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Shut Your Trap

Oct 10, 2007
This is crazy. . . It's an older story, but very interesting in terms of when to talk and when not to talk.


This is a YouTube clip of a Miss Teen America contestant from South Carolina. She's answering the question, "Recent polls have shown that a fifth of Americans can't locate the U.S. on a world map. Why do you think this is?"

When you see it written out word for word like this, it's even more frightening:

"I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uh, some people out there in our nation don't have maps. And I believe that our education, like, such as in South Africa and the Iraq, everywhere, like such as, and I believe that they should, our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S. or should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future for our children."

I'm thinking she might have gotten left behind.

Keep this clip in mind in relation to persuasion under the heading of 'when talking too much loses the sale'.

Of course, for the most part, we aren't persuading thousands or even hundreds of people, and to be fair, we have no idea how hard it would be to endure that sort of pressure. However, out of the fifty girls, only one clip is circulating the internet. The other forty nine didn't blather on insanely.

As persuaders, our goal is not simply to fill the air with words. We strive to aim our message directly at what our clients and prospects need.

Of course, regardless of how pleasing this contestant's physical form was, whether or not she was attractive enough to win is not the point. She came in third and that truly indicates this was not an intelligence contest. She's not hard on the eyes, just hard on the ears.

Ms. Upton's "answer" to the question can be a lesson for us:

Less is often better. If you have no idea what you're talking about, best keep your mouth shut.
About the Author
Kenrick Cleveland teaches techniques to earn the business of affluent clients using persuasion. He runs public and private seminars and offers home study courses and coaching programs in persuasion techniques.
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