you’re not Preaching to the Choir: Part 2
Last month I suggested
five things to keep in mind when talking to “unfriendly” audiences—those
whose view differs from yours. Here are five more suggestions.
- Make certain you have your facts straight, for individuals in such
audiences may be looking for you to misspeak or use erroneous
- If you do misspeak, don’t let it slide hoping no one will notice;
correct yourself as soon as possible. If someone points out an error in
what you say, thank the person and promise to respond as soon as you can
check it out; then do it.
- Whenever possible, show association with experts on the subject but
don’t be a “namedropper.” The objective is to let the audience know you
have conferred with experts; it’s not to communicate your
- Avoid anything that could be interpreted as negative behavior.
Especially avoid offensive language, “out-of-bounds” or questionable
comments, stories or humor. And make certain you do not make negative
comments about beliefs, actions, institutions or persons for which the
audience has high regard.
- Project an image of approachability; smile and come across as a
likeable person with nothing to hide. The image you project goes a long
way toward getting people to listen to you and even to agree with what
As with the suggestions I gave last month, these things are good to
keep in mind either when you are preaching to the choir or you are not;
that is, when the audience is friendly or is not. But these suggestions
are especially important for non-choir audiences.