Best Persuasive Speech. Ever.

"Persuade" Definition

“Persuade” Definition

Persuasive communication is an art, but it can be learned.  It introduces a thought that may disagree with the beholder’s beliefs but does so with respect and honor wishing to help him benefit from accepting your idea, your product, your service.  It is a process that demonstrates your working hard to understand the value of their point of view and inviting them to reciprocate.  It was also one of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits:  “Seek First to Understand; Then To Be Understood.

I think that our leaders in Washington would do well to remember that and to study a little Shakespeare.

Marc Antony’s speech to the Roman mob at Caesar’s funeral, in Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, is the best example I can choose.  Anyone can benefit from the skill and subtlety of the writing and how it can be brought to life by perceptive interpretation.

Talk about the ultimate sales pitch:  Antony faces a Roman mob incited by Brutus and  the senate who justify the murder of Caesar by condemning him as a tyrant and would-be emperor.  The Romans are with them and approving in full voice when Antony steps before them, now in some danger himself.  He now stands before the Roman mob at Caesar’s funeral and denies that he is here to contradict the noble senators and just wants to bury his friend.

Then he very carefully, slowly, deliberately, skillfully weaves other meaning into his oratory and leads the Romans to exactly the opposite conclusion.

He skillfully moves from:

  • A type of penitence to
  • Agreement with the senate, followed by
  • Some seeming contradictions and then,
  • Some real questions.

Eventually, he senses that the mob has turned his way, he allows his tone to turn sarcastic and eventually invites the mob to to condemn the assassins as murderers of a beloved hero and the mob is with him.

Here are two examples of quite different interpretations of this speech, the first in a more classical presentation by the brilliant actor Marlon Brando.  The second is a more contemporary, bare-bones delivery by the Royal Shakespeare Company with a a cast that is, I think, African in origin and the phrasing is almost musical.

In both of these, I’ve included only the first few minutes but you will appreciate both the words and how they’re spoken.

Here also is the speech in written form, should you care to read it.

This speech also brings into focus some essential elements from which salespeople and public speakers would benefit.  In both cases, they are in the business of opinions of their audiences and sometimes wanting to change those opinions.



Gun Control: A Modest Proposal

Amidst the storm of controversy over gun control, I offer the following solution which, to me at least, seems simple and easy to understand as well as being logical (thought admittedly my logic has been questioned before). It’s based on two premises:

Human Target

Human Target

    1. Firearms created for personal use as protection or sport such as hunting should be untouched by any legislation and allowed as they are now.  This would include revolving pistols and most rifles.
    2. Firearms designed for the military and law enforcement should be confined to those bodies and made illegal for use by individuals.  This would, of course, include all automatic and assault weapons.

The logic for this idea stems from the fact that automatic weapons were created with one purpose:  To spray bullets, to fire many rounds at a time at human targets.  They were designed to make it possible for one person to kill several others or kill one person without having to aim carefully.  They were meant to be used by authorized military and law enforcement personnel and that’s where they should stay.

In situations where people like you and I wish to play with weapons like these, state government could sanction firing ranges to own and rent automatic weapons on-property.

I can hear the boos and disdain now.  I know that there will be many who will cry “slippery slope,” “nanny state,” and “constitutional rights.”  Regarding the latter, the founding fathers designed the constitution to be modified (amended) as time changed circumstances.  With standing armies and reserves, we have no more need of local militia to fight wars which is the stated initial premise of the second amendment.

Firearms are a part of the American culture since the earliest days of the pioneers.  Parents and grandparents have enjoyed teaching youngsters how to hunt and to handle weapons safely.  It’s an American tradition.  This tradition will not be infringed upon by the elimination of automatic weapons that, once again, are designed only to kill people quickly.

Gun control legislation isn’t the only answer to the violent tendencies of some people but it must be part of the answer.  We must also mandate increased funding for mental health, particularly for diagnosis and treatment of individuals with impaired abilities to deal with life.

And arming teachers?  Putting more weapons into classrooms and public gatherings?  Please.  We don’t want teachers to have to make decisions that could end the life of another person or to be haunted by its aftermath.  The trauma and psychological impact that emotionally wound our warriors and police officers should be enough to scare us away from that idea.

Let’s do this the real American way:  Thinking of potential solutions to problems and bringing them forward in an atmosphere of wanting the best answer for the most people.

Elevator Blues

This is sung to the tune of any good blues song you may remember:

Well I woke up this mornin’
And I didn’t know what to think.
The economy’s goin’ up and down,
Like an elevator on the blink.
The forecasts were both bright and gloomy
Like big scuffs on brand new shoes
Feels like there just ain’t no escapin’
From those Elevator Blues.

