October 21, 2009

What sings to you?

"If you change your emotions without warning, the audience will think you've given up."

This is akin to the old adage, Stick to Your Guns. In communication, this means acutely understanding and being able to articulate your motivation. No throwing everything up against the wall to see what sticks, to court favor with your listener. If you are persuading your listener to take action, you must believe wholly and passionately in the action for which you are advocating. Anything less telegraphs ambivalence. And ambivalence, on your part, results in your listener distrusting you.

To be an effective, persuasive communicator, follow this additional advice from my Improv Instructor, Pat Shay:

"What sings to you? Heighten it a little bit."

Think about what the action for which you are advocating means to you. How does it make you feel? Now, imagine that emotion saturating your body, "like water moving through a sponge."

"Draw your listeners in and make them care.

"We lay down a mat of context and weave our emotions through it. ...Scene work is the needlepoint and our emotions are the thread."

Facts and data do not cement our argument in our listener's mind; emotion - mindfulness combined with meaning - is the glue that holds together context, data, and calls to action.

1 comment:

  1. I love this idea of heightening what sings to you. As a nonprofit I often feel like we are walking a thin and precarious line between showing donors, funders, and users how effective and business like we can be while at the same time needing to communicate the urgency and intensity of our mission. One seems to call for the uber rational, the other for some heightened singing ;)

    As usual there is actually a middle ground - the ground where mindfulness is combined with meaning. If I could map (let alone remember) the times that I have stood in this middle ground, they would probably also be the most authentic and successful moments.

    Thanks for the reminder.



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