It’s not just speaking … when we speak to persuade.
Successful persuasion also lies in the ability to actively listen, even in the field of public speaking.
Successful speaking to persuade relies on knowing your audience.
What are their needs and wants.
How are they thinking about your proposal.
What are they likely to favour about it?
What is going to stand in the way of them being persuaded?
What are their doubts?
What are their objections?
What are the obstacles to them moving forward with your suggestions?
Listen to them – before the presentation – survey them, talk to them, ask the event organiser about the – and listen.
Listen to them – during the presentation – ask them questions – and listen.
Successful speaking to persuade relies on seeing moments where you can gain agreement – maybe a comment or question from your audience, a situation from which you can draw an analogy, maybe a report back from a group discussion.
Listen for those and keep a line of thinking open that will allow you to use those moments to really amp up the energy of your speaking response.
Successful speaking to persuade relies on your being adaptable. It’s one of the lessons I teach in my workshops and seminars on PowerPoint. Be prepared to change the course or direction of your presentation. If it seems that your audience puts value on one point or discussion over another, or if the feedback, comments or discussion suggests that a different direction would wok best, then be prepared to change the structure of the presentation that you had prepared in advance.
This means that not only is your structure working for you. It also means that you are building trust. You care enough about your audience to change direction for them and you are confident enough in your material and your beliefs to change direction for them.
Listen, then to their comments, to their suggestions and the tone of their discussions.
So I have covered three areas of listening that will build the success of your persuasive speaking – knowing your audience, watching for opportunities to ramp up the energy and being adaptable.
Do you use any other listening techniques to successfully persuade?