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Posts Tagged ‘Adolf Hitler’

Robbins vs Hitler Part 2

Friday, March 27th, 2009

So we were looking at the many parallels between the communication styles of Anthony Robbins and Adolf Hitler.

Just to reiterate the last post, we’re not suggesting that the two have anything in common other than supreme skill in working a large number of people into an emotionally-charged state.  I think it’s instructive to compare people who use their talents for good versus evil ends. Here’s part 2:

6. Long, Long Speeches

Robbins doesn’t believe in short presentations. In the video above, he worries that he only has four hours rather than his usual 50+. Any less than that, he says, “while you might retain what you hear intellectually, you’ve got the notes, but you don’t follow through.” Fair point – most of us have a filing cabinet full of conference folders, unopened since the day we made the notes.

Likewise, Hitler liked a marathon speech. He learned his craft in the beer halls, talking to groups of 2000 of the party faithful. He would start calm and friendly, delivering rational facts. Around the two hour mark he would move into the full ranting and raving performance. This was timed to suit the changing mood of the audience as the effects of the beer kicked in.  For this, we must give Robbins extra credit for getting results in a beer-free environment.

7. Sets That Magnify Perception

Hitler was obsessed with stage management. He demanded stage sets to reflect his grandiose aspirations, with epic banners, eagles and so on. Once he attained power, he built his own venues, vast arenas designed by Albert Speer to evoke the might and power of the ‘Thousand Year Reich’. They were even designed to look good as they became ruins far in the future.

Robbins doesn’t build his own venues, but his sets are impressively designed to convey that this is a major occasion. His entry to the stage is carefully managed, rock star style, to build up the suspense in the audience. He understands that delivering a speech in front of a standard black drape wall just isn’t the same.

8. Slightly Higher Pitched Vocal Tone

Moving the tone of your voice up a little from its normal relaxed state conveys a sense of urgency and internal passion. Both speakers use it to convey the depths of their feeling, and create a sense that you, the audience, need to take urgent action.

9. Keen Study of Audience Psychology

Robbins speeches are full of psychological references. Not being a psychologist, I can’t judge how accurate they are, but when I hear lots of lines beginning with “Extensive research has shown…”, it makes my marketing antennae tingle.

Hitler, too, was a keen student of things psychological. He was particularly interested in mesmerism, and employed a voice trainer who had studied hypnosis. He felt that once you got the audience into a certain ‘state’ – a favorite Robbins word – they would be more willing to act on his rhetoric.

10. Raw Emotion

Both speakers understand that rational facts sound good, and make the audience nod their heads in agreement, but facts won’t make people change their behavior. If they did, nobody would smoke.  A transformational speech is less about the words as how it makes them feel.

You need emotion when you’re asking people to do things like selling cell phones in a mall that has twelve other cell phone shops.  If you sat down and considered it logically for a few moments, you’d pack up and go home. Emotion creates action, and all the elements we’ve listed above create a powerful set of emotional triggers.

As bad as it gets: Hitler appeals to the kids in a purpose built arena (from Triumph of the Will).

Ten Things Anthony Robbins and Hitler Have In Common – Part 1

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Would you like to learn the secret presentation techniques of Anthony Robbins, the most renowned and highly-paid speaker in the world?

You bet you do.

To fully understand these techniques, you have to go back a little further, to the guy who wrote the rules on stadium-scale crowd motivation. A man who got ‘em to not only listen to his message, but also act on it, always a much tougher task.

That guy was renowned, errr… National Socialist dictator A. Hitler.

Hitler pioneered pretty much every modern-day live motivation technique except PowerPoint. He was, regrettably, an absolute master at it. And not through natural giftedness, but through decades of hard work and practice.

An Anthony Robbins speech is a master class of Hitler techniques from start to finish.

OK, OK, calm down. I’m not saying Anthony Robbins is an evil genocidal maniac. He seems like a perfectly reasonable guy.

And while Hitler was about as bad a specimen as the human race has produced so far, it’s worth studying just how he managed to persuade huge numbers of ordinary people to follow him down that path. What possible combination of words could make the average Johann Citizen turn on their own neighbors with such apparent enthusiasm?

The Hitler and Robbins approach takes presentation perfectionism to a level that few bother to do, managing every tiny detail of the speech to be as effective as humanly possible - script, sound, appearance, setting, pacing, and a lot more.

Setting aside the choice of using your speaking powers for good or evil, there’s a lot to be learned from both.

Here’s Part 1 of the Robbins/Hitler Top 10 Presentation Secrets.

1. Get Them Up On Their Feet

As Robbins says, passive audiences don’t retain information. They won’t go into battle, literally or in a real estate sales role, if they’re sitting back in their chairs. Both speakers get the audience on their feet and yelling.  A few hours of massed footstomping takes the audience to a different emotional place, particularly when combined with:

2. Powerful Music

Hitler blasted his audiences with hours of loud music, much of it original material written in a stirring martial style by sympathetic composers.  Atmosphere and continuity was all carefully planned: sombre minor keys were avoided, and major key music was arranged so successive pieces were no more than a couple of keys apart. Success is all in the details, people.

Robbins music is equally loud and relentless, though more your C’N’C Music Factory’s We’ve Got the Power school of 90’s corporate anthems.

3. Extravagant (But Well-Planned) Hand Gestures

Watch the enormous Robbins hands in action. There’s the two clenched fists of exhilaration in front of the chest, a move taken to new heights by Tom Cruise on Oprah. There’s the open outstretched hands of friendship. There’s the chopping of the rigid hand into the other palm to beat out the rhythm of a sentence. All building up the drama.

Hitler, too, spent hours practicing his stage moves in front of the mirror. People see movie clips of him with flailing arms and think: what a rabid nutcase. But he’d spend the first couple of hours (yes, hours!) in a calmer, Herr Reasonable mode, gradually working up to the dramatic crescendo.  To his audience, the lectern-bashing made perfect sense by the time he got there. Compare  both sets of hands in the two video clips below.

4. Audience Fist Pumping

The repetition of getting people to punch the air keeps them energized and creates a sense of shared purpose, whether it’s the classic Sieg Heil salute or the constant ‘Say Aye’ exhortations of Robbins.

5. Advanced Technology

Hitler was one of the first politicians to use the new technology of the time – public address systems and floodlights. In the 30’s, the spectacle of one man enthralling a stadium full of people must have created something of a God-like impression.

An audio technician I know set up a bunch of Anthony Robbins shows. He told me that part of the audio specification was an enormous arsenal of military-strength sub-bass speakers underneath the stage. When Robbins clapped his fist to his chest, just close enough to his radio mic*, it sounded like someone swinging a wrecking ball onto the Statue of Liberty. Subconsciously, the audience thought: Whoah - he’s an enormous man of steel!

Here’s some viewing for you. For presentation analysis only, OK? Not to suggest that Hitler and Robbins have anything else in common.

Part 2 later in the week, unless angry mobs storm my office and burn my laptop.

*Yes, technical buffs, this was before he started using headset mics.