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Persuasive Presentations - Essay Example

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Persuasive Presentations

For most writers, that's presenting information, usually to an audience that's about as knowledgeable on the subject as we are. (Anthony 45-57) For presentations, that's a lethal combination. Factual information presented at a high level of technical expertise not only doesn't persuade, but may actually alienate the reader.
For thousands of years, people have tried to figure out the best way to persuade other people to do things. We know that persuasion has been the subject of serious study since the days of classical Greece. Plato worried about the rhapsodes' ability to appeal to citizens' emotions and persuade them to do things that were not in the best of interest of the city or themselves. And Aristotle wrote one of the great treatises on persuasion. (Rasmussen 23-36) Among the Romans the ability to persuade was considered a hallmark of responsible citizenship. Since World War II, researchers have worked particularly hard to identify the elements of persuasion. Why They have some practical motives: improving advertising and marketing campaigns, motivating audiences, influencing the electorate, girding consumers and voters against propaganda, understanding the dynamics of brainwashing, and- yes- writing better presentations. From all this speculation and research, four elements have consistently been a vital part of nearly every theory of persuasion: the message, the receiver, the channel, and the source. (Daley 79-83) Giving them some consideration will give us a deeper understanding of the process of persuasion.

Message
The impact of your message depends in part on whether the receiver is receptive to it to begin with. If the evidence or logic in a particular persuasive message is in line with the audience's basic values, beliefs, or biases, the receiver is more likely to accept it and modify his or her attitudes accordingly. If the evidence runs counter to the receiver's basic beliefs, persuasion is far less likely to occur. Thus, the way you frame your message with regard to your audience's preferences is critical. That may seem circular: You can persuade people to accept only the things they already accept or to do the things they already want to do. But that's not quite what's going on here. (Holcombe 112-24) There is a difference between a belief and an attitude. Someone may issue an RFP for new equipment because he or she believes that production efficiency can be improved by using more modern technology. If you can base your presentation on the same belief and then demonstrate how your equipment will introduce labor-saving enhancements, the receiver's attitude toward you as the most suitable vendor will change in a positive way. However, if you send out a canned presentation, one that emphasizes the ruggedness and durability of your machines, instead of their impact on production efficiency, you will be not be addressing the client's basic belief. (Anthony 45-57) As a result, you may not persuade him or her to choose you. This is the fundamental problem in submitting boilerplate presentations. Because customers vary widely in their beliefs and values, using the same text for everybody guarantees that a large percentage of them will find your message irrelevant or unconvincing.

Receiver
The receiver is a vital component of ...Show more

Summary

Most people are comfortable providing information. That's a writing or speaking task you probably feel good about. Evaluations are a little tougher for most of us, and if they involve touchy material, as a performance appraisal might, we may actually dread doing them…
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