Summer Persuasion – Taking a look at the masterful art of influence and persuasion PART 1

In the lazy days of summer let’s take a leisurely look at the masterful art of influence and persuasion. The power of persuasion and influencing people it an ancient art that can take on many forms. It can be in the form of a speech, getting that raise you want, getting more resources or the implementation of an idea or suggestion.

Part One – Speeches

One of the most influential speeches I have ever read was that of Sojourner Truth. Sojourner Truth was a slave in 1851 and spoke at the Women’s Rights convention in  Akron, Ohio. She had a very tough audience. There were several men who spoke of the superior intellect of men and many of the women in the audience did not want her to speak fearing  the women’s movement would be adversely affected by the abolishment movement. Truth would not be silenced and gave the rousing, “Ain’t I a Woman” speech.

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Take a look:

“Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that ‘twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what’s all this here talking about?

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ar’n’t I a woman?

Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ar’n’t I a woman?

I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman?

I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what’s this they call it? [member of audience whispers, “intellect”] That’s it, honey. What’s that got to do with women’s rights or negroes’ rights? If my cup won’t hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn’t you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back and get it right side up again!

And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them. Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain’t got nothing more to say.”

Stay tuned next week for Pamela’s evaluation of this speech and the persuasion it generates.

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Saying Less, Meaning More – Communicating with Purpose

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Understanding how and why we communicate is another essential step in learning how to become a strong public speaker. We interact with people every day yet most of us don’t truly process the messages we are putting out there – we tend to rush in and out of conversations without realizing what we comprehend. Learning the basic concepts of communication will give you the skills to improve your presentation framework and become a better listener.

The building blocks of communication

Effective communication takes a creator, a message and a receiver. The creator’s job is to have an idea or concept to be communicated, but its true responsibility is to craft a clear and concise message. The receiver’s job is to provide their full attention and actively comprehend what is being said.

Though it’s not all that simple, communication can get complicated and messages can be misconstrued. Different audiences have different communication barriers – understanding the following obstacles to make sure your message passes from creator to receiver is the ultimate goal.

Audience barriers to consider:

  1. Culture
  2. Language
  3. Values
  4. Beliefs
  5. Attitudes
  6. Expectations
  7. Intentions

Take extra care to see what may be standing in the way of a clear communication path. Your persona, language and body language all impact the transmission of your message. Your experience and comfort levels with public speaking will also have an impact on your delivery – while you want to perceive a positive message, your nervousness may confuse your audience because of your negative body language.

Similar to the creator, a receiver has a personal background, beliefs and experiences that affect how the message is received. Knowing your audience and crafting your message to best suit them is going to make your message execution a success.

Another important factor in good communication is learning styles. The best presentations incorporate all learning preferences such as auditory, visual and tactile. Visual audiences are stimulated by photographs and dimensional models. Auditory learners are attuned to tone, pitch, volume, vocal variety and the use of pauses. And tactile experts need to touch a prop or participate in some sort of activity. Never assume an audiences learning style, incorporating them all gives your presentation a better understanding and greater depth.

A simple, concise and coherent message is one that integrates all elements by neutralizing personal biases, using an appropriate communication medium and by catering to the receiver’s needs. It may seem like a lot to execute but by controlling as many aspects to your performance as you can the greater success and clarity your audience will take away.

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Pronunciation Tools and Tips For the English Language

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Pronouncing words in English can be frustrating and difficult when English is your second language. You may find your mouth can’t make the right shape and people have trouble understanding what you are saying. This is a common problem because the muscles in your lips and tongue are not accustomed to making the shapes that are found in English.

The shape your mouth, the position of your lips and teeth in your native language is very different from the way your mouth needs work when speaking English. Your muscles don’t know how to move. The key is to train your muscle to move in this new way. It is called muscle memory. Muscle memory is a type of movement with which the muscles become familiar over time. For example, newborns don’t have the muscle memory for movements like walking or crawling.

The only way for the muscles to become accustomed to these movements is for the baby to learn how to do these activities and practice the movements repeatedly and with a great deal of trial and error. Gradually, as the baby becomes a skilled walker or crawler, she falls less, is able to balance, and finally is able to incorporate other activities into her life such as running. It is the same for speaking English; you must train your mouth, lips, teeth and tongue to form the correct sounds. It will take time but with practice your speech muscles will know what to do automatically when you speak in English.

