The Persuasive Environment Will...
1. Highlight important pieces of the message.
Imagine the point in your presentation when you invite the audience to join you in your mission. This could be a very powerful moment, and a piece of your message you likely want them to remember. Could you:
2. Influence attendance.
Want butts in seats? Treat it like a marketing assignment:
3. Alleviate anxiety.
Don't let stomach bats ('cause they're not really butterflies, are they?) get the best of you. Leverage your environment to make it work for your nerves, not against them.
4. Remind audiences of a message.
Two points make a line. Three or more make a trend. How can the environment reinforce messages the audience should have heard by the time they arrive to listen?
When Campfire worked with MOOYAH on their annual franchise conference, we wanted audience members to be anchored in their impact on their customers. We decorated the rooms with actual guest satisfaction feedback from restaurants all over the country, and it reminded franchisees that what they're doing truly matters.
5. Distract from the unimportant.
What do we want the audience to take away? By answering that question, we also answer its inverse: What don't we want them to hear? Consider how your environment can be adjusted to reach the full potential of your message by cutting out the unnecessary.
6. Connect people – to you and to each other.
Room arrangement goes a long way in facilitating interaction, but it isn't the only way to connect to audience members. When you move throughout your space, eyeballs move with you. Find ways to get in the crosshairs so audience members make eye contact. They'll catch nods and looks of affirmation from one another and they'll feel reassured about you and your content.
7. Change the overall mood.
We don't always have the luxury of presenting to a room full of happy-go-luckies. Sometimes, things are tense, somber, or some other attitudinal elixir that puts your message at risk. Use the environment and bring the audience to where you need them to be.
8. Instruct the behavior you expect from your audience.
Why are early elementary classroom desks arranged in clusters? So the students can see each other and model their behavior after the most engaged. Why do churches have pews? To facilitate sitting and standing without chairs shuffling, and so all audience eyes point to the pulpit. Why do therapeutic groups convene with their chairs positioned in a U-shape? So the instructor can see the audience, but they can also see each other have breakthroughs and other emotional moments.
Seeing the pattern here? What behavior do you expect from your audience?
9. Reinforce other persuasive tactics.
Depending on your content, you might employ scarcity, social proof, authority or reciprocation to move your audience toward your ideas. How can your environment help?
10. Provide anticipation, making the audience want more.
Tear a page out from Ellen's playbook. She often rests large, wrapped gifts on stage for entire segments at a time, causing audience members to shuffle to the edges of their seats for the reveal. Keep in mind, gifts don't have to have monetary value. They can be just as valuable in the form of time, fun and other more abstract returns.
11. Invigorate fading attention.
Many presenters assume "audience eyebrow" is a natural part of the job. They accept that 46% of our audience chooses to tune out, turning to mobile devices, or simply spacing out, within the first minute. But Persuasion Designers use the environment to their advantage instead. Lights, temperature, music and many other atmospheric factors act like environmental caffeine to audiences.
Your idea, and what you need your audience to do with it, are simply too important to leave anything to chance. Taking advantage of time, location and atmosphere gives you control over some of the most important variables in your persuasion. Don't put your results at risk. Think of everything that isn't you. Design a persuasive environment.
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