What’s the Best Way to Win Over an Audience?



According to Robert McKee, there are 3 ways to persuade and win over an audience. There isn’t a right way or a wrong way to do it, but there is definitely a better way. Because the ultimate goal of every presentation is to persuade and win over the audience, we want to share with you the 3 ways to do this:



Rhetoric is the art or technique of public speaking, using language and communication effectively, with the aim of persuading the listener. This traditional technique uses data, facts, evidence and testimony to impel people to a specific conclusion. Generally, the presenter organizes his/her speech as follows: this + this + this means that, so do “this”!


The major problem with this technique is that audiences come with their own information and their own knowledge of a reality that may go against the arguments of the presenter. So what happens is: the audience begins to question and to make comparisons. And the presenter gets into a logic argument with the audience that the presenter doesn’t always win. The presenter tries to persuade the audience using only logic, and the audience tries to mentally counter or refute the arguments of the presenter.


Another problem with the rhetoric method of presentation has to do with the fact that the audience knows that the presenter’s focus is only on the positive and that the negatives are being left out or glossed over. But we all know that life is not only good things – everything in life has strengths and weaknesses. So, all the facts the presenter delivers can in fact hide a truth that is often being questioned by the audience although this is not being verbalized. The internal dialogue of the audience is unknown to the presenter. In short, the audience knows that the presenter is not being completely straightforward and, therefore, not 100% honest!


If the audience doesn’t believe the presenter, the credibility necessary to sell can never be achieved.



Coercion is the act of inducing someone to do something by using force, intimidation or threat. This is an ancient practice, used by people who use their power to manipulate. The indirect message conveyed by those who use this technique is: “You do this, or you’ll suffer the consequences.”


This technique uses the old behavioral method of punishing people who don’t do what is being asked of them and rewarding those who do. Seduction is also present with this technique, when somebody uses seductive power to engage the audience and get what is wanted of the audience.


With the use of coercion, the presenter uses emotion, but in a negative way. What predominates here is fear.


Although effective, this technique only works for a short while, because people quickly realize they’re being duped and the presenter loses credibility.


And then there is . . .



In using a story, the presenter presents data and information (as in rhetoric) but also emotion (in a good way), “wrapping” all the elements in an engaging manner, causing the audience to empathize with his/her ideas. The presenter begins with something provocative, to pique the audience’s interest, then leads with story into realistic but challenging terrain, finally reaching the climax, which involves the audience emotionally. This kind of presentation closes with a strong ending that reiterates the main message of the story and leaves the audience with a strong memory.


It’s been proven that audiences remember stories for a long time. The audience retains what’s relevant and does what the presenter intends – not because the presenter asks for it but because the audience realizes the value of what is being presented and relates emotionally to the story and the presenter.


For a story to be effective it must be both well structured and well told; it must reveal reality as it is, without masks; and it must be built around the facts that will support the story’s purpose.


It’s very simple. The audience will never react exactly the way the presenter expects. And so a presentation whose content is based on the mission, values and solutions of a company and ends with “Buy it now!” won’t work!


If, instead, the presenter shows by means of a story that there’s a plan that might not work, but that he/she is prepared to overcome the challenges that can arise, the confidence of the audience is automatically high. Remember, the audience needs the presenter to present reality as it is.


Of the three presentation techniques reviewed here, SOAP believes that the best way to win an audience is by using a good story, since this is the technique that works best and that brings more results in the long term. So the next time you start working on a presentation, first think about the story  you’ll be telling your audience before you think about anything else.