Thinking with and talking at

In an interview I was recently asked:

How many types of speech are there?
One answer of course is that there are as many types of speech as there are speakers and occasions to deliver them and audiences to hear them.
Possibly not the most helpful answer!
A simpler answer is Two!
Those speeches where the speaker hectors, lectures and probably talks down to you and
those speeches where the speaker tries to share, relate and reach out to you.

Charlie Jones used to say:
'Don't talk at people, learn to think with people'
because
'when you think with people they forget who's talking!'



It is every bit as true for training as it is for public speaking.
The surest way to influence your listeners is when they are free to invite you into their heads.
If you badger and hector people, they are more likely to shut the door!

Having been involved in many speaking events, I must confess to being very resistant when I feel I am being lectured to.
Whereas if a speaker meets me halfway, shares common ground and then invites me to see their point of view, I am much more likely to oblige.

Many people define a mesmerising presentation as one where they sense that the speaker is communicating directly with them.
And it is one of the great grammatical advantages of the English language that 'you' singular and 'you' plural take the same form.

So phrases like:
'Have you ever had the experience?', or
'if you find yourself
could be directed either to a group of people or to an individual.
So you may be addressing 'you' to an audience and at the same time, each individual listening can imagine that you are speaking directly to them.

That sense of intimacy usually springs from a sense of common experience: an empathy generated when the speaker is in tune with the listener.

None of us likes to be badgered and talked at and none of us likes to be driven into a corner and lectured;
instead, we all like to be appreciated and listened to and we all like to be allowed space to think and come to our own conclusion

So if you want to influence me -
Don't talk at me: learn to think with me.