Up and Down

Up and Down

Now we’ve all had to learn new words
Like “fiscal cliff” and “default.”
And “debt ceiling” and “derivatives”
‘Til you just want to holler “Halt!”
Some businesses get propped with cash
While others have to lose
Man, I can’t stand how it hurts
To have these Elevator Blues

It seems folks don’t know who to trust
And who might let them down.
The government, big business,
And them brokers are all renown
At tellin’ all us one thing
But it ain’t their fault when we lose
Feels like there’s no escapin’
From those Elevator Blues.

I just wish that there was somethin’
I could count on for awhile
‘Cause “new normal” means “no normal”
And each step feels like a mile
But you just can’t give up hopin’
And you play to win, not lose
So you’ve got to keep on shakin’ off
Those Elevator Blues.

There’s a thrill ride at the Disney theme parks called the “Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.” The premise of this ride is a ride on an elevator in a haunted hotel that quickly goes out of control. After going up several stories, the elevator stops, then drops. Then it goes up a short distance and down a longer one. Of course, the ride up is slow and the drop down is quick and unexpected, and everyone on the car is in the dark. That’s been the story of how our government has handled America’s economic situation.

What have you done to make the situation any better?

  • Taken steps to make sure your financial stability is in order?
  • Worked with a financial advisor, someone who knows about managing money?
  • Written letters and/or emails to your congressional delegation asking the to work together, to stop shaking fingers and start shaking hands?
  • Do you vote in every election? Elected representatives rarely pay much attention to non-voters.

Admittedly, there’s not much we can do to make America’s situation better by ourselves but we must do what we can.

‘Cause you just can’t give up hopin’
And you play to win, not lose
So you’ve got to keep on shakin’ off
Those Elevator Blues.

A Modest Proposal: TV Political Ad Blocker

        At the risk of pigeonholing this blog as political ranting (it’s not), I’ve got one more before the election and then I’ll stop.  I promise.

After my wife and I were leaving the polling place on Wednesday, participating in North Dakota’s early voting opportunity, we received stickers saying “I voted.  That gave Laura what I thought was a great idea.  Ready?  Here it is.

Instead of a little sticker, they should give us a bar code or QR code that we can then upload to a web site that’s connected to our TV or signal provider.  Doing so would then block ALL political advertising on our TVs at home until the election was over!  What a concept!

After all, we’ve already voted.  We can’t vote again so the advertising is useless to us, even if we wanted to change our minds.  And it would result in far more peaceful viewing of our favorite programs and avoid the cacophony (or caca-phony) of politicians and PACs who are determined to torture us with their blather.

Yeah, I know, it’ll never happen.  But a guy can dream.

Now That’s REALLY Scary….

Last night was Halloween when children (and sometimes adults) dress up as other people or fictional characters, sort of like ComicCon with candy corn.  But this year, the make-believe spooks and goblins have been vastly and loudly overshadowed by other people whose intentions aren’t so benign:  Politicians.  And while Halloween only last hours, these other creatures haunt us far longer.

I started thinking about the similarities between Halloween and elections.  Talk about spooky:

  1. Another word for politicianBoth children and politicians are pretending to be someone they’re not.
  2. they both show up with their hands out and their bags open.
  3. They’re both just using you to get what they want except that all the kids want is a little candy.
  4. It’s against the rules to buy your own treats; you have to take them from someone else.
  5. They’re both capable of playing tricks on you.
  6. Gearing up for the occasion starts earlier every time.

Of course, the big difference between Halloween and this election is that the kids in costumes are cute and the next day they’ll go back to being kids.  The day after the election, the politicians will still be irritating.  And that goes on forever.

I think I’d rather have my house egged.

Lie To Me

“Lie to me.  Go ahead and lie to me.”
—Jonny Lang

Every two years, it’s the same thing:  Problems with the PLO.  No, I’m not talking about the Middle East.  I’m speaking of Political Lie Overload.  Hammer your opponent with half-truths, portray him/her as a lying loser who is awash in selfish aims of glory.  Portray yourself as a humble, hardworking, defender of the downtrodden who is above all, a fighter.

Tell me another one, Pinocchio.

Some of us are old enough to remember the days when party politics wasn’t a barrier to accomplishment.  Republicans like Everett Dirksen of Illinois and Barry Goldwater of Arizona and Democrats like Mike Mansfield of Montana and Tip O’Neill of Massachusetts would spout the old party rhetoric but then they’d actually get together (get together, he emphasized) and do things.

They created the interstate highway system.
They created the civil rights laws.
They created the manned space program that was the gateway to enormous breakthroughs in science, medicine, and industry as well as getting an astronaut to the moon and returning safely.

Can anyone think of one thing that the federal government has accomplished in the past 20 years that comes close to any of those things?

‘Cause I sure can’t.  And I’ve got a good memory.

Lie to Me – Jonny Lang