I read this comment, submitted by a teacher, on a public speaking article today:
"I understand the importance of not being boring, but I am not selling anything, and most of the tips in this article on public speaking seem aimed at holding an audience captive so you can sell them something."
Guess what: We're all selling something.
Do you work for a nonprofit, giving presentations about homelessness, domestic violence, the value of arts education or how to prevent childhood obesity?
Are you a teacher, persuading your students of the value to their lives of American history, English, chemistry, French or Life Skills (formerly known as sex ed)?
Do you sit in long meetings with your colleagues, discussing policy changes, event planning, equipment failure, financial spreadsheets or overtime?
Any time you're persuading someone to come around to your way of thinking, that's selling. Any time you're trying to get someone to take up your cause, that's selling. Any time you're attempting to change attitudes and behaviors, that's selling.
The action of selling may literally involve someone giving money for a product or service (although I would argue that that's "buying"), but in order to get to that point, you have to build a relationship with that customer. You have to build trust and respect with that customer. If these things don't happen, the customer isn't going to hand over the cash.
It's the same way with speaking. In order to get someone to do what you want, you could just yell at them, give orders and be demanding. But that doesn't work for most of us.
To get people to buy into your idea or your cause, you must be persuasive. You must:
1. Make a connection
2. Give facts that support your emotional argument
3. Know the audience so you can understand what appeals to and moves them
4. Give them the information that allows them to decide for themselves.
"Selling" is not a bad word. Sell an idea, sell a product, sell yourself. It's all about persuasion and relationship building, not bad things at all.
If you think you're not selling, you're wrong. And if you're not selling, you might be doing something wrong!