Persuading Tough Audience – Use One of Them!

We all have to communicate with tough audiences, and recently I had to persuade the toughest: my 2 year old daughter Alice.

As anyone who has had children in childcare will know, children seem to pick up every kind of cold and sniffle that is going around, then they bring them home to share with mum and dad! On Monday, Alice had bought home a head cold and by Tuesday night she had developed a nasty cough along with a very sore throat. She had become very worked up and was not wanting to cooperate with anyone. She was just sitting on Mums knee and crying uncontrollably.

To help ease her symptoms, we wanted to give her some medicine. However, in the state that she was in, she wanted nothing to do with it.

After many requests for her to take it (and the occasional attempt to force it down her throat!) we decided to give some medicine to Teddy. Teddy had no problems taking the medicine and felt much better after it. Once Alice saw this, she too wanted to take the medicine. She was asleep with in half an hour!

How does this relate to persuading tough Audience? If you are trying to persuade a hostile audience that distrusts you, use someone like the audience to show that you can help them. These are called ‘Third Party Endorsments’ or testimonials.

Why do they work? Well look at the situation from the audiences point of view. If they distrust you, anything you say will be taken as a way of simply selling your point of view so they buy. However, if you can get someone like them (the audience) to say that they have used you, this will add credibility to your message. This will give you a greater chance of persuading them to your message.

To persuade anyone, whether it is through public speaking, sending e-mails, or convincing your 2 year old daughter to take her medicine, you need to be able to appeal to their interests and needs. In the state that Alice was in, she was not convinced that the medicine would work, and was weary of trusting Mum and Dad. However, she knew that Teddy would not lie to her, and when she saw him take it, she knew it would be OK.

Have you ever been in a situation where you have been trying to persuade someone to adopt your ideas? It could happen when you are giving a speech, addressing a meeting or just wanting the family to do what you want to do on the weekend. Instead of trying to brow-beat them into submission, try appealing to what is important to them and showing them how what you propose fits in with what you are saying.

By appealing to their self interest, you will have a greater chance of them wanting to listen and eventually adopt your ideas.

Cheers

Darren Fleming

Posted in public speaking, Understanding your audience

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