#65 Persuade through authentic vulnerability


This is our last episode on Emotion, which is one of the three Rhetorical Appeals used to persuade an audience as a speaker. This is going to be a longer episode as we review and close out the Constant Factor of Persuasion.


So far in Persuasion, we’ve talked about character and credibility, which is Ethos. This is a direct result of your persona or reputation and is built on your credentials and reliability, and is often established before you even start speaking and is confirmed when you open your mouth and start talking. Basically, ethos is what signifies to the audience you know what you are talking about.

The we talked about the second Rhetorical Appeal which is appeal to audience’s ability to reason… or logic. This does not mean to stand in front of your audience and spit out facts and numbers like a machine. What it does mean is for you to weave those facts and numbers into your message in such a way, that it appeals to the reasoning side of your audience.

We’ve spent the last three episodes talking about the third Rhetorical Appeal which is Emotion. Today, we conclude Emotion and the second Constant Factor of Platform Mastery, Persuasion.

For many years, emotion in business was considered a sign of weakness, or indecision, or lack of judgment, or something equally damning. Well, today, attitudes have shifted, and we now recognise the importance of emotion in creating meaningful connection with others, especially in communication.

Here’s what we now know… from brain research… without emotion there is no memory. Latest research suggests that it is the emotions aroused, not the personal significance of an event, that makes an event easier to remember.

So, if you want someone to remember you, or your ideas, or your pitch – you have to be emotional. We’ve already talked about the first tactic of Inclusion and in the last episode we talked about the second tactic, which is, The Phrase That Stays. Today we explore the third tactic, Authentic Vulnerability.

I’ve stood before thousands of audiences, ranging in all sizes from very small to very large, since I began my platform career at the age of 14. I can tell you… hand on heart… It can be scary place to stand.

Because it such an intimidating place, many people will not allow themselves to be authentically vulnerable. It’s much easier, much safer, to stand and deliver your message from behind a protective cloak of formality and facts.

It takes courage to speak to a group. It takes courage to be vulnerable. It takes courage to tell stories where you reveal your foibles and mistakes – to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart. And that courage is what is necessary to truly connect with an audience.

Brené Brown’s June 2010 at TEDxHouston Talk titled ‘The Power of Vulnerability’ has over 29 million views because it is fundamental to being a Platform Master. This talk is remarkable because it’s a good example of both an authentic, natural presentation, and the content of the presentation itself speaks to the need for a naked approach to communicating and to living in general.

So, the question now is, how does a public speaker stand before an audience with authentic vulnerability?

First, you have to make a conscious commitment to letting go of who you think you should be… to be who you are. This means, being authentic to the ‘you’ inside… the real you… and speak from your heart and head, not just your head.

Authentically vulnerable speakers are willing to reveal their own vulnerability through storytelling. When you share events and experiences that have happened to you personally, it helps build your credibility and connection with the audience. Your listeners can relate more easily when you do not present yourself as the hero in the story but rather the person who struggled before overcoming adversity.

If you want to stand before an audience and persuade them, to influence them, then you will need to use the emotional tactic of authentic vulnerability. You will need to know who you are, and the value of your message… and be confident in your ability to stand before them… unafraid… connecting with them… because you are real and not hiding behind numbers, charts and business speak.

Here’s the action point of the day.

I encourage you to go and watch Brené Brown’s June 2010 at TEDxHouston Talk titled ‘The Power of Vulnerability’. Watch it and take notes. The next time you are preparing to stand in front of an audience, ask yourself, “How can I show courage through authentic vulnerability, and win the hearts and minds of my audience?”

In the next episode, we will start our conversation about being an Impacting Platform Master.

There is more to come.

About the author: Eugene Moreau

Eugene Moreau is a Certified Master Coach, Author and Corporate Consultant with over 30 years experience. He is a Master Presenter and developer of the 13 Box Presentation System and The EPIC Presenters Masters of Influence programs.

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