What’s in It for Your Audience?

TRD097aIf you want to persuade a resistant audience to come around to your way of thinking, it helps to frame the issue from their point of view. Former Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca took that approach when he went to Washington to try to keep his company alive.

In the early 1980s, Chrysler was threatened with bankruptcy, and Iacocca needed a lot of money fast. In the senate committee room where he was scheduled to present his case, he was accompanied by a battery of lawyers and what looked like a prepared text about 3 inches thick.

The lawyers swarmed around Iacocca, but he brushed them aside and then shoved the fat text aside, too. He sat down behind the microphones, faced the senators, and spoke in clear, simple terms. He said:

"Ladies and Gentlemen the situation is very simple. I've got 100,000 people who could be out of work in Michigan next week. Now, you can write them a check. We call that welfare, and these workers can go on the public dole. The taxpayer - your constituents - can pay for it.

Or you can write me that check, and I'll put these people back to work. We'll build the best cars in America and we'll do it in just three years. Then I will personally pay back the money - with interest. And you can take that to the bank."

The senators practically threw the money at Iacocca. A meeting that was scheduled to take half a day was basically over in 20 minutes.

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