Within the brain, ‘positive to us’ is related to ‘negative to them’. A speaker can use ego transcendence to go beyond.
Us-Them is the basis of morality.
[see: ‘In-Group Creates Out-Group?’]
More concretely, the same hormones (oxytocin…) and related brain structures that aid in making an ‘us’ (think of a mother and her suckling baby) also aid in making a ‘them’ (think of protecting one’s children against ‘the enemy’). Thus, the brain is keen on us-them differentiation. No wonder in view of natural group evolution. Nature is in many cases not about ‘the best it can be’ but about ‘good enough’. This ‘good enough’ is in relation to something / someone else.
At the same time, the human brain is very flexible in how-to, thanks to our huge capacity of neuronal ‘subconceptual’ processing. Herein also lies our capacity for ego-transcendence.
To divide is easy, to unite… also
Uniting people, you show how the final common cause may be reached from different angles. The more you put end-values up front, the better this goes.
It’s a search for common ground. On this basis, you can make your audience feel like you are one of them. Then show that you believe in making them together with you a bigger ‘us’.
- Dress = important. You can ask beforehand what’s appropriate. It’s also for you to remember who you are. It’s for them to see you as one of them, perhaps with some higher status but still one of them.
- 95% of time, have eye contact.
- Before your talk: say hello to as many people as you can. Strive for emotional connection, also so you may be able to refer to this.
- Powerful pause: great speakers do that a lot. When uncomfortable… slow down, pause, look at them. Always pay attention: one group is not the other.
- Try to include the decision maker in your expanding ‘I’, through the audience, building the communication between audience and decision maker.
- Get to know the audience’s key concerns, especially those they have never shared, that don’t show up in the pre-questionnaire. What would make a massive difference? (write a narrative/profile about this) Why should people listen to you and change their life?
- At question time, make sure you answer questions in a way that is interesting to all -> make everyone inclusive.
This way, the audience gets ‘into the zone’ with you. You become embedded in their conversation; they refer you (and you can charge more).
Look at the audience as ‘us’.
Having ‘them’ inside ‘I’ also shows in your preparation. For an ‘us’, you will spontaneously prepare better. You will feel what your audience is looking forward to. You will talk to the right person in order to know this, make the right internet inquiries etc.
It’s also good for you personally.
Don’t look at the audience as a blob. That definitely creates a ‘them’ from both side. Instead, look at single persons, in a ‘series of conversations’.
You may push against cultural norms with respect for deeper values. Show people they can ‘broaden the us’ also culturally and without losing one’s own cultural deeper-values. As an international speaker, you open your audience this way to ‘see you as international thought leader they can trust.’
Oxytocin at world level 😊.
Heightening ‘us’ through emphasizing us-them
is instantly gratifying. According to me, it’s never the ideal way. It brings more inappropriate us-them-ing in the world.
Moreover, at a deep level, it diminishes your possibilities to transcend dividedness (again: through ego-transcendence) in many inspired and inspiring ways. Transcending, you can also use this momentum towards ‘you-and-your-audience’.
As a speaker, one should always strive to be a unifier – within the bounds of common sense – not a divider.
If the audience is already in an us-them-ing situation
(workers versus management…), it’s tricky to transcend. To them, you’re either ‘with us or against us’. So it’s better to start ‘with us’ while from that same start onwards at least not heightening the ‘us-them’.
Best is to take a position that they can value and that later on doesn’t make you look like changing your mind. Take care not be seen afterwards as ‘traitor’, which is brain-wise even more tricky then plainly being ‘one of them.’
This may be difficult. It’s also the best occasion to really influence your audience.
Final goal of public speaking
According to me: bringing people together in a way that doesn’t downgrade their deeper values + heightening their motivation to act this way.
Eventually of course, deeply uniting is a very powerful motivator.
Probably the best.