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August 2007 - When you’re not Preaching to the Choir: Part 1

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John Kline, PhD, inspirational and motivational keynote and after-dinner speaker and corporate trainer.

August 2007

When 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 elseeven 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.


John Kline
Montgomery, Alabama

April 2007 - How to Win
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