you’re not Preaching to the Choir: Part 1
Talking to “friendly” audiences—those who share our view—is often
referred to as preaching to the choir. The task is usually easy, but
trying to persuade “unfriendly” audiences—those whose view differs from
ours is often difficult. Here are five things that may help you when you
are not preaching to the choir.
- Consider not stating the main idea at the outset. Although speakers
usually state their point and then support it, with unfriendly audiences
it's often better to present the support in such a way that the
conclusion follows logically.
- Don't become conceited or antagonistic or project a superior
attitude of "I know more about this than you do." Audiences are turned
off by such behavior. If you come across this way to the audience, you
had just as well end your talk and leave.
- Emphasize similarities you have with the audience. Research shows
clearly that we are influenced most by people we think are like us. We
trust these speakers and believe they understand who we are.
- Demonstrate genuine concern for individuals in the audience. Put
your arguments in the context of how and why adopting your view will
either help them or else save them from cost and inconvenience.
- Be honest and straightforward; there's no substitute for integrity.
Studies show honesty and integrity are the most important qualities when
leading or attempting to persuade someone else—even more important than
how expert or competent others consider the communicator to be.
Next month I will suggest some more things to keep in mind when you are
talking to "unfriendly" audiences. They are good to keep in mind when you
are preaching to the choir too.