How To Convince An Audience

Speakers need to know how to convince an audience that they are right
Speakers need to know how to convince an audience that they are right Image Credit: Patrik Nygren

The good news is that you know that you are right. The bad news is that your audience may not know it. What this means for you as a speaker is that you are going to have to discover how you can convince your audience that you are right. Although this may be easy to say, it turns out that more often than not it can be quite difficult to do. The good news is that there is a way to make this happen. You just have to know how to go about making it happen.

Winning An Audience Over To Your Side

Have you ever had a good idea that you wanted to give a speech on, only to discover that you could not convince anyone else of its worth? I think that we all know what this feels like. You find yourself saying, “It’s a good idea – why don’t you get it?” When speakers present their ideas, they expect others to listen and agree … or at least that’s how it should work in theory. However, if it were that simple, would we ever have to think or say, “It’s a good idea – why don’t you get it?” Anyone speaker who is trying to “sell” goods, services or ideas to others needs to have effective skills to get an edge in dealing with fierce competition in the marketplace and convince your customers that your product is the right solution for them.

In many cases, the key to a speaker’s success is the ability to persuade others of your point. This skill can be used by any speaker who needs to influence others at work or at home. The process of convincing others begins at the point when you first encounter opposition. One common problem that speakers encounter is when they fail to take the other person’s wishes into account. This can happen when we are so in love with our own ideas that we don’t bother to consider the thoughts and ideas of others.

It turns out that we can avoid persuasion traps if we take the time to pay attention to three things: the idea itself, the emotional reaction to it, and the other person’s confidence in us. Speakers need to understand that all three of these need to be in place if our idea is to take root with our audience. Face it: we all tend to resist the onrush of a runaway idea. This can happen when we fail to address another person’s viewpoint. If we want to overcome resistance then this demands that others understand your idea, get excited about it and then agree that it’s the problem-solver for the situation. To transform an audience’s resistance into agreement with your idea, you have to identify any limiting issues and neutralize them. Audience members might say about your idea, “I can’t see it.” It’s possible that their emotional reaction might be, “I don’t like it.” It may be the case that they may lack confidence in you and say, “I don’t think I like you.” If you want to have any chance of persuading them, you must keep the original idea in mind, be aware of the reaction to it, and clearly understand your relationship with the other person or persons.

Becoming Convincing

It is possible that when you are presenting a new or a challenging idea to an audience you will detect that you have gotten yourself are stuck in an impasse with them. If this happens to you, you then need to view that as an opportunity. Remember that success starts with tough times. Speakers need to recall the old Arabian proverb that says, “Calm seas do not make able sailors.” It’s possible that your audience may become angry and abandon rational thinking, but by keeping your cool you have the ability to rise above the fray. As a speaker, your audience will be made up of all kinds of people. Having strategies for dealing with them will give you confidence – and can help you whenever conflict resolution arises. Among the people you are likely to have in your next audience are:

  • The Know-It-Alls: These audience members are arrogant, and have an opinion on every issue. When wrong, they get defensive.
  • The Gripers: These audience members prefer complaining over seeking a solution.
  • Now-You-Tell-Me Characters: These audience members never volunteer ideas and they never let you know where they stand (unless they’re also After the-Fact Gripers).
  • The Intimidators: These audience members bully. They are demanding and unrelentingly critical.
  • The “Yes” People: These audience members agree to anything, but you can’t depend on them to produce real results.
  • The “No” People: These audience members quickly point out why something won’t work. They can’t be swayed.

You’ve probably tried to persuade some of the aforementioned audience members about the attributes of your “good idea,” only to wonder why they didn’t recognize its genius. It helps to remember the following persuasion tips: always begin by learning to understand the difficult people in your life. Try to find out how they think and what it is that they fear. It can help you understand why they do what they do, and if you can understand them then it makes dealing with them less frustrating.

You are always going to want to be proactive, not reactive. Determine before your speech what to do and say. Find ways to become less of a target. Chances are good that at least somebody in your audience gets along with the difficult people in your audience. Figure out how they do it, and learn to get along, too. Seek ways to bring out the best in others. Remember that nobody is difficult all of the time, and we’re all difficult some of the time. You need to seek to reinforce positive behaviors in others. To become a successful speaker who can convince people, you must understand how to persuasively communicate without badgering, manipulating or pulling rank. How hard could this be to do?

What All Of This Means For You

In order to be an effective speaker, you need to have the ability to connect with your audience. Once you have connected with them, you are going to want to be able to convince them that the idea or plan that you are presenting them with is the right thing for them to do. Convincing an audience can be a tricky thing to do. There are a lot of different personality types in your audience and you are going to have to carefully find ways to identify and appeal to each of them.

Speakers need to understand that it is never easy to convince an audience. You may believe that the idea that you are presenting is a good idea, but you will still have to convince your audience that it is a good idea. If a speaker can remain aware of three things they can avoid falling into a persuasion traps. Speakers need to view impasses as opportunities. We need to realize that our audiences are made up of many different types of people. We have to learn how to understand each of these different types of people. Speakers should always be proactive, not reactive.

Our job as a speaker is to find a way to share new ideas with our audience. Often we will have an idea or an approach that we want our audience to embrace. In these situations, we are going to have to find a way to convince our audience that our idea is one that they are going to want to adopt. This is never an easy thing to do. We need to understand that our audience is made up of many different people and convincing them is going to be a real challenge. However, if we can take the time to understand that everyone is unique and that we need to find ways to relate to all of them, then we just might be able to convince our audience to see things the way that we do.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: What should a speaker do if it appears that their audience is currently not convinced?

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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

The ultimate goal of any speaker is to be able to give a speech that allows us to connect with our audience. We all know that if we can connect with our audience, then we have a real chance to change them and, after all, isn’t that really why we gave the speech in the first place? However, this connecting thing can be tricky to do. If we really want to have any chance to be able to connect with our audience, then we’re going to have to find a way to build bridges between our speech and them. It turns out that we are in luck. If we can find a way to work cultural references into our speech, then we just might be able to connect with them.