast, I share conversations I've had with people in the industry (or outside) and I discuss ways you can build your vocabulary or I share my insights for many different topics to help you with building your listening skills. If you want to follow along with what's happening at ArchiEnglish then check out more at and signup for the vocabulary email where I send out one email a month sharing examples to help you build relevant vocabulary.

In his book Think Like an Architect, Randy Deutsch says:

Architects rationalise their subjective ideas by translating them into something relevant, understandable and usable. But also arguing using reason balanced with passion can make all the difference to a project others will stand behind and defend. Randy goes on to use Architect Stevel Holl as an example where he often begins the design process with a simple watercolour but gradually rationalises his ideas so people can see how the concept comes together practically.

Using persuasive language as an architect or designer is how we sell our ideas! I've seen concepts fall over completely because they weren't well explained or the language just wasn't convincing enough. Equally, I've seen simple projects flourish because the simple idea was so well presented that it convinced the audience it wasn't a good idea but a great idea. As a longtime reader of psychology books by pioneers like Martin Seligman, I'm convinced that the ways we use language can play a significant role in the ways we appeal to our audience's emotions and in turn the success of projects. Presenters like Bjarke Ingels are not labelled great communicators for no reason. You only have to watch one of his presentations to see how he ties language and visuals together. He knows what it takes to convince an audience. I'll pop my favourite example of one of his presentations into the show notes for you to check out.

In today's episode, I'm going to share 9 ideas for how you can use language to convince an audience. Something you'll do almost daily as an architect in presentations, client meetings or even discussions with colleagues. I'll give you some real concrete examples that you can start implementing straight away into your own client meetings and presentations. In the next episode, I'm also going to put some of those examples into practice by sharing 3 project winners from the World Architecture Festival and why I think they deserved to win. In today's episode, you'll come across lots of vocabulary for persuasive language and in the following episode, I'll discuss two architecture projects and one landscape architecture project.

Let's begin. 1. Make your claim and justify it in one sentence.

When we make a claim or statement we need to show our audience how certain we are. Then we can continue to build on that claim with evidence. E.g. We need to consider innovative ways to use materials if we want to be been seen as a designer who takes sustainability seriously. E.g We drew inspiration from the local context because we believe in the importance of connecting architecture to stories. We can then add weight to our argument by incorporating statistics and facts. This is effective, especially when the audience is more analytical or needs to make decisions (clients, colleagues, consultants). Including facts and statistics in your message shows that you researched and investigated your claim. It makes you appear that you know what you are talking about. Your message will be seen as valid since facts and statistics are unquestionable and irrefutable. Make sure that when using statistics it is accurate and taken from reliable sources. Examples: “As we saw in this project, they successfully executed ... “In a recently completed project we found that…” "We successfully incorporated this into this project ... "As you can see in this previous example ... You'll find several examples of how this has been used here ... 2. Rhetorical question Rhetorical questions are questions that are asked but not required to be answered. They are often used to get the audience’s attention, imply certain answers, emphasize a point, or guide audiences to draw certain conclusions. E.g. Have you ever wondered? E.g. Should we really design spaces without considering the future? 3. Justify your claim with why To emphasise your argument and reinforce your point, make sure to explain why with clear language markers. The reason why ... We insist on this because ... We made this choice because ... Given that you mentioned the importance of extra storage, we decided to ... 4. Use repetition This will help to emphasise your point and create familiarity with your main ideas making your message more memorable. To do this, choose the key points that you want to emphasise and consider Keep on repeating those words throughout your discussion or speech. You can also use repetition by repeating the structure of an argument for example always following a structure of - detail, evidence, examples, and summary. Phrase: As I mentioned earlier ... As I mentioned... As I described ... 5. Compare and Contrast Compare and contrast is a technique where you compare two things to present a point. While, although, in comparison, similarly, in contrast to etc. It can guide your audience to see the connection of things thus will help in making your audience agree with your point. We can also use similes, metaphors, and analogies to illustrate comparisons. I consider the language of compare and contrast to be one of the most significant language skills to master. Why? - because we often present more or several concepts to clients where we need to do this to convince them of why one concept is better (or will be more successful) than the other. Examples: The stairwell has limited openings to the outside, in contrast to the bright rooms on either side with large openings for natural light. The entrance is as grand as the surrounding mountains. The entrance is like the surrounding mountain ranges, drawing inspiration from the local context. 6. Use emotive language Many people believe that using jargon is the best way to show expertise. While this is true in certain circumstances we can appeal to a wider audience by using more inclusive language that appeals to our audience's emotions: 1. powerful verbs that are more descriptive - e.g make: assemble, produce, generate, formulate e.g talk / speak: collaborate, share, address, discuss 2. powerful adjectives e.g happy - thrilled perfect - impeccable important - vital 3. superlatives (the best, strongest, quickest, easiest) 4. Hyperbole Hyperbole is the use of exaggeration. It is often used to make a point or emphasize it. Overstating can be effective as your point can be viewed as greater than it actually is and more urgent and important. Using exaggeration can make two things, to communicate value, or make the situation seem worse. By describing an extreme version of events, it creates a dramatic impact. This provokes strong emotional responses from your audience which makes them more likely to accept your viewpoint. However, when using exaggerations, make sure that it is done appropriately and can be backed up by proof. Example: “No one likes to be drowning in paperwork.” “I have a million things to do" "We knocked the presentation out of the park!" 7. Inclusive language Adapt the language to the audience so if they won't understand the jargon, don't use it. Use we and also use language to try and involve your audience. Inclusive language is important in all forms of communication, but it is especially important in persuasive communication. Using ‘us’, ‘we’, and ‘our’, and employing rhetorical questions and other techniques of inclusive language effectively positions the audience to agree with what you are saying and gives your communication extra strength and power. E.g. Imagine you will be able to ... E.g. If we do this, we can ... 8. Make your opinion balanced and admit your bias As Randy Deutsch suggests, people are more convinced of your idea when you present your argument in a balanced way. Present the pros and cons or the negatives and the positives. This also communicates the idea that you can see the project in the greater context.

