Do you want people to agree with your stance? You have to be completely SANE to do that! [Wednesdays: “Speak on the Shoulders of Giants”]
Wars. Murders. Terrorism.
We hear news about these issues everywhere.
When you encounter stories related to these topics, do you think the world is getting worse?
Imagine someone approaches you and tells you that the world is getting less cruel. Would you easily believe that person?
In April 2018, Canadian cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker spoke to an audience in his TED talk about how the world is getting less cruel despite news of constant violence.
He blew everyone’s mind.
Of course, who wouldn’t be surprised about that statement when news about deaths and cruelty can be seen and heard everywhere?
Pinker’s claim was quite unbelievable!
However, he still managed to convince a lot of people in the audience to see the world through his perspective.
Through the power of reasoning and persuasion.
Pinker started with a bit of “demolition.” In order to construct a better idea in the minds of his listeners, he first had to demolish some of their existing beliefs and perceptions.
He reminded the audience of how “hideous” the violent practices of the earlier eras were by discussing how 500 years ago, one of the French public’s entertainment was lowering live cats into a fire just to hear them shriek, or in the ancient time, over a third of the adult male population died because of violence.
He emphasized how people were more sadistic back then.
It’s like Pinker was implying, “You may think violence is getting worse, but you’ve forgotten just how awful it really was historically.”
Then, he showed how modern media often featured (sometimes even exaggerated) stories of drama and violence, which resulted in people overestimating the actual levels of violence nowadays.
This approach caused the audience to focus on Pinker and take his discussion seriously.
After he talked about all his points, he ended his presentation with a note to ponder on:
“Whatever its causes, the decline of violence, I think, has profound implications. It should force us to ask not just, ‘Why is there war?’ but also, ‘Why is there peace?’ Not just, ‘What are we doing wrong?’ but also, ‘What have we been doing right?’ because we have been doing something right, and it sure would be good to find out what it is.”
That closing statement also changed the perception of the audience about the topic of violence.
Pinker’s presentation shows that good reasoning and persuasion has power to alter someone’s outlook in life.
In the words of Chris Anderson, author of the book titled, “TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking”:
“Persuasion is convincing an audience that the way they currently see the world isn’t quite right. That means taking down the parts that aren’t working, as well as rebuilding something better. When this works, it’s thrilling for both speaker and audience.”
Public speakers want to have a positive impact and leave a lasting impression on their audience. However, not all of them can easily achieve that goal.
One of the reasons is because their approach to a certain topic is “like all the other approaches”―with little creativity, authenticity, and boldness.
A result of that?
They fail to convince the audience to listen or consider the message they are presenting.
If you (speaker) want to influence mindsets every time you speak in front of a crowd, use reasoning and persuasion to your advantage.
Just like Steven Pinker, be bold and creative in your approach to persuasive speeches and presentations!
Try to apply these 4 tips to help you get the most out of your presentation. Remember the acronym: S.A.N.E.!
Shape the issue
Knowing how to frame your message in ways that work to your advantage gives you an edge as a speaker.
To achieve that, you have to make logical connections among the different elements of your talk. This will help you get your message across effectively and guide your audience to follow your discussion.
This is also where the use of effective transitions comes in.
Since you know your presentation and where it’s going (or needs to go), you understand how the elements of your topic fit together.
The next thing you have to do is lead your audience through a thicket of information and make sure they are not overwhelmed.
It’s easier to connect with your listeners when you know they are on the same page as you are in your presentation.
Areas of agreement
When it comes to a hesitant audience, one measure of your influence as a speaker depends on whether or not you can establish a common ground with them.
Once they understand that you all have a common goal, it’ll be easier for them to view you as a reliable speaker.
Establishing areas of agreement is important especially if you’re trying to persuade your listeners to join your call-to-action.
One of the ways to do that?
Be an approachable speaker who is asking to be listened to fairly in front of your audience.
People who resist your point of view might think they’ve heard all the arguments you have.
Why not surprise them once in a while?
Give them something they haven’t heard before. Use stories and metaphors to make your case.
Reminder: These comparisons have to be understandable and relevant so your audience can easily connect with your stories or analogies.
Of course, you won’t succeed in doing this if you don’t know who your listeners are. Before you stand and speak on stage, make sure you do your homework to understand who they are and how they think.
Persuading your audience or convincing them to change their convictions or behaviors won’t happen by only using statistics and pie charts.
If your goal is to influence them, you have to talk about your topic in ways that touch their lives.
What other way to do that than by using emotional language?
By emotional language, we mean tapping on people’s emotions but still in a professional and appropriate way.
You don’t have to be teary-eyed or passionately angry to do that―that might just push away your audience even more. When that happens, they might be less willing to be open to what you have to say and hear you out.
Just be yourself and act natural.
For example, don’t be afraid to reveal how you yourself struggled with the topic you’re discussing. By doing so, you’re breaking down any wall of intimidation and giving listeners an opportunity to genuinely connect with you.
Unlike an informative speech where a speaker is simply making some information known to an audience, a persuasive speech is where a speaker attempts to influence people to think or behave in a particular way.
This art of convincing others is propelled by reasonable arguments, which are backed by evidence, data, statistics, etc.
The effectiveness of a persuasive speech also depends on factors beyond words.
An audience’s willingness to accept a new view, a speaker’s body language, and the environment where the speech is given all can affect the success of a persuasive speech.
When these factors are incorporated properly in your presentation and the message is delivered effectively…
You’ll be able to influence someone’s outlook on whatever topic you discuss.
About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Wednesday: Speak on the Shoulders of Giants”
In a meeting with one person
…a boardroom with five people
…or a huge venue with hundreds of people
—whatever the situation or setting, it’s very important to learn and eventually master the art of public speaking.
No matter what, you always need to effectively get your message across.
What good is a presentation with awesome content if you don’t deliver it properly?
Every Wednesday, we publish different tips, insights, and secrets on how you can improve your presentation skills to captivate your audience and lead interesting discussions.
The need for great presentation skills applies EVERYWHERE.
(Small meetings with your team, big meetings with your boss, an important marketing pitch, speaking engagements for events with a big audience, etc.)
Learning these skills is not just for the corporate world. Being in other industries such as the Arts, Information Technology, Medicine, and Education while knowing how to present well will definitely give you an edge.
Have that advantage.
Hope you’ve found this week’s public speaking tip interesting and helpful.
Stay tuned for next Wednesday’s Speak on the Shoulders of Giants!
Head of Marketing
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
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