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At college abroad, you may come across plenty of occasions where the need of the hour will be to convince, persuade, and make others act. Maybe you want to start a campaign to introduce a women’s chess club on campus. Or you may want to galvanize your team into electing the right person for captain in your college volleyball team.
Your job will then be not just to convince someone that they need to act, but to also make them see how they can act. If you’ve ever come away motivated by a speech or TED Talk to the extent that you actually act on your motivation, then you’ve probably been sneakily hit by Monroe’s Motivated Sequence.
Now you can learn to use it yourself in your speeches and presentations, and get people to take action instead of just nodding along in inspired agreement.
What is Monroe’s Motivated Sequence?
A Purdue University Professor Alan H. Monroe came up with a series of steps to go through in order for a speech to be persuasive. His work in the twenties is still popular now because it is effective and functional.
The five-step sequence may make life a lot easier for you in your academic life and in the boardroom beyond. And there’s no better place to practise than in college. You can use these steps in a variety of situations, to achieve the results that you want.
Step One: Use Whatever It Takes to Grab Attention
This step is intuitive, and you may realize that the best speeches you’ve heard hold your attention right from the beginning. When you carefully break down these speeches, what do you see? The speaker has probably used some every specific element to catch your attention in the first few seconds and hold it.
Just as the opening line of a book can win or lose the reader, the opening of your speech or presentation will determine how many people actually listen to what you say and how many zones out.
Storytelling is a very effective way to open. It’s a part of the introduction to your presentation or speech. In this opening, you’re essentially telling people why they should listen to you, what gives you credibility and authority to speak on the subject. Your stories should also be curated to fit the audience.
For instance, are you trying to convince a group of people to help you clean up the beach in town? Convince a group of animal lovers with a story of how a dolphin came up entangled in plastic. Such a story won’t always hold the attention of those on the hunting club (although many animal lovers are also hunters and vice versa.)
You can also use rhetorical questions, a shocking statistic or humour to get the audience to take notice.
Step 2: Convince Them There’s a Need
Now that you have your audience’s attention, you need to convince them that the way things are can’t go on forever. That something needs to be done because there’s a problem. There are a few elements that are known to work with audiences.
Statistics, for instance, are very convincing. Tell people that sexual harassment in the classroom is reaching high levels, and people will nod and agree. Tell them that two out of five women are sexually harassed every week, and the audience will sit up.
Another way to convince people that there’s a problem is to talk about the consequences of letting things be as they are. Is the college cafeteria serving food that you believe is not as healthy as it can be? Do a little research. Find out the ingredients that you think are harmful, and project a picture of what harm they can cause in the long term.
Most importantly, make your audience see how they are directly affected by the problem. Only activists fight for the causes of others. Most of us have limited resources that we’d only like to use to fight for causes that affect us.
At this stage of your presentation, you want your audience to squirm in their chairs. Don’t give them the solution yet.
Step 3: Present Your Solution
Now you can go ahead and discuss the facts and offer your solutions. Remember, you’re not trying to satisfy your audience that there’s a solution. You’re trying to make it clear that the audience can be satisfied by meeting the needs that you’ve described.
Clearly present examples, statistics and testimonials that support the solution. Be prepared for objections, and counter them without being asked. You have to clearly state what you want the audience to do. Explain it in detail and show the listeners how the solution works.
Step 4: Paint a Picture
So, to summarize so far, you have grabbed the attention of your audience, made them see there are a need and a solution. Now you need to persuade the audience that this solution is the right one to help them meet their need. Only when you can make your audience clearly visualize the solution and how it’s going to work is your speech going to pay off.
You can do this in three ways. You can show them what will happen if they don’t act. You can show them what will happen if they do act. Or you can present the picture that nobody wants – the future of not taking action. Then talk about the scenario where the audience does take action, and how positive it will be in contrast.
Step 5: Make them Act
The final step to achieve is actualization. You have to give your audience a list of specific things they can do to change the situation. Tell them to meet the person in charge to sign up for beach cleaning, for instance. Invite them to a meeting to discuss a more complex problem and its solutions. But don’t overwhelm them with too many things to do.
And lastly, help your audience feel more strongly connected to their choice to act. Point them in the direction of the refreshments while you walk around taking questions.
When you think about it, you probably use Monroe’s Motivated Sequence on a daily basis to get things done. But when you know the structure and psychology of what works to persuade people, you can convince more people, more often. Good luck
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“People who succeed have momentum. The more they succeed, the more they want to succeed, and the more they find a way to succeed. Similarly, when someone is failing, the tendency is to get on a downward spiral that can even become a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
— Tony Robbins