Convincing tips on persuasion

Skepticism and inertia are the enemies with which a persuasive speaker does battle.

Consider your own reasoning process when you are asked to listen to new or opposing ideas. Something must happen before you will act on a new idea or adopt a different point of view.

The secret is to analyze your audience's perspective and to use three kinds of proof that date back to Aristotle. These three elements of persuasion can be combined to make your presentation a success: source credibility (ethos); the feelings, needs and wants of your audience (pathos); and logical proof (logos).

Here are some modern applications of these three components of persuasion, as outlined by Sharol Parish, a local speech consultant who has provided speech training to chief executive officers, politicians and even the celebrity athletes in the Miller Lite commercials.

SOURCE CREDIBILITY.
Skeptical listeners will judge your ideas on your sincerity, experience or expertise. They also tend to rate the character of speakers on the way they use humor. (Being playful and able to laugh at yourself will win you more favor than a stale joke.)

"The credibility of the speaker is the most powerful element in persuasion," says Parish. "This credibility can come from the speaker's reputation or can be earned by the way your material is presented."

CONSIDER YOUR AUDIENCE.
"Persuasion occurs in the head of the listener, so it's important to analyze his feelings, needs and wants," explains Parish.

Motivate your audience by explaining what's in it for them. Appeal to either experience and self-interest. Explain how they can gain if your idea is accepted or lose if it isn't.

"When you suspect resistance or hostility, withhold your point of position until later in your presentation. Let your reasoning and evidence lead to your position," suggests Parish.

For example, "Because lack of motivation is a serious problem ... [support with facts] and because administering strong discipline as a solution has failed to correct the problem ... [support with facts] and because continuing this approach will cause further harm if we don't change this policy ...[support] I believe we must..."

Play devil's advocate with your ideas before you present them. Anticipate opposing viewpoints and opposing evidence and build a defense for them in your presentation. If you are not impartial, at least you will appear fair.

Parish explains, "By exposing the audience to the counter evidence you inoculate them against it -- provided, of course, that you build a good case for your own position."

LOGICAL PROOF.
If you have several good arguments or reasons, Parish recommends using the strongest ones first and last. Studies show that people remember openings and closings more than the middle of a presentation.

Generalizations and opinions must be supported with facts before they will be convincing.

These facts will be more effective if a few, simple guidelines are followed:

USE EXAMPLES TO ILLUSTRATE YOUR KEY POINTS.
People tend to remember examples more clearly than statements.

STATISTICS SHOULD BE RELATED TO THE AUDIENCE'S EXPERIENCE.
Parish recommends replacing numbers with images. Here's an example she offers; "A whale has a lung capacity equal to the volume of a compact car."

IF YOU MUST USE NUMBERS, ROUND THEM OFF
Be sure to use them sparingly. Visual aids are usually the best way to present numerical facts.

FINALLY, STIR YOUR AUDIENCE TO ACTION
Use your enthusiasm and belief in your own ideas.


Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616, mailto:info@joanlloyd.com, or www.JoanLloyd.com 
 
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