Create Dramatic Tension to Persuade Your Audience

  • Share
  • Read Later

All good presentations — like all good stories — convey and resolve some kind of conflict. The sense of discord is what makes audiences care. Create conflict by juxtaposing what is with what could be.

Begin by describing life as the audience knows it. People should be nodding their heads in recognition. This creates a bond and opens them up to hear your ideas for change. After you set that baseline, introduce your ideas of what could be. The gap between the two will throw the audience a bit off balance, and that’s a good thing — it creates tension that needs to be resolved. Continue to alternately build tension and provide release by toggling back and forth between the status quo and a better way — finally arriving at the “new bliss” people will discover by adopting your proposal.

Adapted from the HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations.

Visit Harvard Business Review’s Management Tip homepage

Purchase the HBR Management Tips book