Monday, July 27, 2015

Persuasion 101

One of the most interesting areas of Human Psychology is the phenomena known as "persuasion." Regardless of what you think of the power of media in determining attitudes, opinions, values and consumer behavior, the reality is that our minds are being shaped to accept whatever messages the media moguls create. Edward Bernays (1928) articulated this process of mind-crafting in the classic book "Propaganda." You might be quick to disregard his opinions, but you should remember that he was the nephew of renowned psychiatrist Sigmund Freud.

What does this have to do with Toastmasters? Actually, more than you may be inclined to think. As public speakers and leaders, you should be concerned with your effectiveness at persuading others. This was explained to me as, answering three questions before you even draft your speech. What do you want your audience to think? What do you want your audience to feel? What action do you want your audience to perform or do? When you honestly ask these questions, you are prepared to make the important decision of adding/cutting content that leads you closer or away from your ideal outcomes. If your comment does not lead you closer to the audience thinking the way you want them to - you should probably delete it from your speech.

Every word you use, every gesture, every pause, every emotion you display should lead you closer to your predetermined goal. Imagine, with surgical precision, you have created a message that reaches the psyche of men and women, young and old. Your message ignites the thoughts, emotions and resolve of every member of your audience. When you deliver the call-to-action, your listeners are ready to sign-up, open their check-books, and go where you lead! Welcome to the world of "persuasion" ... if you don't have these results, you are not being the effective speaker and leader that you were meant to be!

Fellow Toastmasters, regular Club meetings provide you with the opportunities to rehearse and refine the message that you were born to deliver. At Club meetings, you will receive the invaluable feedback from a systematic evaluation - provided to you for FREE! If you aren't a Toastmaster, find a Club near you and start your personal journey.

Bernays, E. (1928). Propaganda. New York: H. Liveright.