Research Article

Persuasion in the Business Speeches of Chief Executive Officers of Selected International Companies

Su Yingying*, Leonardo O. Munal


This study investigated the persuasive strategies employed in the business speeches of Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of selected international companies. Anchored in Speech Act Theory within the broader aspect of pragmatics, it analyzed 12 speeches, totalling 14,938 words, from a diverse range of international CEOs. These speeches, intended for both employees and shareholders, provided a rich corpus for examining the nuances of persuasion in a business context. The analysis focused on identifying various categories of persuasion, particularly distinguishing between direct and indirect speech acts. Utilizing a qualitative approach, 1,172 clauses were coded to elucidate the persuasive mechanisms at play. Findings revealed a predominant use of indirect persuasion by CEOs. Despite their intention to persuade, these business leaders predominantly opted for subtle, indirect speech acts, making their persuasive intent both non-obvious and inherent. Contrary to expectations, the study found a marked absence of direct rhetorical devices such as rhetorical questions, suppositions, and wonderings. This aligned with the pragmatic realities of business communication, which often eschews overtly unrealistic assertions. The analysis proposed a novel model for understanding the linguistic strategies of persuasive speech in business, highlighting both utilized and potential areas of persuasive speech acts. The implications of these findings extended beyond the specific speeches analyzed, suggesting avenues for further research. Recommendations included exploring persuasion directed at varied audiences, analyzing the perlocutionary effects post-delivery, and integrating paralinguistic and extralinguistic elements with verbal aspects of business speeches. This research not only mapped the current landscape of persuasive strategies in CEO speeches but also opened new possibilities for linguistic exploration in the realm of corporate communication.

Keywords: Business Speeches; Company CEOs; Persuasion; Pragmatics; Speech Acts

Persuasion in the Business Speeches of Chief Executive Officers of Selected International Companies