Sunday, August 22, 2010

How to make a persuasive speech

I've talked in a previous post about the terrible tendency to TMI (too much information) which afflicts many speakers. Each new workshop I do reminds me how prevalent this tendency is. Just about all speakers want to be able to speak in a way that leads people to change their minds and hearts, but what they come out with is facts facts and more facts.

Information reveals and clarifies options. Persuasion is about choosing among options. To be persuasive you have to convince and influence people – shape their idea of what they need and how you can give it to them.

There is a simple, widely used sequence of steps for persuading developed by John Monroe in the 1930s. Called ‘Monroe's Motivated Sequence ’ the steps are to be found in almost all books and courses about persuasion and the art of selling – whether it’s ‘selling’ ideas, products, policies or politics.

These five elements need to be included in a persuasive speech.

1. Attention-getter
Attention-grabbing arouses interest. In an oral presentation or conversation you can use a story, example, statistic, quotations, etc.

2. State the need – generate awareness
Show that a problem exists, that it is significant, and that it won't go away by itself. You need to demonstrate the harm that is occurring. Here is where facts - used judiciously - are important. Use statistics, examples, etc. Convince your audience that there is a need for action to be taken.

3. Satisfaction – provide a solution
Provide specific and viable solutions that they can implement. Show how your solution solves their problem. Promise them something. Match them as closely as possible to the harms you identified earlier. Try to preempt any objections before they are raised. Make it detailed and specific.

4. Visualize the change – see the benefits

Explain what will happen if your solution is implemented. Review the harm to show the consequences if it does not take place. This gives a sense of urgency. You need them to see that they can’t get along without your product or service. Be detailed. Use examples and scenarios. Let them see themselves in the new dimension.

5. Action – what they should do

You now need to prompt the person into action, implementing the solution that you both now know is the right thing to do. Tell them what action they can take personally to solve the problem. Show how. It needs to be relevant, immediate and doable.

Try it - it may not feel comfortable at first, but it's the way to build support for your cause.

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