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Four Audiences

 

Techniques General Persuasion > Four Audiences

Hostile | 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 methods.

Hostile

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 you represent.

  • Work harder than usual on developing trust.
  • 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. Create tension.
  • Use reference sources and evidence that they find acceptable and cannot deny.
  • Use humor to disarm them.
  • Show what does not work, leaving an inescapable conclusion.

Critical

Critical audiences consider themselves intelligent and probably more intelligent than you. They will thus pick holes in what you say and disbelieve your assertions.

  • Use copious evidence with strong references.
  • Do not exaggerate anything. If anything, play on the safe side.
  • Use rational argument, revealing premises and avoiding fallacies.
  • Argue both sides of the case with pros-vs-cons reasoning.
  • Be fair and reasonable.
  • Respond to criticisms evenly and with rational argument.

Uninformed

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.

Sympathetic

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 (positive ones!).
  • 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).

See also

Public Speaking and Presentation

 

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