Back to Scene Change Web Site
Can You Hear Me Up the Back?
Tips on creating presentations with personality

Posts Tagged ‘vocal tone’

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).