The Human Side of Speaking in Public – Part 2

(3-minute read. Grab a partner, there are games!)

Welcome back, and thanks for taking a few minutes this month to read about techniques for becoming a more persuasive speaker.

Persuasive speaking is not just for speeches and presentations. We use persuasive speaking in every aspect of our lives. Whether we’re talking about sports, politics, what to eat for lunch, a business position, or with a manager about a raise or a promotion, we make assertions and arguments to convince others of the importance of our position.

Our success depends on how well we connect with our audience and read and react to the nonverbal and body language cues we talked about in Part One.

You Gotta Believe

Before you can persuade others, believe in the importance of your subject. But believing is more than just being passionate. Convincing others requires passion, a clearly defined position and reasons why others should engage in your cause.

Combine the elements of Ethos/Pathos/Logos-credibility, logic, and passion, to build your case and motivate your audience.

Ethos/Logos/ Pathos

If you believe in the importance of your subject you have made the first step in becoming a persuasive speaker. Organizing your rationale using the principles of Ethos, Logos, and Pathos will help you build trust, inform and move others toward your point of view.

These principles may sound complicated, but chances are you are already incorporating some of these into your everyday conversations. Let’s get started.

Ethos (Credibility)

Before you can convince anyone of anything, build trust and establish your credibility. This takes some preparation.

Know the Facts
But you can’t be credible unless you know the facts. Learn as much as you can about your topic. If there are multiple points of view on an issue, cite experts in the field and then ask your audience for feedback about what is important to them. You don’t have to be a leading expert, but you should be aware of and knowledgeable about all sides of the issue.

Find Out What Your Audience Needs
Knowing the characteristics of your audience ahead of time will help you establish common ground. Begin the conversation with reasons why the topic is important to you AND to them. Connect the subject to their business or personal interests. People are much more likely to be persuaded if they perceive benefit for themselves or their business.

If you don’t know your audience ahead of time, create common ground by citing the larger economic, social or political factors influencing your position and asking an open-ended question such as, ‘Do you have this need or face this issue?’ Highlighting areas of need and opportunity is an important part of establishing your credibility and moving your audience toward your position.

Logos (Logic)

Overcome Objections
Once you know the facts, consider where your audience is most likely to object. Make a list of likely objections.

Game #1: With a partner, use your list and role-play objections and responses. Have your partner mix up the list of objections so you can figure out and practice your talking points and counter arguments. Practicing with a partner will help you respond quickly and clearly in the moment.

Once you have identified and overcome likely objections, take the conversation one step further by explaining benefit to your audience using the If/Then model. “If we are able to do/change/support this initiative, then you/your firm/your clients will benefit by (name benefit)”.

Get to the Heart of the Issue
In every group there will be those who are easily convinced, those in the middle of the road and those who are opposed to your position. Often we focus on the ‘friendlies’ that already agree with us, but this can alienate those on the fence and push those opposed farther away. Focusing on convincing those in the middle strengthens your argument and may even make those opposed more receptive. You can prepare using the Nine Why’s exercise.

Game #2: With a partner, explain your topic, its importance and your position on the issue. Your partner’s sole responsibility during the discussion is to ask ‘Why’.

Here are some ‘Why’ questions your partner can ask.
Why is this important?
Why should I personally care?
Why will changing my view benefit me?
Why will my clients care?
Why will this benefit my business?
Why do I need to make a decision now?

Answering each ‘Why’ will get you closer to the heart of what is most important for your audience and help you create clear responses to sway those on the fence. (Note: It’s pretty easy to get through the first 4-5 levels of ‘Why’. Levels 6-9 are a lot harder so don’t stop asking until all 9 levels are complete)

Pathos (Passion)

You bring natural passion to your topic or you wouldn’t be trying to convince others of your point of view. But sometimes your passion isn’t quite enough.

Use Stories to Connect
Stories are a great way to personalize an issue and create connection with your audience. People remember stories because they are about a real person and a true event. Make the story as captivated as possible by focusing on a single person, explaining the challenge they faced, choices they made, and result of those choices to illustrate your point of view.

Ask Your Audience to Act
At this point you have explained the importance of your topic and created a position. You have overcome objections and identified audience benefit. You have told a story and made the impact real.

Your audience is poised and ready to act, but they need direction. Now what?

Be clear about what you want your audience to do. Do you want them to sign a petition, support your idea by convincing others, make a donation, and give you financial support or a new position? Ask for one action and establish urgency by including a timeframe for response. Review your ask to make sure that the stories you have told and facts you have given support what you are asking your audience to do.

Wrapping it Up

As audience members, we are likely to be persuaded when we trust the person speaking, the information being presented, and have been given a reason to act.

As speakers, knowing the facts, being able to overcome objections, creating connection through stories, and asking for action, increases our ability to persuade others.

Be as prepared with facts and stories as you are passionate about the topic.

Try it yourself. Let me know how it goes.

Coming in April, Part 3 of The Human Side of Speaking in Public…
Conquering Anxiety

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