In the next several posts, I’ll focus on key components to developing persuasive narratives. Most often, an audience has at least a basic understanding of your topic. However, you need to move the audience from that state of minimal knowledge, or what I call unawareness, to a state that makes them want to follow your advice – you need to call them to action.
Your audience goes through five phases as they move from unawareness to action.
Let’s take a look at systematically moving your audience through these five phases and guaranteeing that your idea wins…
- How much does your audience know about your subject? Everyone in your audience has a certain level of knowledge about your topic. You don’t want to spend too much time telling people what they already know, but you don’t want to leave out important details.
- What is your audience’s attitude towards you? This is rather important and you must be honest. Are these listeners your biggest supporters? Or, is the group filled with anti-sponsors who, no matter how convincing the facts are, will find a reason to discredit you? Or, maybe they are just neutral?
- What is the “Desired Destination” for your listeners? You must determine your presentation’s “Single Presentation Objective.” Write it on a white board or on one of your PowerPoint slides. This is particularly important if you need to get a group to agree on the points of evidence to present.
- What are the three to five points of evidence that will drive your listeners to take action? If you have followed the process for determining the problem it answers, you now have mountains of evidence to persuade your audience. Remember, the human mind can only retain seven items (plus or minus two) at once. It is time to narrow the evidence to three to five statements you will use. Take a look at an example in the illustration. The three to five points form the top portion of our logic pyramid.
- What are the supporting facts that will enhance the clarity of those three to five points of evidence? You determined your Single Presentation Objective and you chose the supporting key line Statements. Looking at the illustration again, the supporting facts form the base of the logic pyramid.
- What do you want your listeners to feel, experience and remember? In order to move your listeners to belief, they need to make an emotional connection to you and your presentation. Remember, stories are an important factor in supporting a belief! People remember stories because they create lasting images.
- Do your listeners clearly understand what is in it for them if they act? Do they have a clear roadmap and next steps for acting? Outlining the action plan and gaining buy-in from everyone involved is your primary goal of the process.
In this post, I walked through the process your audience goes through as they move toward action at a high-level. In upcoming posts in the Communicate to Win series, I will drill down into the fundamental components of the five stages. Beginning with Part 22 – Tell Me a Story, I’ll cover using the art of storytelling as part of delivering your message.