Persuade Me

You may have noticed that I only communicate with you in writing.  Ok, yes, that’s because blogging is a written medium, except when it’s vlogging or some other means of demanding that people who have never met you become informed about the contents of your psyche.  But it’s also because I don’t talk so good.  If you were all here where I could see you, not only would I not deliver the amusing and sardonic commentary you come here for, I would lock myself in the bathroom, escape through the window, and hightail it to an undisclosed location. 


If there’s a topic on which I am unqualified to instruct others, it’s public speaking.  So naturally, since the Flying Spaghetti Monster has a wicked sense of humor, I have to instruct middle school students on the art of speaking, publicly and persuasively.  Since the FSM is also kind and merciful, I have to provide instructions in written form.  If I had to publicly and persuasively speak to the art of persuasive public speech, I would right now be holed up in a cave with Dick Cheney. 


It’s all about the book I’m working on.  My original manuscript dealt with persuasive writing.  It deals with speech only in terms of writing the speech.  But a written speech, unspoken, is of little use.  Even I can see that.  My editor wants spoken speech.  In writing.  She also wants other forms of persuasion.  Like what?  Good question.  I’ve been brainstorming for days.  Read that: trying to think of ways in which we use persuasion that are not just writing, while drinking a lot of coffee and fooling around on the internet. 


Help me, Xanga friends.  Tell me what you know about persuasive public speaking.  Tell me all the ways in which you use your skills of persuasion to get what you want.  (Keep it clean; I’m writing for middle school kids.)  The Flying Spaghetti Monster will surely reward your efforts.


17 thoughts on “Persuade Me

  1. Well, since my master’s was in argumentation and persuasion, I should have a lot to say about this. Sadly, my brain ain’t workin’ so good right now. Lemme see is the FSM will help me remember something pertinent and I’ll be back.

  2. Start with an anecdote that builds common ground and then list and elaborate on all the reasons why the audience should agree with your argument/opinion.  Examples grounded in reality are key.  Other areas where we use persuasion?  Parenting, buying/selling on ebay/craigslist/etc., recruiting volunteers, obtaining employment, convincing a group where to meet/eat…..

  3. The main thing I’ve learned of public speaking / teaching is DON’T STAND STILL. If you’re an animated person naturally, don’t stiffen up when you’re up there. If you’re not animated naturally, try to fake it. Even pace up and down if there’s room. Just think about it – how interesting do you find a stationary object?

  4. Damn – was off-topic. Persuasion? Just outline it clearly and point by point. Sounds rudimentary, but most people don’t do it ’cause they’re too caught up in theatrics. 

  5. Bad_Dogma summed it up very well. Is the  class for middle school students about being persuasive with their peers? I once did a presentation with my then husband on the Middle Ages for our nephew’s 6th grade class.  Our hidden point was that you really didn’t want to be rich and famous in the Middle Ages, especially if you were a woman.  We asked 5 of the kids at the beginning to choose a place and decade, and whether they were rich, poor or somewhere in the middle, and said that at the end of the class we would tell them how their lives turned out.  We also brought our collection of Medieval hats, and a video on  simulated sword and shield fighting.  The hats kept the attention of the girls, and the video of the boys.  And the “riddle” made them curious enough to keep listening.  At the end, we gave  answers about being killed in battle because of feudal obligations, or dying of the plague or begin married off to someone you’d never met, vs escaping battle or plague because you lived in Iceland on a farm, or being married to an apprentice in your father’s shop, and even being consulted about it.  This kept a personal connection for the kids with the material, and they didn’t know outright the point we were trying to make.  it was a surprise until the end.I think acknowledging the media that influences them is also important.  This is a generation of videogamers and texters, and graphic novels are hugely popular.  Points have to be short, and have some action. In the seminars that my company gets from motivational speakers, mostly directed at our store managers who are often under 25, the speakers also use a combination of carrots and sticks to keep people attentive.  They throw candy bars and t-shirts out to the participants (carrots) and pick on random individuals to answer questions (sticks). So, there is movement, use of visual aids, and active participation.

  6. What I know about persuasive public speaking:  put your best argument first.  Repeat yourself.  Keep the message short and simple.  Don’t ramble.  Look the audience in the eye.  Speak with passion.  I like to make three points in a persuasive argument (never more than three) and I like to make it very clear that I have three points.  For example:  Your Honor, the evidence was insufficient in three ways.  First, the State never introduced any evidence proving there were any drugs on the scene.  No ACTUAL drugs were found.  There were no drugs introduced at trial.  Second, the informant was a known liar.  Third, even if they had found drugs, there was no proof the defendant was living there.  What I know about other forms of persuasion:  bribery, flattery, negotiation.

  7. Hmmm… I’m actually very good at persuasion/speaking, but trying to dissect the whys and wherefores is daunting.  It’s important that the listeners feel that you connect with them in some way – that you and they share common ground, etc.  Whenever I’m talking to a client, I will modulate my voice tone and idiomatic expressions to ones they would be comfortable with – ie, blue collar vs white collar, middle/lower/high income, kids/no kids, religious/not religious, educated/uneducated, etc.  Every demographic has commonalities, and the more you can tap into those the more you’re accepted as ‘one of us’ – and, ergo, the more weight your opinions and comments are given.  So… study your audience beforehand, learn what they’re into, what they find funny (one of the surest ways to convince someone you know where they’re coming from is to understand what makes them laugh), and plan your speaking and delivery accordingly.  Watch great public speakers and study their body language, also – nonverbal communication is as important as verbal in convincing people you are who you say you are/want them to believe you are (just ask any lawyer – ha).  Open postures (arms wide, gesturing) indicate trustworthiness, standing straight rather than hunching your shoulders indicates confidence and assurance.  Look at the tops of people’s heads or right over their shoulders to make them feel like you’re looking AT them without actually locking eyes (which can be too invasive).And… keep us updated! 

  8. Wow, your xanga friends are very helpful, aren’t they!  Except this one.  Just wanted to say hi. Hope you are makign progress on your project.  Is anything to do with middle school pleasant? (-:

  9. Nope, came back a day later to see If I could add anything, and came up empty. I guess I don’t persuade well. I demonstrate fantastically. The way to do this right is do it just like you see here. Or tohellwhichya. Not very persuaive, I know. I must be new. Forgive me. FSM ? Generic non denominational moniker for Universal Power entity?

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