Language Intelligence, Joseph J Romm (2012)

Language Intelligence:
Lessons on persuasion from Jesus, Shakespeare, Lincoln, and Lady Gaga, Joseph J Romm (2012)

If facts were sufficient to persuade people, then experts in science would rule the world. But facts are not, and scientists do not.”

If you want to avoid being seduced, learn the figures of seduction.”

I read this book in late 2012 in Thailand, and did not join Toastmasters until late 2013 or early 2014. (It is a testament to how much — too much, perhaps — I read in those months that I have found no better hypothesis for my “awakening” between March-Dec 2013 than the correlation to how much I read….)

As such, I am incredibly disappointed in myself for not having reviewed this book, The Power of Persuasion, and others like To Sell Is Human during my time in Toastmasters. I should be ashamed… but no matter, what have I learned? I will review them before any more speeches!

Moreover, I should focus on metaphor in all my communication, Spanish or English, written or spoken, phone calls or facebook messages!


  • Match natural speaking.
  • One-syllable words are ideal…use shorter ones where longer will do.

To sum up the key rhetorical strategies used by the greatest persuaders:

  1. Use short, simple words.

  2. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Repetition is the essential element of all persuasion.

  3. Master irony and foreshadowing. They are central elements of popular culture, modern politics, and mass media for a reason—they help us make sense of the stories of our lives and other people’s lives.

  4. Use metaphors to paint a picture, to connect what your listeners already know to what you want them to know. Metaphors may be the most important figure as well as the most underused and misused.

  5. Create an extended metaphor when you have a big task at hand, like framing a picture-perfect speech or launching a major campaign.

  6. If you want to avoid being seduced, learn the figures of seduction. If you want to debunk a myth, do not repeat that myth.