Evaluating RNC Speakers: How to Influence An Audience
The Republican National Convention offered a chance to examine our ability to influence others in the workplace.
Every single speaker on that stage in Cleveland wanted to influence us. They wanted us to take a clear and decisive action: Vote Trump/Pence.
Their approaches were as diverse as their backgrounds. Chris Christie used theatrics, Eric Trump applied evidence, and Ted Cruz carefully omitted words that he was expected to say. Donald Trump himself tried to influence our vote by painting a dark picture of a country without his style of leadership.
Who was most influential?
To answer that question we need to review more than just their speeches and how they were delivered. We must also examine our perceptions before these speakers walked to the podium. Consider how you would perceive their message if you believe they shared your values, had a strong record of accomplishments, and had a positive reputation among people you respect. What if the opposite were true?
In the same way, we must consider our colleagues’ perceptions of us before we try to influence them.
Influence is not accomplished in just one shot. When reflecting on these speeches consider how the presenters applied the elements of influence:
1. Emotional appeal – Whether speaking of threats to the country’s safety or the scarcity of jobs, scare tactics are one way of influencing through emotions; and they were used effectively by several speakers. These tactics generated an emotional response from the listeners and contributed to influencing listeners to vote Trump/Pence.
How do you employ emotions as a way to get a reaction from the audience?
2. Clarity – Each speaker needed to be clear about what they wanted to achieve, and how it aligned with their audience’s concerns. Prior to writing their speeches, they analyzed their audience. Then, they illustrated how their candidate could address the audience’s issues.
What questions do you have to ask about your audience to ensure you understand their perspectives and concerns so you can address these clearly?
3. Competence – When illustrating his father’s competence, Donald Jr. used a creative description saying, “a president….who has actually signed the front of a paycheck”. Presenting competence as a means of influence doesn’t have to be full of detailed facts. It simply has to be believable.
Will your audience recognize your competence? Will they trust that you can deliver on your promises?
4. Relationship – Having relationships with the right people can help build your reputation. The relationships that the speakers had with Trump started long before the campaign began. These relationships are being carefully leveraged when Trump needs them the most.
Whom do you need to build relationships with so they can be advocates for you?
5. Communicate – Many of these speeches were structured both logically and passionately. They incorporated compelling stories strong audience engagement (as when Chris Christie invited the audience to declare “Guilty or not guilty!” in his list of “charges” against Trump’s opponent).
How do you communicate your messages? How do you tell stories to influence others?
The convention is over and another one is about to begin. Let’s put a mirror to ourselves and assess how well we are applying these elements of influence. How influential can WE be?