Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Persuade me: 21 ways speakers can

I'm a frequent speaker, but for every time I speak, I spend 10 times as an audience member. And like most audience members, I have a list of what works when speakers are trying to persuade me. Here's my list of 21 speaker tactics that persuade me to listen and even agree with your points:

  1. Look at me. More than once, and hold my gaze a bit while you're at it.
  2. Let me share an idea.
  3. Let me ask a question--and not just when you're finished. Then answer it.
  4. Voice the questions I (or others) have, even if you don't agree with or answer them.
  5. Don't just preach at me: Tell me about the experiences that shape your perspective.
  6. Smile at me. More than once, and especially when someone is grilling you.
  7. Acknowledge the difficulties your audience may be facing, even if you don't agree with them or experience them yourself.
  8. Credit your competitors, opposition or enemies with something good.
  9. Don't skip over, dismiss or ignore audience questions and issues. Address them.
  10. Respond, but don't react to audience bullies. I'd rather see you keep your composure and handle them evenly.
  11. Don't be afraid to disagree, respectfully and with data on your side.
  12. Assume your audience is smart and come prepared. Know your stuff.
  13. Assume your audience includes beginners, but don't talk down to us.
  14. Tell me why you're excited and passionate about your topic.
  15. Spend less time talking than you're allotted.
  16. Share a professional secret you know that may make all the difference in my take on the issue.
  17. Tell me the three toughest questions to answer on your topic--especially if no one knows the answers yet. That helps me look ahead.
  18. Don't just interact with the vocal audience members. Speak to and encourage those who don't speak to you in front of the group.
  19. Make me laugh--in recognition, with the group and without being mean about it. Don't make fun at the expense of an audience member or opponent.
  20. Don't be a know-it-all. I'll be more swayed by what you know if you admit what you don't know...or tell me what you wish you knew (see #17).
  21. Plan ahead. Know what you want me to take away, and make it easy for me to remember it by focusing your talk on those key messages.

Persuasion comes up again and again when people define eloquence. What's on your list of what makes a speaker persuasive?


Rob Shore said...

Thanks for the tips Denise. Found your site from the ProBlogger Challenge - great list!

As a professional speaker your insight are appreciated.


Kate Perrin, PRofessional Solutions LLC said...

Wouldn't it be great if every group inviting someone to speak to their members provided this list before hand?

Some great reminders -- thanks!

Jeff Porro said...

Great stuff. Every speech coach should make sure the senior executive he or she is working with reviews this list. Very helpful for us speechwriters, too.

Ellen Gunty said...

This is great stuff. In fact I think there is a lot of great "takeaway information" here for jobseekers today as well. After all when looking for a job, every little thing that can assist a candidate to persuade a potential employer that they are the one for the job has to be a plus. Nice blog overall.