National Post (Latest Edition)

1 KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE

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Familiarit­y with the men and women before whom you are speaking will allow you the insight necessary to target their weaknesses. A crowd of cheerful simpletons expected by the nature of the occasion to be in high spirits should be plied with obsequious platitudes and broad punchlines at the expense of something universall­y disliked. A group of people who seem intelligen­t or seem to believe themselves to be should be flattered with arcane references and obscure language they needn’t actually understand. Bachelors are disarmed by impropriet­y; graduating students are stirred by treacly hope. To condescend to someone has negative connotatio­ns, but it’s illuminati­ng to read the definition of the word: to behave as if one is on equal terms with an inferior. If you want your listeners to be comfortabl­e and to accept you as one of them you have to condescend to them hard.

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