by Gege Sugue
“Romance the product.” My boss, back when I was in Product Management, would always remind us to romance the product whenever we were presenting our fashion lines. That meant to hold a pair of jeans or a shirt with reverence. To caress it in a sensual way. To show it off as if it’s a trophy wife or husband.
What my boss didn’t teach us was how to seduce the audience. I had to learn to do that myself. And I don’t mean touching myself provocatively. Though that helped too, when done right.
Why is it important to seduce the audience?
Because if you are to persuade your audience, you have to lure them into your world, your lair. You have to get them into the same side you’re on. Once they are trapped by the logical snare and emotional tug of your speech, then it would be so much easier to get them to drop their clothes or their armor of resistance.
First, get visual.
Even the bible talks about how lust starts with the eyes. You know how it is when you are dressing up for a hot date? You strategize how you’re going to look from head to foot. Take the same degree of care when you’re delivering your speech.
Dress for the part. Dress according to the effect you want to achieve on your audience. Wear appropriate colors—red if you want to project gregarious energy, black or grey if you want to assert authority, white or pastels when you want to exude freshness and innocence.
Then use body language to connect with your audience. Eye contact is your best bet here. Eye contact that makes your audience feel like you’re talking to them, that you’re concerned about them. Sustain eye contact with each person for a few seconds or until you’re delivered a key idea.
Your posture should communicate confidence, but make sure you lean towards your audience as you draw them in. Drop your defenses and show them your vulnerability by opening your arms. Use gestures that pull them towards you. Embrace them into your seductive web.
You also have to go vocal.
Modulate. Enunciate. Intonate. Let your voice convey your emotions. Whisper dramatically, whimper when necessary, amplify when appropriate.
Tongue calisthenics are good not just for making out but also for tongue twisters and other vocal exercises to help us warm up for our speeches. These exercises also help us pronounce our words clearer even when we’re feeling a bit nervous or excited.
Use pitch, volume, pace, dramatic pauses, emphasis to communicate your passion for your message, and you will see your audience respond.
And seduce verbally.
First, when possible and when appropriate, use the second person rather than the third. Instead of saying, “Everyone can make a difference.” Say, “You can make a difference.” You want every person in the audience to feel as if your message was intended for him or her.
Your speech title is another seduction tool, something like a pick-up line that hooks them to like you immediately and be intrigued by your message. Be creative. Make wordplay your foreplay. Use catchy, playful, maybe even shocking titles with double entendres .
Use sensual words that not only paint vivid pictures, but also enable them to touch, hear, and smell. Words like succulent, ablaze, languid, feathery--they plant not just images in your audience’s head but also tactile, emotional effects.
Read a passage from Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84. Feel how he seduces his readers as he talks about how a character in his book seduces through an unlikely topic.
“Tengo's lectures took on uncommon warmth, and the students found themselves swept up in his eloquence. He taught them how to practically and effectively solve mathematical problems while simultaneously presenting a spectacular display of the romance concealed in the questions it posed. Tengo saw admiration in the eyes of several of his female students, and he realized that he was seducing these seventeen- or eighteen-year-olds through mathematics. His eloquence was a kind of intellectual foreplay. Mathematical functions stroked their backs; theorems sent warm breath into their ears.”
My last tip in verbal seduction is to have a sense of humor, which is a sexy way to connect with your audience. The late comedian Dolphy was known not just for his humor but also his charm and way with the women. A Simon and Schuster blog post says about humor:
“A survey of 700 men and women discovered that people considered humor among the most important of all characteristics when choosing a partner, romantic or otherwise. And studies of happy marriages, especially those lasting more than half century, find spouses often ascribe their marital bliss in part to laughing together.”
Remember that as a public speaker, you are building relationships with your audience. You want them to remember you and your message after that encounter. Romance them. Make them enamored with your cause. Maybe your job is not necessarily to make them fall in love with you. But that certainly helps. But if you want to be persuasive, your goal is that at the end of your speech, you have planted a desire in them to act according to your objectives.
To seduce your audience, always use the power of the visual, the vocal, and the verbal.