To master persuasive public speaking, use authority persuasion. The human brain is persuaded or influenced by many things. One is authority.
Before considering how to use this in public speaking, first consider how it works.
A classic example of authority influencing actions happened back in the early 1960’s.
Dr Stanley Milgram devised a series of experiments to answer the question of guilt where there was a claim of just following orders from an authority figure. The number of people who complied was around 50%.
Rather than reading the experiment, why not watch it. Do you know the implications for public speakers. When done, read on.
The Milgram Experiment
Be an Authority and Use Authority to Persuade
To be an authority and tap into the authority influence requires following the principles or pillars of speechmastery.
What You Say
How you say it.
How you present yourself.
Use the right words by mastering the speech skills and present yourself with class.
This makes your presentation appear authoritative. To take it to the next level, add authority to what you say. Accomplish this by referring to an authoritative figure.
Consider this true story.
A True Authority Persuasion Story
Let me illustrate authority persuasion.
As a hospice nurse, my expertise is in palliative care and especially pain management. One day when visiting a patient in an assisted living facility the assigned patient had pain. In particular it was pain related to a recent broken bone resulting from a fall.
On asking the attending nurse to administer ibuprofen, she asked if we shouldn’t be giving morphine. To further complicate maters, the director of nursing was present. She said, "If my mother ever needs your services I sure hope you give morphine."
Rather than asserting my own authority and expertise, I pulled out the evidence in the form of a medications use guidelines book. This is a book that has all the evidence based medical studies on pain management.
Disclaimer This is not intended to encourage you to treat, manage or diagnose your own health challenges related to pain. People who are allergic to aspirin or have other health problems possibly should not use this medicine with out talking to a health care professional first.
Then opening the book to the appropriate section, showing it to both professionals, and reading with a little editorial it sounded like this...
'Lets see, according to the pain management use guidelines right here, it says that the drug of choice is ibuprofen. Notice that 600 milligrams is three times as effective as 5 milligrams of morphine and has a longer half life.'
'Next the collaborative buy in was added. According to this (the authority) which do you think we should use first? If it doesn’t work, we can always work our way up the ladder.'
Even though my expertise is in a few different areas of nursing, it has never diminished my expert status to divert to a higher authority. Even doctors have asked me to train them or for my advice based on my experience. Unless there is an emergency, an authority is always the best way to make a recommendation.
You can imagine how well it went with the nurses. Not only was the argument won, two allies were won as well.
In public speaking, if your going to read from an authority such as a book or publication, pick up your notes or outline and hold it up as you read. This allows you to maintain a minimal audience contact.
Failure to do this results in loss of audience contact, poor voice posture (your head pointed down) and not to mention that it’s bad form. If you have ever seen a speaker looking down to read you will understand.
It is best usually not to take the book with you and especially if you have more than a one reference to read from. Save the reading for the most important. Paraphrase or quote the rest.
Your ethical use of authority persuasion can enhance your expert status. Best of all, you help your audience reach their goals or meet their needs. So persuade your audience by quoting an authority.
Persuasive Speech Home and more about the persuasive speech process.