Many of us cannot look beyond the terror of merely standing in front of an audience to even think about how we’re going to persuade them. I have worked with many students and young professionals to tackle the very common—but also very real—fear of public speaking.
An important first step is to stop thinking of listeners as an audience—at least in the sense that they present an opportunity for us to be heard. When we think of listeners as our audience, it’s all about us and the audience is merely there to gratify our needs.
Rather,we must think of the audience as listeners and ourselves as having a gift to offer. This is the essence of listener-centered persuasion.
Recognizing this overarching principle enables us to overcome our anxiety or stage fright. We can then deliver analytical and emotional appeals with more powerful effect than most of us have ever imagined. We can learn to craft analytical arguments that will be virtually guaranteed acceptance by the audience. We can harness our own emotion in a way that transfers a powerful energy and motivation to our listeners.
And we can do all this with personal power and authenticity.