Here are things you can do to create muscle memory for speaking English:

  • Record your voice and listen for pronunciation mistakes. While nearly everyone hates to hear their voice on tape it is necessary to hear what your speech sounds like before you can change it. Your will also hear your pronunciation errors and become conscious of these errors.
  • Pronounce the consonants and end of words. Pay special attention to T’s, S’s, Th’s, and ed endings For example: T – Cost, Lost, S – Chess, Dress, Th – That, Three, Ed -Decided, Attended
  • Slow down your speech. When you speak quickly with the incorrect rhythm and intonation English speakers have a hard time understanding you. So until you learn the correct word stress, intonation and rhythm it is best to speak slowly and be understood. People care more about what you are saying and understanding than they do about the pace.
  • Look at the mouth shapes and movements of native speakers and attempt to imitate them. A good time to practice this is when you are watching TV. Observe the way native speakers place their mouth and try to make the same shapes. Repeat what they say and try to maintain the same rhythm, intonation and word stress.
  • Make a list of the words that are difficult for you to pronounce. Have a native speaker record the words that are difficult for you to pronounce and listen to these words and practice saying them.
  • Read a loud in English 15 minutes a day. Reading aloud will increase your vocabulary and strengthen the muscles needed to make the correct English sounds. Studies have shown () that it takes approximately three months of daily practice to strengthen and develop the muscles need to speak a new language.
  • Listen to books on tape. Visit your local library or buy books on tape. Combine this with the book in written form. This will increase your vocabulary and you can listen and read at the same time. You will learn how to correctly pronounce words and irregular verbs. You can also record yourself reading the same passage as the speaker from the book and compare. •Practice with tongue twisters. Tongue twisters are another great way to strengthen the mouth and tongue muscles you use when speaking English.
  • Be patient. Change takes time. Your speech will change but not overnight. This is often the problem; people want instant results. It times time, commitment and practice. Don’t be discouraged, your hard work will payoff.

Practice Tongue Twister:

  • A box of biscuits, a batch of mixed biscuits – A skunk sat on a stump and thunk the stump stunk, but the stump thunk the skunk stunk.
  • Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. Did Peter Piper pick a peck of pickled peppers? If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?
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Stress Recess: The Fight or Flight Response

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When we are put in high stress situations it is natural for our bodies to work to protect us. In these adrenaline-based states we have a physical response – we change and adapt to make us stronger, faster and more alert. We instinctively run away, or fight it out.

Why does this happen? The answer is in our brain. The amygdala, an almond-shaped brain structure, has forever been linked to a person’s mental and emotional state – it holds all painful experiences, poor performances and embarrassing moments. So if you have felt embarrassed or uncomfortable during a past speech, the amygdala will link up your past experience with that present instance. But the wonderful thing is, like the power of the brain, you can go back and reprogram yourself.

It’s typically recommended you “take a deep breath,” before your speech which isn’t the best thing to do. This inhale excited the central nervous system and stimulates that fight or flight response that we don’t want to come into play. A simple breathing exercise is to take a small sip of air for a count of 2, breath out for 4 counts and begin.

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Stress Recess: Mental Rehearsal and Preparation

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Effective communication requires practice – when you are prepared, you’ll feel much more relaxed and confident. Know your information, practice your techniques and get yourself acquainted with the area you’ll be presenting in.

Relaxation techniques are key to managing your nervous energy, when this happens, find a place to quietly put yourself at ease. Dissipate your energy by taking a walk, jumping up and down and shaking your hands – easing the physical tension will ease the mental tension.

Another way to promote a calm presence is to make relaxation or meditation a part of your everyday life. You will learn to control your emotional state by reading your favorite book, exercising, feeling and being positive.

When you know what to expect, you are less nervous – this is why rehearsal and practice is so important. Remember that you want adrenaline, just not too much. Use the rest of your energy to fuel your presentation with immaculate strength!

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Stress Recess: Managing fear so it doesn’t manage you

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Fear and anxiety take away your power and confidence – they prevent you from expressing your ideas and opinions. And you’re not alone, as many at 75 per cent of people suffer from public speaking anxiety. The trick is to understand and control it – by understanding its origin, you can overcome it.

First, you need to start thinking about nervousness in a different way. That fear is really your body’s tension to energize itself, being an energetic speaker is a great thing! But learning to control and equalize that energy is another.

Fully feel the way your body reacts to speaking in public. It may be uncomfortable but it will benefit you in understanding what situations or triggers put you in a fearful state.

Formal exercise:

  1. When you start to feel yourself becoming overwhelmed by anxiety, stop. Slow down.
  2. Before you begin your presentation, let the audience settle.
  3. Take a small sip of air… for a count of 2… then breath out for 4 counts.
  4. On the next intake of breath, begin.

This breathing technique will give you the knowledge to begin smoothly and using it in frequency will make all of your speeches concise.

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Release your voice by exercising your voice

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Strengthening your voice over time is just as important as those hee’s and hum’s we do right before a speech. Practice these few exercises – they are great at improving your vocals and supporting your congruency. Learning to manipulate you voice, breath and body will help with your ability to speak clearly and correctly. Make it a habit of speaking these aloud!

Tongue Twisters – challenge yourself to not stop till you get it right

Poetry – poems are designed to be read aloud. Their sounds and rhythms are music in itself

Read aloud – listen to audiobooks and pay attention to their speaking patterns and pauses. Reflect those habits in your own speech

Sing – what a great way of stretching your voice by challenging yourself to sing an Adele classic – aspire to have a vocal range as she does

These little exercises make all the difference – take the initiative and practice right now!

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