When persuading someone, there are two sides that you have to account for: their logical and emotional side. However persuasive the rational force of your speech is, it won’t compel the listener to action if you don’t appeal to their emotions as well. Communication is a fascinating, dynamic exchange—and the biggest mistake that you can make when trying to convince someone is to assume that you only need to appeal to their logic in order to persuade them.
When communicating to your audience, it’s essential that you let them know your intention and at the same time align it with theirs. There are several studies that already confirm that people can pick up your intentions from your voice: even infants as young as six-months old are able to ascertain intentions. Our neuron system likewise picks up the intention of others.
Given that your audience can pick up your intentions from the way you communicate with them, what can you do to get them to do what you want? The solution is simple enough: you must craft your speech in such a way that your intention aligns with theirs.
1. Be honest with yourself. Go back to the basics, and ask yourself: what point are you trying to get across? Inevitably, the starting point is honesty: be aware of your intention, as this is the key to clear communication. Understanding what’s in your mind is the first step to understanding what’s in the mind of your listeners. Determine your purpose: is it to entertain? To convince them to action? To educate or enlighten? Or to get them to join your cause?
2. Think and reflect quickly. Not all public speaking engagements are well-planned and well thought through. Some of them will come at the spur of the moment. When this happens, take a step back, breathe deeply, and ask yourself: who is your audience, and why are they intent on listening to you? From that point on, you can craft your message based on their intentions.
3. Be personal. A generic message will definitely not suffice, and your audience will see through that. Have a personal statement when representing your project or product.
4. Know more about the audience. To understand your audience, you will have to know them more thoroughly, and this can be done by finding out the purpose of their business or organization. There are several ways to know more about the background of your audience, so by all means use all means at your disposal to know more about them and their intentions.