Example: Although the form might be considered simple, it allows the space to be used for multiple functions. Although movement on the floor between rooms is physically distant, the feel is a much closer connection In my opinion, it's also important at times to admit your bias or the lens through which you form your opinion about something. It also shows that you see the project in context and you're not fixed on an idea without input from someone else. It's particularly important given that international collaboration is becoming more prevalent and we increasingly work across cultures. I acknowledge that my opinion is based on ... I see the project as someone who believes ... As someone who is ... I see it this way ... 9. Use Story and Anecdotal evidence An anecdote is a short story involving real-life events. It is used to illustrate a point and simplify complex issues. It triggers imagination thus, makes your point more vivid and relatable keeping your audience engaged. By providing real stories your persuasive message sounds more realistic, credible, and interesting. It is effective especially when backed up by facts. Examples: “I experienced this dilemma first-hand on my most recent project” “To give you an example, I’d like to share my experience on this issue.” " We experienced some similar challenges ... Summary

In this short episode, we have gone through 9 different ways to use language to convince an audience. 1. Make your claim and justify it in one sentence & build on that claim with evidence. 2. Rhetorical questions 3. Explain why 4. Repetition 5. Compare and contrast 6. Emotive language 7. Inclusive language 8. Balanced opinions and bias 9. Story and Anecdotal evidence

I'm sure you've learnt some useful examples and it's helped you to think about how you might present ideas. Be sure to listen to episode 20 where you'll hear some of these examples as well as find out more about some of the project winners from the 2021 World Architecture Festival.

That brings us to the end of this episode.

As always, thanks for listening to The Think Big Podcast. If you enjoyed the show, make sure you subscribe for more English tips for architects and share with someone else who might find it helpful.

Remember that you can find the free podcast transcript with key vocab, grammar points and useful expressions at Catch you soon.

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Have any questions about anything you've heard in today's episode? Send me an email.

Want to uplevel your communication skills to present your projects with more confidence? Find out more about my 1:1 & coaching programs. Find more examples to help you feel more prepared in our Coaching Guide, Planner and Language Guides.

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