To Influence Others, Be Audience-Driven

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As you know, Presentation Excellence helps executive presenters become polished presenters who close more deals by adhering to the ADAP principles: audience-driven, authentic presentations. (See prior blog items and information on Unfortunately, not everyone follows this advice, and it’s worth noting when it doesn’t happen, so we will follow it.

Peter Baker, in his Wall Street Journal article of February 19, 2015, notes that President Obama was speaking to a group of leaders recently and tried to rally them behind a renewed attack on terrorism. Rather than focus on mobilizing military might to stop ISIS from expanding its advance and reducing its current power-base he took a different tact. He called on all nations to “put an end to the cycle of hate†by expanding human rights, religious tolerance and peaceful dialogue.

Clearly, this is an authentic message for Mr. Obama , who believes that radicalism is fueled by political and economic grievance. But was it audience-driven? “His audience of invited guests, putative allies in a fresh international counterterrorism campaign, included representatives from the world’s least democratic and most repressive countries. (Italics added).†Indeed, many of these international actors are responsible for such grievances.

While the US may be dependent on them for intelligence and cooperation for future attacks, expecting them to suddenly change their human rights agendas probably wasn’t realistic. Indeed, many of these autocratic regimes are using the fight on terrorism to go after their political foes without worrying about American disapproval.

To truly influence people (whether they’re world leader s, corporate buyers, investors, etc.), you must know your audience’s current position, determine what message will resonate (e.g., we need to work together to fight the worst of the terrorists (ISIS, Al-Queda, etc.)), and deliver it at a time and place where they will be most receptive to hearing the message. (So sales meetings right after lunch or at the end of the day may be a challenge!) A message that does not resonate will be rejected; practical comments (e.g., what can each of you do today to make a difference) will be accepted; comments that miss the bulls-eye are distractions and don’t generate the actions you’re trying to influence. So always take the time to truly know your audience and how to present a message that will spur the desired action.

Are your presentations always hitting the mark? What experiences and tips do you have to help others always present an audience-driven message? Share with us.