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Articles on Persuasion > Four Audiences
Critical | Uninformed | Sympathetic | See also
There are four different types of audience you may have to persuade, who have
quite different attitudes towards you and who hence are persuaded by different
Sometimes an audience is openly hostile or generally tends to disagree with
you. Perhaps they do not want to be there. Perhaps they do not like your or what
- Work harder than usual on developing
- Carefully construct your presentation, either form an area of agreement or
from a point of disagreement.
- Establish basic principles before moving on to specific proposals.
- Challenge them. Show that they may be wrong or have incomplete evidence.
- Use reference sources and evidence that they find acceptable and cannot
- Use humor to disarm them.
- Show what does not work, leaving an inescapable conclusion.
Critical audiences consider themselves intelligent and probably more
intelligent than you. They will thus pick holes in what you say and disbelieve
- Use copious evidence with strong references.
- Do not exaggerate anything. If anything, play on the safe side.
- Use rational argument,
revealing premises and avoiding
- Argue both sides of the case with
- Be fair and reasonable.
- Respond to criticisms evenly and with rational argument.
People who do not have all the facts before them may well be open to
argument, particularly if it makes sense.
- Question them to find out
what they know and do not know.
- Give basic facts to fill in the detail.
- Use rational argument
to explain the logic.
- Use references and respected people to lend weight.
People who are sympathetic have an emotional attachment to you and are
easiest to persuade.
- Build a bond with them by
showing how you are they are similar
in some way.
- Make personal appeals, asking for their help.
- Trigger their emotions
- Just ask nicely (which may be all that is needed).
- In a group argument, get them on your side (which they may do anyway just
to balance things up).
Public Speaking and Presentation