• Yasmine El-Baz

Using the priming theory in public speaking.

Priming theory is about providing a stimulus that influences the audience near-term future thoughts and actions in their subconscious mind, even though they may not seem to be connected.

In effect, priming either introduces new things or brings old thoughts close to the surface of the subconscious, thus making them more accessible and relating them to a certain idea or action.



In public speaking we tend to use three types of priming:

Conceptual priming occurs where related ideas are used to prime the response.

Semantic priming occurs where the meaning created influences later thoughts.

Repetitive priming occurs where the repetition of something leads to it influencing later thoughts.


How to use priming in public speaking?

1) Using emotions in order to trigger a certain fear or desire:

At the beginning of your speech, you can trigger such emotions that will be served or solved later on through your solution.


2) Using a setup that creates expectations:

Organizing the presentation's setup in a way that either gives a casual friendly way or a high-level way in order to pave the mood for the type of content you’ll include.


3) Using visuals or videos:

For e.g., if you want to fight stereotypes indirectly about a certain group or idea, using visuals or videos that include a good example for that group while discussing a completely different topic, which is the main presentation topic, can drive their thoughts indirectly to accepting others.


4) Associating values indirectly:

As the case with the visuals, mentioning a certain person or company name combined to a certain value and repeating that in different ways during the presentation, will indirectly stabilize the value to that name.


In public speaking, persuasion is more than just the selection of words,

It’s also about the type of construction we make to the different included elements that trigger the desired action.

The way and the timing we select to use any element can affect greatly on the success of your direct spoken objectives and your indirect cause or message.


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