Business Comm: How To Speak Persuasively

I am a professor of rhetoric, I analyze discourse in a number of ways, including persuasiveness, for a living. And the basic rule in straightup argumentative persuasion is audience analysis.

It doesn't matter if one audience, whose decision is basically irrelevant at this point, found Cheney dominating. Speaking to the right audience is the single most important factor in persuading an electorate.

And on that score, Edwards was vastly smarter. I said it before, Cheney addressed wonks, Edwards normal viewers.

When I show students clips from presidential debates, they have little [of the background needed] to make sense of a flurry of details, the way Cheney argued.

They need to be told why something is important and have it boiled down. They are not unintelligent, they just need the speaker to help them listen to complicated material.

Cheney did not try to help the listener, he was speaking to his base and to pundits. I believe it was not a clear win either way on the merits, but in terms of address, Edwards made the right choice.
via, Wed Oct 6, 2004

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