Public Speaking, Persuasion And Showmanship

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A persuasive speaker usually needs positive emotion to persuade their audience.

“Stroking the fur the right way,” without being deceitful, is usually a more persuasive method than irritating listeners or throwing monkey wrenches into the machinery. A few speakers have successfully irritated audiences to action or persuaded with invective. But this method requires delicate handling. And, per┬Čaps wisely, it is not commonly used. Such an approach may backfire even when used by an expert. Most listeners like a challenge and they will endure some gentle pushing, but antagonizing remarks are usually resented.
A persuasive speaker needs strong emotional force in his speaking, although he should never let his feelings run wild or cause him to make untactful statements.
Sometimes emotional speaking which is intended to be persuasive may stimulate the opposite effect. For instance, shortly after America declared war on Germany the first time, a Hoosier politician who was running for a county office, declared in a
burst of patriotism, “If I had a drop of German blood in my veins I’d have it cut out!”
This statement was made in a community of American citizens where about three-fourths of the people were of German descent. They didn’t sympathize with Germany but they could not help having “German blood” in their veins. Even the speaker’s wife was of direct German descent!
Actually this speaker injured his listeners’ self-respect. His tactless remark was passed around, and hundreds of people who did not hear the speech, did learn one thing the speaker had said. Some people concluded that his lack of tact cost him the election. His statement was indeed tactless. He could have expressed patriotism in a way that would not have insulted those good American citizens who disliked German despotism as much as he.
Why hurt people? Words which create an “area of good feeling” are far more persuasive. Expressing sincere appreciation and praise is usually a persuasive influence. Flattery, however, is like a counterfeit coin, more often refused than accepted. And it is always unethical.
A characteristic of able showmanship is a speaker’s ability to adjust his thinking and action to last minute, or unexpected changes.
For example out on the street a loud fire siren started just as a speaker had been introduced. The speaker stood quietly until he could be heard. Then he said, “I didn’t expect to start a fire so quickly!”
Upon another occasion a chair collapsed suddenly causing a big man to fall sprawling into an aisle. The audience laughed. And they laughed again when the speaker said, “Well, I see I’m slaying them in the aisles.” But then the listeners, having had a good laugh, listened attentively to the speaker again as he continued talking seriously.

Using humor and positive emotion is an effective way to persuade people in any form of spoken communication whether it is one to one or to groups of any size. Unfortunately, today not everyone is that successful at this spoken communication especially when speaking to a group or audience of any size. If this is you and you would like to be a better speaker to groups of any size, check out our free 7 day e-course by entering your details in the box to the right and have it sent direct to your inbox and get started straightway.

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