Decoding Analysis of the Videos

Tony Robbins on How to Break Your Negative Thinking

The video How to Break Your Negative Thinking by Tony Robbins inspires people to think more positively. It can be described as a motivational speech majorly because its main purpose is to encourage the audience to start thinking more positively. In terms of rhetoric, Robbins appeals mostly to pathos because of the emotional nature of the topic. As a motivational speaker, ethos is found in the credibility of the speaker to address the subject.

Robbins addresses the self-interests of the audience, which is facilitated by asking for help from some members of the audience (DoctorOz, 2018). At 0 minutes 38 seconds, he asked one audience member that if she had one concern what it would be, after which she answers anxiety. The case scenarios of these members are used as examples of the negative thinking typical for many people and as proof that the problem exists. Such an approach has been described by Matz et al. (2017) as psychological targeting, which is deemed an effective approach to digital mass persuasion. Robbins achieved this objective by targeting people with real-life problems and uses them to demonstrate how to resolve the issues.

Second, theories of information processing can also highlight some aspects of persuasive communication from the video. According to Xiao, Wang, and Chan-Olmsted (2018), heuristic information processing cues include source credibility, expertise, creditworthiness, attractiveness, likability, and familiarity of the source. In this case, Robbins appears to be a credible person liked by the audience as judged by their responses. The video is also engaging as defined by the speaker’s interactions with the audience. This way, the speaker gets the audience to think along the same lines and to acknowledge the feelings that he seeks to evoke. As a persuasive communication, it can be argued that Robbins succeeds to persuade the audience that negative thinking can ruin their lines and affect their health and wellbeing.

For example, at 2 minutes 58 seconds, Robbins offer a solution to the audience problems, which involved changing behavior to change outcomes. Most importantly, he convinces the audience that thinking positively has positive and immediate results some of which they experience by doing what is asked of them. Overall, the video can be described as a perfect example of a persuasive speech and I would not do it differently.

Steve Jobs Insult Response

In this video, Steve Jobs answers question from the audience, which can be perceived as insulting. It can also be argued that the audience who asked the question was not thrilled with Jobs’ presentation regarding the topic. For example, at 0 minutes and 14 seconds, the audience member tells Jobs that he does not know what he is talking about. However, Jobs managed to defend his position and argument, which gives his speech several characteristics of a persuasive speech. Jobs opens with a quote that one cannot please all people all the time (Field, 2016). This way, he acknowledges that the topic of the day could be appealing to those people who are receptive to the technology he is promoting.

Jobs mostly appeals to logos and ethos in terms of rhetoric because his reasoning is both logical and credible. However, pathos can be deduced from his tone as he accepts mistakes and promises to correct them. In the speech, he also accepts that mistakes have been made but the company and the technology are far better than before. The appropriateness of the speech can be examined in terms of the content offered, in this case, the answer to the question.

It can be argued that Jobs effectively answered the question by offering a clear view of the context and the relevant events. The context is a conference where people are allowed to ask questions, through which Jobs engages his audience. Such aspects of persuasive speech as motivation are apparent as Jobs alludes to the failures experienced and how the staff is not giving up. Information processing can be described as systematic as opposed to heuristic majorly because of the knowledgeability of the information and issue involvement (Xiao et al., 2018).

Message acceptance is also visible, from which the cognitive response theory proposed by Ainsworth and Ballantine (2017) can demonstrate that Jobs has made a positive impact. In other words, the audience positively responds to his speech, which can only suggest that they are willing to adopt the technology being promoted by Jobs. This can be evidenced by the claps and applause at 4 minutes and 35 seconds after Jobs claims that he and his people will find the mistakes and fix them.

Frank Abagnale on Credit Cards

Frank Abagnale presents a persuasive speech regarding the usefulness of credit cards and contrasts them with the potential dangers of debit cards. At 0 minutes and 12 seconds, he states with confidence that the debit card is the worst financial tool to be offered to the Americans. It can be argued that the speech is directed at the general American consumer and potentially any investor hoping to minimize liabilities. The opening statements appeal to the self-interests of the audience because financial matters are always sensitive (Duguid, 2019). He uses his experiences to illustrate his point and persuade the audience to perceive the subject the same way he does (Wesby & Culatta, 2016).

Besides these illustrations, there are few other aspects of persuasive speech that can easily be decoded from the speech. In terms of rhetoric, it can be argued that Abagnale appeals to logos because his explanations are logical. There are no emotions associated with the speech but ethos is manifested through Abagnale’s credibility to debate the subject.

