If you think about it, there are a lot of different types of speeches that we can give: humorous, informative, motivational, and of course, ones that are designed to get your audience to start thinking a particular way. Oh yeah, this last type just may be the hardest type of speech to give…
Where Do You Start When You Want To Persuade?
At it’s very heart, persuasion is the art of getting your audience to see the world the same way that you do. As all of us speakers know, no matter if you are talking to a graduation or a business gathering, an audience is not a single entity – it’s a lot of different people sitting out there who all have different opinions on any given topic. Your job as a speaker is to win over as many of them to your side as possible.
Pick Your Problem
John Coleman is an author and a former U.S. national speech champion who knows a thing or two about how to build a speech that can persuade. Coleman points out that before you can have any hope of persuading an audience, both of you need to agree that there is a problem in the first place.
As obvious as this may seem, you could talk until you are blue in the face and it would all be for naught if your audience didn’t agree with you that there is a problem. In order to get your audience to agree that there is a problem that needs to be solved, you need to do three things:
- Isolate it & limit its scope
- Make it urgent
- Make it significant
You Got To Keep ‘Em Isolated
Have you ever heard that phrase “You can’t boil the ocean”? When it comes to persuading an audience it applies – you need to make sure that you pick a problem that you can actually do something about. Scope down a bigger problem (“world hunger”) to something that your audience can do something about (“hunger in our town”).
Well, don’t run but you do want to convince your audience that they need to take action. Just talking about a problem isn’t enough to cause your audience to actually agree to DO anything. Somehow you are going to have to lite a fire underneath them so that they will end up taking some action (that’s why it’s called “persuasion”!).
It’s Only A Problem If It’s Significant
Assuming that you’ve been able to convince your audience that there is a problem, your next step is to make sure that you bring it home – you’ve got to relate the problem to their lives. This is going to require that you have an understanding of who your audience is so that you can describe to them how this problem is going to affect them in terms that will motivate them to take action.
Speeches that persuade are not easy speeches to give. However, as with so many things in life – it’s the ability to do the hard things that make us more valuable. If you take the time to understand how to prepare to give an effective persuasive speech, then you’ll have a powerful new speaking tool and you’ll be able to intimately connect with your audience and make an lasting impact in their lives.
Questions For You
Have you ever had to give a persuasive speech? Was the problem too big, too small, or just the right size? How did you convey that the problem was urgent? Did your audience come away believing that the problem related to their lives? Leave me a comment and let me know what you are thinking.
What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
Not all speeches are the same. Graduations, weddings, corporate pep-rally’s – those are all pretty straightforward. One of the most difficult types of speeches to give is one in which you have been brought in to convince an audience of something. As difficult as this type of speech is to give, if you can become good at doing it, you will seen as being a very valuable speaker indeed!