Persuasion Power – How To Win Over An Audience

by drjim on August 4, 2009

Speakers Who Can Persuade An Audience Are Powerful Indeed <br> (C) - Jason Cross

Speakers Who Can Persuade An Audience Are Powerful Indeed (C) – Jason Cross

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!

Persuasion Starts With Small Steps

You can assume that the audience that you’ll be speaking to will be be made up of a mix of people who already support your position, who have not make up their minds yet, and who are dead set against whatever you are going to say. Good luck with that presenter!

Clearly the first step in winning any audience over is for you to do your homework BEFORE you are facing the audience. One key area to research is to find out what arguments “the other side” has made. If there is a person or a group that represents “the other side”, then this is pretty straightforward. If there is not a clear “other side”, then you’re going to have to spend some time researching the flip side of what you want to persuade your audience about – because some people will have decided that that is what they want to believe.

One sure-fire way to start to win your audience over to your way of thinking is by using something called strategic agreement. When you do this  you agree with parts of the other side’s position. Automatically this will start to make the audience view you as a reasonable person. They may not completely agree with you, but they will start to warm to your view point.

Show Up Ready For A Fight

Well, maybe that’s putting it just a little bit too harshly. How about if we say that you need to show up ready to address your audience’s objections. Whatever you have been asked to convince them about, there will be objections to it. Before you give your speech, you need to once again do your homework. In your speech you need to make sure that you address these each of these objections.

Sometimes we like to shy away from sticky arguments that we don’t feel that we have a good response to. However, you must be careful to not do this. It turns out that if you don’t address an objection, then your audience will assume that it is a valid objection because you didn’t talk about it.

This Is A No Dumping Zone

I am probably more guilty of dumping than anyone else that I know. When I’m giving a persuasive speech, I want to make sure that I get my point across. This means that I’ll do a lot of research and, if I’m not careful, I’ll “dump” all of that research on my audience during my presentation. This is a bad idea.

Instead, you want to do the research, pick out the points that are going to be the most important to your audience, and then cover just these few points in detail.

What It Takes To Make A Good Argument

You would think that we’d all know this by now, but when I’m coaching speakers I keep discovering that they know WHAT they want to say to make their point, but they don’t know HOW to say it. It turns out that there is a simple formula that allows you to create a complete argument in order to support your position:

  • First: Make An Assertion – you’ve got to tell your audience what point you are going to be trying to convince them about. Without this, they’ll never know what you are talking about.
  • Next: Tell Them Why – this is where you need to explain to your audience why YOU think that your position is correct. This is the meat of your point and you really need to come across as convincing.
  • Finally: Show Proof – the fact that you believe something is great, but not enough. You need to wrap up your point by sharing evidence with your audience that will back up your position.

Final Thoughts

There is no doubt about it – winning people over to your way of thinking is just about the hardest type of speech to give. Ask any politician. However, it can be done. What it requires is that you do a lot of homework in order to prepare your arguments with an understanding of the facts and what your audience is currently thinking.

Public speaking is never an easy thing to do. Developing the skills that are needed in order to rally a crowd behind a new idea, a change in policy, or bold new idea is time well spent for a speaker. If you can do this, 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 speech where you had to persuade the audience? Did you do enough homework to prepare for the speech? Did you find out what the audience was thinking before you gave your speech? How did it turn out? Leave me a comment and let me know what you are thinking.

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

If you are going to go to the effort of creating and delivering a speech, doesn’t it make sense that you’d want to be able to reach your audience and somehow appeal to them? No matter if you are trying to persuade them or educate them, ultimately the goal is find a way to successfully appeal to them. Good news – how to do this has been known for the past 2,500 years!

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