However, it is important to acknowledge the appropriateness of the speech and information processing. The contents and style of the presentation are formal and simplistic because Abagnale seeks to directly address the topic. Both systematic and heuristic cues are present, including likability, creditworthiness, and knowledgeability (Xiao et al., 2018). As a lecture, the speech has adopted a more formal context, specifically financial matters. This can be observed in the terminologies used throughout the speech, including financial too and liability. Alternative viewpoints may not be clear, especially because he uses his experiences. Alternative viewpoints could offer insights into how debit cards could be useful, which is one of the aspects of the speech that I could add to make the speech even more effective.

The speech can be critiqued based on its inability to offer adequate comparisons of the two financial tools. It might indicate a bias towards the subject, especially because he ignores the possible dangers of a credit card and overlooks any benefits of a card. The fact that he uses his experiences to illustrate his point shows a further possibility of bias because it might appear he is not fully knowledgeable on debit cards.

A Powerful Secret to Unlocking Your Potential

This video involves an interview with Jordan Peterson who explains how to unlock a person’s potential. From the video settings, it can be observed that it is a radio show, which is hosted by Joe Rogan. The topic can be derived from the statements made by Peterson, especially when he makes multiple references to aspects of human psychology (Thought Feeder, 2019). The speech can be described as more motivational and informative than persuasive (Hawley, 2021).

As such, the video lacks some of the key aspects of a persuasive speech, including audience interaction. However, the presence of the host brings about a sense of human interaction. Information processing displayed by the speaker is more systematic because he focuses on learned technical information to convey his message. He mostly appeals to the rhetoric of pathos, especially when he uses such expressions as rescuing a father from the belly of the monster as 0 minutes and 12 seconds.

The appropriateness of the speech is found within the content and style. Even though the content is more comprehensible by psychology experts, the speaker has made adequate simplifications to make it appealing to the general public. Systematic information process is also visible as the experts draws from his knowledge of the subject (Xiao et al., 2018). As a radio show, the setting should be largely informal but one which seeks an expert to discuss a critical social subject. As a topic backed by scientific and empirical evidence, the speaker does not require an alternative viewpoint. However, the speaker only alludes to the presence of empirical evidence but fails to offer it to the audience.

The main weakness of the speech is that it does not offer adequate examples and fails to effectively engage the audience. According to (Genard, 2016), failure to engage the audience means it becomes difficult to get them onboard. As a radio show, the audience could be diverse, which means that more illustrations and demonstrations could make the speech more persuasive. Therefore, there are a few things I would do differently to make it more effective. For example, I would use several real-life examples as illustrations and offer more empirical evidence or sources of evidence to appeal to people with more expertise on the subject.

Critical Reflection

The decoding analysis of the videos was made possible because the videos used had a few characteristics aligned with persuasive communication. However, highlighting the persuasive tactics and components requires an understanding of what persuasion is. According to Romanova and Smirnova (2019), persuasion can be described as a type of social interaction intended to influence and change people’s attitudes in an environment of free choice.

Therefore, the speaker understands that the audience will make their own decisions and that their job is to sway the audiences’ decision-making process. The speaker does not openly impose ideas on the recipients, even in advertising where the sole focus is to make a sale. This is one of the main characteristics observed in all the videos. In other words, the speakers in the videos did not tell the audience what to do, but they sought to present a case for their topic. Even the video by Tony Robbins, which used the audience to demonstrate, adhered to this rule because the speaker only showed the audience how to think negatively.

In almost all the videos, the speakers have used such persuasion tactics as rhetorical questions and personal anecdotes. For example, Peterson claims that it took him 30 years to figure out the message that he wanted to convey in the show. This can be perceived as an anecdote, either a true story or one that he makes up to help show how serious the subject was. A second example is the video by Abagnale, which can be perceived as being full of persona anecdotes. He claims that he has never owned a debit card and has never allowed his children to possess one. He also poses a rhetoric question as he asked himself how to eliminate all the liability. Therefore, Abagnale uses both personal anecdotes and rhetorical questions as persuasive tactics in his speech.

However, some of the videos may have displayed features of ineffective persuasion. In Steve Jobs’ insult response, Jobs’ reaction to the question may not be the best, especially the long pause. This can be attributed to the nature of the question, which required a serious and well-thought answer. Authentic confidence and authority are critical indicators of a convincing performance and a good persuasive speech (Petukhova, Raju, & Bunt, 2017).

Jobs may have failed to immediately display his confidence and authority. However, he still managed to compose himself and comprehensively address the audience. The tactics in his speech were visible, including accepting the message and owning up to any blame that may have been placed on him. Overall, all the videos displayed several persuasive tactics observable by the audience.

