Learn from my flaws to become more persuasive

Alan H. Monroe used the psychology of persuasion to develop an outline for making speeches that will deliver results. It's now known as’ Monroe's Motivated Sequence.’

  1. Step One: Get Attention
  2. Step Two: Establish the Need
  3. Step Three: Satisfy the Need
  4. Step Four: Visualize the Future
  5. Step Five: Action/Actualization

I am a pretty good presenter/speaker. When I think about the process I go through, it is quite different. I am not going to give you a full treatment on the topic, but want to focus on one critical element that applies to speeches, presentations and in fact any human interaction.

I know this because this is my personal weakness and feel the effects personally when it does not happen.

The problem is with Step 1: A speaker does not need to ‘get attention’. When people are sitting in the audience, the speaker is introduced and you step forward… you have their attention. You can screw it up and lose it, but you don’t have to do anything to get it.

What needs to happen is that the audience needs to LIKE you.

That is why so many speakers start with a joke. Humour is a way of being likable. The problem is that few speakers can actually carry a good joke. I am one of those.

There are many alternatives, but they all have one thing in common: authenticity. You can’t pretend to be anything you are not. (Including being a comedian.) People can relate to authenticity – warts and all.

It does not mean you can screw up your presentation or that you can get away with not being an expert on the topic and so forth; but I consider those as givens.

Consider everything you are going to say or do in the light of likability. Here are two angles of approach – which I will leave you to think about.

  • People like people who are like them.
  • People like people who like them.

The question is: how do you use either/both of these facts to achieve greater likability?

You see, I am a bit of a smart arse. I like to be right. (I very often am, but that does not achieve likability – quite the opposite, because people don’t like to find out they are wrong.) I approach things from a logical perspective, ignoring the emotional dimension. This is wrong and ineffective.

So I have to work hard at fighting my natural instincts. Of course I want to find the right answer because deep down I believe that if people knew what was right, that it would be better for them. But people don’t want to be right. People don’t want to be ‘saved’ from their erroneous ways; people want to be liked (and loved) more than they want to be ‘right’.

Persuasion, selling, and presenting are about emotions first and foremost.