#46 – Public speaking and sex: The art of persuasion.

When you are in your teens, it is good to have a friend with whom you can discuss your growing curiosity about sex. Most of the time, it helps demystify the subject. Occasionally, it leads to confusion.

I had such a friend. He often added to the confusion. There was the time, for example, when he convinced me to take a public speaking course that was offered as an after-hours class. It was because we had purloined some books from behind an older brother’s bookshelf that promised to explain the deepest mysteries of something called ‘coitus.’ We were convinced that it was a deeply serious work and we compared notes as we went through the books a chapter at a time.

“We gotta find out more about this public area that women have,” my friend explained. His solution was that it since it might have a relationship to public speaking, we could learn more by attending that class.

Since it was now my turn to read that chapter, it was not until the first public speaking class that I had a chance to suggest to him that he might be confusing the word ‘public’ with ‘pubic.’

But by then, it was too late. The class had started. Instead of being out playing work-up baseball with the gang, we were stuck with an elderly English teacher trying to tell us how to speak in public.

To our surprise and delight, we found the public speaking class dealt mainly with the art of persuasion. For two randy young guys, this was going to be more useful than the teacher realized. We figured it was going to help us get laid.

The first lesson was to learn about your audience. That made sense. We found out that the better you know your audience, the easier it is to get them to go along with your objectives. That is why you start by identifying with them. Knowing about them makes it easier to make them comfortable with you.

We were taught that once a comfort level has been established, you can address the subject of your speech. The teacher made the vital point that a direct approach was not always the best route to your objective. Here we were shown that by laying the groundwork properly, you can get people to think your objective is their idea. This was a revelation.

The teacher showed us how to build our case through the speech and to use emotion to help our audience to feel the need. She showed us how to layer our case to encompass different attitudes and personal needs. She also taught us not to bore our audience with needless verbiage. We learned to end on a high note, with an audience that is sure you have more to give. We learned the secret of the standing ovation.

But did this effort pay off with the girls? It is hard to say. My friend got himself a girlfriend right after taking the public speaking class and said it was not a gentlemanly thing to discuss sex with me anymore. Convinced he was not getting any, I went back to playing work-up baseball. The gang had decided to let girls play with us.

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