When you need to speak to an audience that doesn’t completely agree with your position to start with, it can be difficult to win them to your side. People tend to stick with their current beliefs.
One of the most important tools for a public speaker is knowledge of possible audience objections to their message. If, for example, you are delivering a speech on animal abuse, you need to know that some audience members may not be animal lovers and don’t instinctively care about the topic.
Once you have this knowledge of the audience, you can use the phrase “You may be thinking…” in order to address their thoughts.
You are giving a speech about the problems Millennials face in the job market. The audience is only 25% Millennial, the rest are older. Because they’re from a different generation, they might not be able to understand some of the problems that face this latest generation.
You might say, “If you’re not a Millennial, you may be thinking, ‘when I was younger I had to work with my hands, and earn my money with hard work!’ And you’re right. Previous generations had to do more manual labor. But the problem facing Millennials today is that there just aren’t enough jobs to go around–even plain hard work isn’t available.”
Why use it?
Whenever you make a prediction about what the audience is thinking, and you’re right, the audience automatically feels a closer connection to you. If you’re wrong—there’s no risk, since you aren’t saying you know what they’re thinking, just what they might be thinking.
Go ahead and give this a try next time you want to make a potentially controversial but powerful argument.
This isn’t the only phrase that works based on this principle. You can try all kinds of different wording.
“When I first heard this fact, I figured it must be wrong because [reason]. But I found out that it’s actually true because [reason].”
That works as well because it tells the judge you went through the same thought process as them when first hearing that fact. It then leads them along to why you changed your mind, suggesting they should change their mind too. This would be particularly useful if you cited a statistic that seems incorrect, then went on to explain how it came to be.
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