How to make an audience care about your causeDo you have a cause that you are beyond passionate about? Is your goal to inspire others to join you in your passion? Today’s, Speech Doctor Is In question comes from Richard who asks:

How can I make a compelling presentation about a serious topic (e.g., addressing poverty in Indigenous communities) that I feel quite passionate about – to persuade an audience that might otherwise be neutral on the topic to take an interest. I don’t want to rely on passion alone, there are many passionate people out there and worthy causes – how do I plant a spark that might win over a few potential supporters that might take further action or provide support to my issue or cause?

Excellent question Richard! You’re right being passionate about a topic is not enough. It helps because you show the audience how much you care and caring is contagious, but you have to take it beyond your enthusiasm.

There are so many causes that people can care about from poverty, climate change, marriage equality, animal rights, and the list goes on and on. How do you take that neutral audience and infuse them with your passion.

Make them care

The BIGGEST challenge to inspiring a neutral audience is that you need to make them care about your topic. Your passion is not enough. You’ve got to make them relate to your cause.

Poverty is a big abstract concept. It’s so big that most people don’t think they can do anything about it, so it’s easier to ignore.

Audience analysis is key. Before you start crafting your content, it is time to get clear on what your audience already believes about your topic and if there is any personal connection between your cause and them personally.

Find out information from the person or the event planner who booked you for the gig. Research the organization. What causes do they support? Is there an overlap between those causes and your cause?

Make the connection. If there is no connection, then…

Tell a story that inspires emotion

You must humanize your cause. What’s your experience with poverty? What’s your story of why you care so much?

You are right in front of your audience. You’re developing the relationship with the audience. Your story is going to be persuasive to them. If they know the why behind your passion, if they know your story, it’s going to inspire connection.

Vulnerability inspires emotion, connection and caring.

There’s a reason you feel this passion about your cause, you need to share it.

How can they help

If the cause is too big and they don’t think they can do anything to make it better. You need to give small, simple things they Simple, specific actions to help your causecan do for your call to action. In Al Gore’s documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, he ends his talk by telling you small-steps you can take to impact climate change. They are easy things to change, require little money and he shows that if enough people do it – they can make a difference.

Be specific about how they can help. Neutral audiences need something easy to-do to make a difference. When they start doing something small for your cause, research show that it changes their identity (this is called foot-in-the-door technique in persuasion theory) and they start thinking of themselves as someone who cares about poverty or animal rights. They start to care and start to act.

To move beyond personal passion and make a neutral audience care – you’ve must make your cause relatable and understand their beliefs, tell stories that connect with the audience and give them clear, simple next steps that inspire bigger future action.

photo by: ChodHound