Speak Like a CEO by Oliver Aust

How to Win Every Argument

Published 2 months ago • 4 min read

This week: 10 Ways to Win Every Argument / Crushing LinkedIn / A Masterclass in Communications Excellence

How to Win Every Argument

Debating is the lifeblood of democracy, a quick way to get to the truth and a crucial skill for leaders. It can even be fun.

The challenge is: we may be right, but the audience – our team, investors, customers – may not see it that way. We lose the debate, the deal, or the commitment of our team.

When I prepare leaders for a debate, we focus on one goal: to persuade the audience. Often they are on stage and the stakes are high.

Someone who has been in this position many times is British-American journalist Mehdi Hasan.

In his excellent book, “Win Every Argument: The Art of Debating, Persuading and Public Speaking”, he provides readers with a comprehensive guide to effective argumentation.

Here are ten guidelines from Mehdi’s book that I personally use when I am on stage or when I prepare my coaching clients:

#1 Grab their attention

Never say “thank you for inviting me”. Instead, start with a strong opening line. You can find my favorite killer opening lines in this cheat sheet.

#2 Connect with the audience

Make eye contact, heap praise on them or share something personal to build trust so that the audience relates to YOU, not just your argument.

#3 Feelings, not just facts

Make the audience care about your topic by telling a story. Stories evoke emotions. When you tell a story on stage, your brain and the audiences’ brains become aligned.

#4 Show your emotions

Look inside yourself and feel your emotions. As Churchill wrote: “To convince them he must himself believe.”

#5 Provide proof

Emotions get you in the door, but won’t close the deal. The order matters: start and end with emotions, but give them the facts in between. Remember that the plural of anecdote isn’t data.

#6 Persuade with your ears

People will connect with you if they feel that you listen to them. This can take the form of Q&As or questions from a moderator (who is a stand-in for the audience). Apply and signal active, empathetic listening.

#7 Make them laugh

Laughter increases engagement and retention. In other words, if I laugh at your talk, I will probably remember what you told me.

Use humor strategically, for instance by injecting some levity into a serious topic, but don’t be offensive or over the top.

#8 Play the ball … and the man

When I was on panels to represent easyJet, I was regularly attacked by competitors, and they wouldn’t always play fair.

In situations like that, sometimes you have to fight back – or lose the argument. It can be effective to critique your opponent's credibility or their motivation.

If you can convince the audience that they are only in it for themselves, then whatever they say will be tainted.

#9 The Rule of 3

You can also make an argument at a personal, a business and a societal level. Or tell them “My Story, our story, the future”.

The point is: follow the Rule Of Three to structure your talk. You can find my favorite all-purpose structures in my guide to '50 Presentation Hacks' you received when signing up to this newsletter. (If you can't find it, just respond to this email and I'll send it again.)

#10 Confidence is everything

The audience looks for confidence. You need to be confident and show confidence. Truth be told, almost everyone feels nervous before speaking in front of others.

For that reason, in next week’s newsletter, I will share with you the best ways to calm your nerves as a speaker and presenter.


Accelerate Your Career

I have coached hundreds of CEOs and leaders to ace media interviews, debates and presentations.

If you are a CEO or founder, inquire about 1-on-1 coaching here.

“Oliver's coaching is a perfect mix of strategic
and pragmatic advice”
Daniel Hanemann, co-founder and CEO of Wundertax


Crushing LinkedIn

In this special moments episode with Eric Partaker, one of the fastest growing creators on LinkedIn, he shares his approach to ideating and creating engaging content that provides value to his audience of over 500,000 followers.

Eric emphasizes the importance of living a multidimensional and holistic life, moving away from the "hustle" mindset and finding balance across health, wealth, and relationships. He advises being intentional about allocating time and energy to high-value activities that truly drive progress.

The episode dives into Eric's content creation process, including maintaining an idea repository, seeking inspiration from conversations and reading materials, and combining personal insights with perspectives from others. He stresses the power of "necessity" in fueling creativity and productivity.

This short clip offers valuable insights for content creators, entrepreneurs, and anyone seeking to achieve peak performance while maintaining a balanced lifestyle.

Listen on Spotify and Apple:


A Masterclass in Communication Excellence

That’s what The New York Times calls Scott Walker’s bestseller Order out of Chaos.

When pirates have hijacked a ship, when a criminal gang has kidnapped someone, when an entire company's future is being held to ransom from a cyber-attack, Scott is the person who gets called in. He has successfully negotiated more than 300 such incidents using the principles in his best-selling book Order Out of Chaos.

I am stoked that Scott will be my guest on Speak Like a CEO in a few weeks to talk about how to negotiate better deals.

My three top take-aways from the book:

1) While successful negotiations start with managing your own emotions, negotiators must remember one golden rule: It’s not about you.

2) Practice level five listening to better understand and interpret your counterpart’s self-perception and perspective. That allows you to convey to the speaker that we are seeing things from his point of view.

3) Rapport to request: In a negotiation, only once you built rapport, move to a request.

Have an inspired weekend!



PS: Share this newsletter with your friends & colleagues here.

Eo Ipso Communications GmbH

Friedrichstraße 68, 10117 Berlin

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