The Art of Framing: Enhancing Your Public Speaking Skills
Have you ever sat through a speech and felt bored or confused? Public speaking can be challenging, but one simple technique can make a significant difference in the impression you leave on your audience: framing. Framing is the art of presenting information in a way that influences how people interpret it. And in today's fast-paced world, where people are bombarded with information, framing has become essential for successful public speaking. In this blog post, we'll explore what framing is, how it works, and how you can use it to your rhetorical advantage.
What is Framing?
Framing can be seen everywhere, from political speeches to advertisements. For example, in the 2016 US presidential elections, the candidates' framing of issues such as immigration and national security played a significant role in swaying public opinion. By emphasizing certain aspects of these issues and downplaying others, the candidates were able to influence how people viewed them. Similarly, in advertising, companies use framing to make their products more appealing. For instance, a food company might frame their product as "all-natural" to increase sales.
One of the most common framing devices is called the "highlight and downplay" technique. This involves highlighting the positive aspects of a topic while downplaying the negative ones. For example, a school principal might highlight the higher graduation rate of their school while downplaying the lower test scores. This technique can be very effective in persuading people to see a particular issue in a particular way.
Another framing device is called the "exemplar." This involves providing an example to illustrate a point. For instance, a speaker might use the story of a person who succeeded despite facing challenges to inspire their audience. By presenting a relatable and inspiring story, the speaker can leverage the power of emotions to make a lasting impression.
However, speakers should be cautious when using framing devices. When not used properly, framing can backfire, making the speaker appear dishonest or manipulative.
One of the most common mistakes speakers make is to overuse framing, which can make their message appear artificial. It's essential to strike a balance between using framing devices to your advantage while remaining authentic and truthful.
Time for some Modern-day Examples
One of the most famous examples of framing in recent times is the Black Lives Matter movement that gained widespread attention in the wake of George Floyd's killing. The phrase "Black Lives Matter" was a strategic choice by the movement's founders to shape the narrative around police brutality against Black people in America. By framing the issue as a matter of life and death, they were able to galvanize public opinion and spark a national conversation about systemic racism. The message was so powerful that it became a rallying cry for the movement and was adopted by protestors around the world.
Another example of framing that has gained prominence in recent years is climate change activism. The public debate around climate change has often been polarized, with some people denying its existence while others argue for urgent action. Activists have used framing to shift the conversation from a political issue to a moral imperative. By framing climate change as a threat to the future of the planet and to our children's well-being, they have been able to build public support for climate action. The framing has been so effective that it has become central to the messaging of many environmental groups and has become a topic of discussion among policymakers and business leaders.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also been a fertile ground for framing. Governments and public health officials have used framing to shape public perception and behavior around the pandemic. Messaging about "flattening the curve" and "staying at home" were framed to communicate the severity of the pandemic and the importance of taking action to protect ourselves and others. The framing has been so effective that it has become a key strategy in the fight against COVID-19 and is still being used today to encourage vaccination and reduce the spread of the virus.
Framing is a powerful tool that can help enhance your public speaking skills. Whether you're a business owner, a politician, or a teacher, framing can help you effectively communicate your message. By using techniques such as the highlight and downplay and the exemplar, you can influence how your audience perceives your message. However, it's important to remember that framing should be used with caution and care. By avoiding common mistakes and staying true to your message, you can make a lasting impression on your audience.
So the next time you prepare for a speech, remember to practice framing – you might be surprised at the difference it can make.