It is important to acknowledge another key component of persuasive communication: emotive language. This tactic was only visible in a few of the videos analyzed, especially Tony Robbins’ speech. Emotive language can be described as the use of word choices that evoke emotional responses from the audience. Robbins constantly stimulated emotional reactions from the audience through his experiments and demonstrations. The facial expressions of the audience and verbal expressions were major indicators of their emotions. Steve Jobs may have appealed to emotions, especially when he outlined how hard the staff was working to offer customers the best products. His statement that customer satisfaction comes first in developing the technologies where a few audible claps are evidence of the audience being happy with his position. Overall, an understanding of the construct of persuasion has helped identify the persuasive tactics and components in all the videos.

Another aspect to consider is the presence of cues subtly used by speakers to support their arguments. Most of the cues observed were verbal and observed in the tone and pace of the speech in some of the videos. A good example is the Steve Jobs video where he speaks slowly and changes his tone. These cues may have been accidentally used because of the context and nature of the question asked.

It can be argued that Jobs was shocked to find that some members of the audience failed to acknowledge what he was promoting. Therefore, even the statement that one can please some people some of the time is intended to persuade the rest of the audience that not everyone is open to major changes but argues that they should not hold back the rest. Therefore, the long pause, slow speech, and calm and composed tone are some of the verbal cues observed in Jobs’ speech.

Another example of verbal cues is exhibited in the video by Jordan Peterson, who creates a mental image of the subject. He effectively describes the conceptual framework of the topic such that the audience can create a clear image of what the speaker is trying to say. Nonverbal cues are also visible but in only a few of the videos. In Tony Robbins’ video, he uses a whiteboard to make some drawings and presentations. Additionally, the use of audiences with real-life problems was intended to demonstrate his message and support his argument. However, the videos largely illustrate verbal cues and few instances of nonverbal cues.

Some of the verbal cues may have been accidentally used that biased me against their argument. An example is a speech by Abagnale whose focus is to illustrate the importance of using a credit card. It can be understood that the emphasis on the benefits of credit cards and the dangers of a debit card is intended to support his argument. However, the overemphasis on how debit cards can be dangerous has an accidental effect of creating a bias toward the subject.

In this case, it can be argued that debit cards are not always bad because they have their uses. Additionally, the claim that the debit card is the worst financial tool to ever be offered to the American people has an element of bias. From a rational perspective, credit cards can be equally dangerous for people. According to Irby and Khartit (2021), credit cards tempt people to overspend, which is made worse by the fact that credit cards attract an interest that might make repayments difficult. Therefore, Abagnale may have accidentally used persuasive cues to create a bias towards his argument.

The cues in most of the videos were effective in subtly influencing me in one way or another. This is because none of the videos was aggressive and radicle in attempting to force the audience to hold the same convictions as the speaker. In many cases, the cues appealed to the logos rhetoric, as evidenced in the logical explanations. Despite the bias in Abagnale’s speech, the logic is present in the argument he makes. For example, he does not spend his own money, which is invested in the money markets where it can make profits. On the contrary, he spends the banks’ money and repays it when the cards are reimbursed. Logically, investing money in places where the rate of return is high and spending loans that have lower interest rates makes sense for any investor or person keen on financial wellbeing.

In Steve Jobs’ speech, it is logical that some people will be interested in new technologies while others are not. Additionally, developing new technologies means conducting experiments, most of which fail before a breakthrough is made. Additionally, Robbins’ arguments are logical because filling out minds with negative thoughts will create a sense of worry and insecurity, which can only be solved by thinking more positively. The main argument is that the videos have offered logical explanations that anybody can agree with, which has the effect of subtly making an audience believe the speakers and be influenced in one way or another. I can prefer to use a credit card and invest my money as long as I maintain the necessary discipline. This is the positive influence of Abagnale’s arguments and his experience on the matter.

It is also important to acknowledge the ethos in the speakers and their ability to subtly influence the audience. Ethos can be described as moral characters or natural dispositions associated with the speaker. In most of the videos, the speakers are great personalities and experts in various fields. Jobs can be perceived as one of the greatest innovators and the person being the success of Apple, Inc. On the other hand, Frank Abagnale may be one of the people who best understand the country’s banking and system, which makes him the best person to learn from on matters of debit and credit cards.

In the rest of the videos, the speakers are experts in their relevant fields, which gives them the moral authority to offer advice on various subjects. In a persuasive speech, ethos is important because the credentials of the speakers give him or her the authority to talk about a subject. The audience will believe speakers with considerable authority and believe and be influenced by them. therefore, videos appealed to the ethos and subtly influenced me to believe them.


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