By Susan Trivers
You’re an expert who knows how to get the work done, generate results and make a difference to your customers and your colleagues. Naturally you want to share how you do it all. But wait–your audience may not be ready for the ‘How’.
Successful persuasion taps into people’s emotions and inspires them to imagine a better situation. This is true whether you’re marketing IT products, professional services or a cultural shift within your company. To be a persuasive speaker you’ll need to lead the audience to an image of perfection–or at least, improvement. Until they feel it, they won’t be ready to do it.
In any speaking setting that is not training or a workshop, your presentation must focus on “what” and “why.” The “what” is the action(s) they should take to reach their goal. The “why” makes it clear that the “what” will help them reach their goal.
Let’s look at an example: You are responsible for leading a major change of behavior in your company. You could just lay down the law and threaten punishment for anyone who resists. That isn’t likely to generate a favorable response. You could offer a carrot–do this and you’ll get a reward. That’s also a short-term approach that could lead to offering ever-increasing carrots.
First describe the behavioral change
The best approach is to describe the behavioral change, which is the “what.” Describe it in many dimensions-how it will affect their daily actions, and also their feelings, expectations and interactions. Then talk about the “why”–why is the new behavior valuable to them as individuals; you might eventually talk about why the change is valuable to the company as a whole, but whatever you do, don’t start with that! People always put their self-interest first and foremost.
The “what” and the “why” are more than enough for a one hour speech or presentation. Give your audience of employees or colleagues time to savor the image you’ve helped them picture. Encourage them to keep thinking about it. Encourage them to add details to the picture; to discuss their visions with their peers; to move from today and tomorrow to 6 months or a year ahead.
Avoid topics such as “5 Ways to Do X” or “The 7 Factors of Success” or “Three Steps to Learning Y.” Instead, speak about benefits to the audience: “Success Comes to Those Who Envision Change” or “You’re the Leader, So Lead.” “Success” or “Leadership” are the “what” and the rest of your speech is the “why.”
Persuade first on an emotional level
People aren’t ready to be instructed how to do new behaviors until they’ve fully internalized and integrated the new vision. It’s no different than the way you might approach a new sport–if you can’t imagine how much you’ll enjoy playing golf, you won’t learn how to play golf no matter how effective the instructor. Your “What and Why” speech or presentation is the warm-up that makes them ready for the “How.”
Persuade first on an emotional level and instruct later on an intellectual level.
Business speakers who confidently engage their audiences meet their business and personal objectives. Promotion? More revenue? Elite clients? You increase your likelihood of success with high-quality business presentation skills. Susan Trivers consults with and coaches executives and managers to persuade their audiences to take actions across the spectrum of business goals. Learn more about how you can become a great speaker at http://www.susantrivers.com and http://www.greatspeakingcoach.com
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