07 Apr

Your audience is special?!

Different characters can be convinced by different methods. While writing your speech it is important to know characteristics of your audience and to make sure that the style of your presentation and your arguments stay on target.

Of course your audience usually consists of various personalities but ask yourself – do they have something in common, e.g. working in the same field or sharing a similar interest or motivation? Especially in this case take a closer look at them. Finding out the audience’s basic personality type can lead to a special design of your presentation. Some ideas how to develop your speech according to the majority of characters in the audience.

Idealists are sympathetic, helpful, loyal and patient. People of this type like to work together with others to achieve results but don’t have a need to appear in public. You will find idealists especially in caring professions like doctors at a hospital or social workers.

The dos…

  • focus on team orientation,
  • strengthen the sense of togetherness,
  • show care about people within and outside the audience;

the donts…

  • isolate a group or a person,
  • show contrasts (“what is right and what is wrong”).

Scientists, engineers and technicians match above-average to the type of a logician. This personality strives for perfection and is quality conscious. Focussing on facts they want to know possible consequences of activities.

The dos…

  • present facts and statistics,
  • structure your speech,
  • go into details;

the donts…

  • press them for time,
  • demand creativity or a broad variety of alternatives.

A communicator stands out for inspiration and entertainment. This proactive personality is a team player and likes to establish contacts. In shaping the environment she / he tries to involve others. Especially creative people and artists represent this type.

The dos…

  • provide entertainment and humor,
  • show passion,
  • make a creative and colorful presentation;

the donts…

  • scare them with negative conequences,
  • bore with facts and figures.

The dynamic person is usually dominant. Willing to take risks these people are decisive. They want to achieve results and overcome resistance of others. This group of people is highly represented by managers and entrepreneurs.

The dos…

  • show clear goals and visions,
  • be enthusiastic,
  • rise to a challenge;

the donts…

  • be sceptic and ask to many questions,
  • show weakness.

Of course all of this is a rough description and simple categorization of personality types. Nevertheless it can be a guideline when you prepare your speech.

23 Mar

Make them say “Yes” (1/2)

By experimental research Robert Cialdini found out major principles of persuasion. He focussed on the behavior of   “compliance professionals”, e.g. people working in sales, adertising or marketing. People working in these fields find themselves often in a position where they have to persuade their vis-à-vis for a positive decision.

Usually a speaker isn’t in such a “dialogue” situation, but she / he also wants to convince the audience of an opinion or make them agree to the speech content. So why not try to adapt Cialdini’s principles of persuasion to your speech?

Reciprocation or “give & take”

It’s human nature that we respond to try to react in a corresponding matter to someone’s (friendly) gesture or action. This principle is used in sales – you get a taster or a freebie and feel obliged to buy a product or service. As a speaker you usually would not scatter little presents among your audience like pens or pocket lighters.

But sometimes you have prepared a handout of your presentation anyway. So why not handing it on to your audience with a remark like “It was an additional effort for me to prepare this handout / paper but I thought it might be useful for you.” May be you have arranged an object of demonstration or a special simulation to support your speech. Talk about it: “Especially to make it clear for you I have this and that, I hope you like it”. Receiving a “gift” like this makes your audience feel that they are in your debt. The need to “repay” can lead them audience to agree, for example if you need acceptance of a proposal or a project.

Commitment and consistency or “yes, yes, yes”

Once we are dedicated or used to an activity or an attitude we usually remain constant to it. Quite the same is with opinions or commitments.  The challenge is to find a basic opinion or question the audience will easily approve. Have a look at your them main idea or assumption of your speech, is there a part in it acceptable for everyone? Then you can build on this first acceptance and create a chain of agreements that lead to your request.

Let’s make a simple example. If you want to convince your audience to exchange conventional bulbs to energy-efficient lamps you probably won’t succeed with a statement like “You should exchange every bulb in your household immediately!”.  Instead try this one

  1. For sure reduction of CO2 emission is a major challenge of our society.
  2. Do you agree that energy efficiency is a key factor for reduction of CO2 emission?
  3. And everyone can contribute to make energy consuptiom more efficient.
  4. Even small measures are helpful.
  5. It’s clear that it’s up to each and everyone of us to each do something about it.
  6. So a change to a change to energy-efficient lamps can be implemented easily by everyone.

Social proof or “success by imitation”

Our behaviour is mostly orientated to successful patterns we already know. Feeling uncertain about an issue we try to follow proven examples and decide in accordance.

Ask yourself: How do recommondations for a product or a service affect your personal buying decision? So by mentioning successful examples of similar cases in a speech your audience will follow the suggestions you make. Try to provide cases where the concept or the ideas of your presentation were already effective.

pictures:
S. Hofschlaeger  / pixelio.de
Thommy Weiss  / pixelio.de

12 Mar

Proverbs liven up your speech

Speaking freely in a presentation or a key note you will certainly   know the language you are communicating in well. Though, especially in a professional environment, it may not be your mother tongue, it could be for example the country’s lingua franca or English. So you know the content of your speech but want to liven it up?

Of course there are many techniques how you can deliver a lively speech. What about using linguistic idioms? Idioms have several advantages, for example

  • you can use them as a conclusion to point out the main point of the visual type of the language catches the audience,
  • you create a feeling of familiarness if your audience knows the idiom.

Being a non native speaker, how will you find a suitable proverb? You will certainly know a suitable idiom of your mother tongue but usually translating it 1:1 into let’s say English an English / US-American audience won’t understand it. Translation tools like Google Translate come to their limits. You need an expression fitting to the particular context of a pthoroughroverb but not a translation word by word.

Using online dictionaries might be more helpful. Here are some examples I found online:

  • leo.org
    DE Man soll den Tag nicht vor dem Abend loben.
    EN Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.
  • languagerealm.com
    FR C’est au pied du mur qu’on voit le maçon.
    EN The tree is known by its fruit.
  • pons.com
    ES Camarón que se duerme se lo lleva la corriente.
    EN Devil take the hindmost.

Including proverbs into your next speech will make it even more lively! Furthermore doing so you show thorough understanding of the language itself.