010: Mini Moved Me - On Authenticity

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Hey everybody!  Today I want to introduce you to a new concept - the Mini Moved Me!

A mini - a smaller version of the real thing. But hopefully no less fun, entertaining, thoughtful and valuable!

I thought Christmas Eve might be the perfect time to publish my first Mini Moved Me… why?  Because honestly, who has time to during the holidays to spend selfishly listening to things you love?  Hmmm, not me!  So, I wanted to make this short and sweet!

Today’s episode is about authenticity. I wrote a blog post about these awhile back, and wanted to share it with you here.

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I’ve got to be honest: one of the most frustrating things I find when I’m trying to put together a persuasive speech are the gazillions of how-to lists that will make it “effective” and “powerful” and “attention-grabbing.”

Ok, sure: “Follow these 10 simple steps…,” and voila – you are a great speaker!

They aren’t wrong, necessarily. There are, of course, many things you can do to become a skilled speaker.  People need to hear you clearly; you can write and re-write your content for better flow; you can work on your gestures and movements; etc., etc., etc.  These are all important.

But there is something much more basic—and yet something much more challenging—that most of those lists are missing.  The real key to persuading an audience has actually very little to do with your skill, but rather it has everything to do with your story.  If you’re going to truly persuade your audience, it takes something much deeper and more intimate than any “steps.”  To really persuade an audience you must be authentic.  In other words, you must share who you really are.

By sharing our own stories, we open up the chance that someone might hear us as more than just “one-sided,” trying to persuade an unwilling listener – and we might find some common ground in our common experience of living.

The presumption is that if you don’t already agree with me, we aren’t likely to agree easily. (If you already agree with me, then great! Let’s hang out and talk about how right we are!)  The real challenge lies in persuading someone who has taken you for a fool, for someone who ‘doesn’t get it’; or they believe you are just plain wrong.

What then?  How do you open up the conversation?  How can you get someone to see beyond the wall of division that stands between you?

You have to somehow crack, ever so slightly, the doorway to an imaginative and emotive connection. Especially in matters of persuasion, you have to avoid shutting down the “conversation.” Standard clichés and didactic lectures and attention-grabbers won’t do the trick.  Even with compelling evidence, you as speaker will likely be turned ‘off’’ unless you can open up an avenue to listening.

But a story?  A story invites someone into a more complicated world where we might find the grey of common ground, or the empathy of compassion. There, where my experience reminds you of your experience.  Where we both have lived through something similar.  Where the truth of my life can speak to the truth of your life—far beyond a bumper sticker, political slogan, or one-sided debate.  That’s where persuasion occurs.  That’s where most of life is lived… and where we should continue to share it.