Michael Dresser

Strategic Communication for Successful Persuasion

Sharpen Your Presentation Skills by Connecting with Your Audience

Wouldn’t it be great to construct a brilliantly orchestrated interview or presentation? It doesn’t just happen, it is an acquired skill—whether you are speaking to the public through the media or sitting in your office while promoting your business services. Presentations don’t just happen. You learn how to craft a presentation just like a pianist composes a classic concerto. It is a strategic process utilizing precise tactics that work toward a specific end result with impact and influence. Every word you say and the way that you say each word is planned—on purpose and deliberate. This allows you to achieve intentional results as opposed to accidental by-products. This strategic process accounts for the difference between luck and skill.

Strategic communication starts by creating, shaping, and finally delivering your message in an engaging and personal way for your audience. They have to see it, feel it, and experience it for themselves. If your audience doesn’t perceive personal involvement—if what they are hearing is not absolutely about them—you will lose their attention and their buy-in. Your audience will stop listening. They will drift away.

To persuade your audience or prompt them to respond to your call to action, you must elicit a perceived sense of personal involvement in your listeners. The poet Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This is so true.

You can begin this strategic process by learning how an audience relates to your specific topic and delivering your message in such a way that allows your audience to experience themselves within the message you present. You speak to your audience one person at a time; so think of your presentation as an intimate conversation with a friend, not a lecture to thousands. This key point is critical for your success whether you communicate on the radio, television, before a live audience, with a customer, or with an employee.

The word “intimate” provides your key to connection, and specific segments of your presentation must be tied together to accomplish this. Your audience hears in a particular language, and to become an effective, results-oriented communicator, you must learn to speak that precise language. Learning to have an intimate conversation with your audience begins with an approach: Learn how to speak to your audience, not at them. Lecturing and explaining will only cause your audience to get lost daydreaming.

I once worked with a client who owns a large adoption agency in northern California. She sent me a copy of a TV interview she had done the week before. She had intended to target her message to women experiencing an unwanted pregnancy. On the video, she explained to the host, let me repeat that; to the host “Women with unwanted pregnancies have specific challenges. They are burdened with the stress and fears of the unknown.” And the list went on.

For her next interview, I suggested that she say to the host, whether it is a man or a woman, “I am now going to wave my magic wand. You are now a woman with an unwanted pregnancy.” The host will laugh, but will say, “Yes.” Next she should say, “When you are frightened and you have nowhere to turn, when you are so stressed and you can’t find an answer” She is now talking directly through the host to that person in the audience who is sitting in the dark without an answer. Or; she is talking to a person who knows someone in that situation. The host now becomes a conduit.

Again, now she is not talking to the host. She is talking through and she produced some great adoptions from this technique. Why? Because her target audience recognized themselves in what she was saying, now she made it personal. This is the difference between talking to your audience and not at your audience. The now message becomes personal!

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