Glenn Beck is an inspirational speaker – but not in a good way. He is a great example of the old adage “it’s not what you say, it’s the way that you say it”. The following he does have is fiercely loyal to both him and is ideological ideas. And I think that part of the reason for this is his ability to connect with his listeners in a way that bypasses reason and goes straight for the part of the brain called the Amygdala – it’s pure biology. The Amygdala is the part of the brain that performs the formation and storage of memories associated with emotional events. Especially fear!
On one level he would be a star pupil! I am always encouraging my clients to connect with the emotional part of their speech in order to underpin the information because this gives the listener a better chance of retaining the main points. Emotions are after all linked to memory and vice versa. However Beck takes this to another level. Nothing makes a person sit up and listen more than if they feel under threat. “Something is coming, and part of it is already here, and you can’t stop it, unless you listen to me”.
If you break down what Beck is saying, it doesn’t add up (well not to me anyway), but that is not the point. Several studies have pointed to the fact that nowadays people in the US tend to chose news that reinforces their own beliefs so most of Becks listeners will have accepted his point of view as being real already.
You’d struggle to find anyone with as much conviction and self-belief, as much devotion to his own beliefs as Beck. His confidence is never rocked by his many detractors – I don’t know if he really does think America is sliding towards communism or he’s just using this idea to harvest publicity for his burgeoning internet business (he made 80 million dollars last year), but he certainly believes in himself and self belief is a key component of convincing an audience to listen. And whether he believes in what he’s saying or not, he’s circled off a niche of his own, who willingly and hungrily eat down his words, books, blogs, and all Beck media, having been cultivated into a state of fear and anxiety where Beck has all the answers. The image he wishes to project is that of a teacher and this imagery is very clever; he portrays himself not as a journalist (who are mistrusted on the right as part of the liberal conspiracy) but as a teacher with his blackboard and diagrams, as a messenger from the future. If he could be thought of as anything, I think Beck would like to be seen as an Oracle.
Glenn Beck is a fantastic communicator with well honed delivery, a complete understanding of his target market and a smart business brain. Shame he doesn’t work in the charity sector!