This issue’s post
Over there is more important than over here
- You cannot influence an audience without knowing how they think or feel
- The current lack of understanding in the Brexit negotiations stands as a proof
In “Winning Hearts and Minds”, we assert that you can only really be successful as a communicator – to be able to persuade or inspire your audience – in other words, win their hearts and minds, if you, first of all, know how they are thinking and feeling before you start talking.
Proof of how this is the case can be seen in recent months by the lack of understanding in the Brexit negotiations. The UK negotiating team took their country’s requests and desires to Brussels without any thought as to how the EU negotiating team would respond. And, when the EU negotiators did respond – in a way that was totally logical for the situation – the UK delegation seemed surprised at the response.
Whether you are negotiating a multi-million pound/euro/dollar contract, trying to persuade the staff of a company to embrace change in the organisation, or even dealing with hostage-takers, you need to know their emotional and intellectual state in advance of your presenting, so that you can compose the right arguments which will achieve your goals.
Of course, that requires careful research and applied intelligence.
In Najberg Milne, we also advocate that you observe all presentations, however big or small, in whatever size meeting – and observe the bad stuff as well as the good. By observing problems like the EU negotiations, you will learn not to do that kind of thing yourself.
What’s in it for you?
The emotional tail
- In the business world we mostly talk to the rational “Adult”…
- …but the emotional “Child” may sometimes override it.
In our managing-business-relationships course – “Adult conversations”- we talk about the emotions and desires of “The Child” within us and contrast that with the logic and reason of the rational “Adult” within us.
Most of the time, when we communicate in the business world, we talk to the rational “Adult” knowing that good arguments will create the emotions that we want to create within our audience, like trust, reassurance and enthusiasm. However, we need to realise and accept that, occasionally, the desire and emotions (especially fear) of “The Child” can overwhelm the intellectual capacity of the Adult”.
As renowned psychologist, Jonathan Haidt, has said: “The emotional tail wags the rational dog.”
This has been demonstrated unambiguously – and with dramatic results – in both Europe and America over the past two years. In the USA, supporters of Hillary Clinton and in the UK, advocates for staying in the European Union addressed their audiences rationally about the issues that faced both countries in the future. What they did not do was address how their audiences felt – the fears they had – about the future. By ignoring the feelings of their audiences and by simply talking about what they wanted to talk about, they/we ended up with Brexit and Donald Trump.
Always remember, when you are trying to persuade people towards a certain course of action, you must win both their hearts and their minds.
This issue’s Speaker
This is how it is done
- There is a lot to learn from great speakers…
- …such as: pauses, preparation, humour and honesty.
In 2011 Barak Obama addressed the British parliament and discussed how the special relationship between the United States and Great Britain could continue to help the two nations.
You can see the speech here.
The speech is fairly long and contains quite a lot of technical political detail, but we can all learn from the delivery demonstrated in this clip:
- There are 3 speakers and each one uses effective pauses to let the points that they are making sink in.
- The control demonstrated by these pauses can only be executed after extremely thorough preparation. The two British politicians: the speaker and deputy speaker of the House of Commons certainly would not have wanted to make any mistake in such distinguished company; and it was Barak Obama’s regular routine – after he had had an early dinner with his family – to go to his study in The Residence of the White House and work till the early hours of the morning on his speeches. That was why he was as good as he was – and still is.
- Obama uses humour to vary his speech despite the seriousness of it.
- He is also very honest: admitting to shortcomings in both countries and not sugar-coating his message. This could have been a temptation for a lesser speaker, but that would have diminished his credibility.