Charismatic Communication: Getting An Audience Quickly to Yes!

Desmond Guilfoyle

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A Yes Set describes a technique by which a series of universally ‘true’ questions or statements are delivered to elicit an agreement pattern. For example:

“Politicians are less trustworthy. "

“Increasingly they’re not in touch with average Australians. "

“More and more people seem to be showing discontent with politics. "

“Money is wasted on grand schemes. "

“But crime continues unabated. "


“Vote Democrat and we will work together to bring you and your concerns back on the agenda"

In the example above a series of five universally true statements were made that would invoke either internal expressions of agreement or in some cases a very loud “Yes!" The Yes Set is followed by a request, suggestion, or proposition.

The minimum number of “yes’s" you should aim for is four. On occasion you may wish to increase the number to enhance the rhythm of your statement.

The theory behind Yes Sets is that by eliciting internal or verbal agreement, you build a sympathetic and receptive state of mind in your target audience. It’s postulated that listener’s, after having gone into an agreement frame of mind, will experience dissonance if they break the yes pattern.

It’s also believed that in some contexts lazy thinking plays a significant role in Yes Sets. Try the example below, once again containing universally true statements, and notice how difficult it is to resist the pattern when you are locked into an agreement state of mind:

“You’ve worked hard and paid your taxes. "
“You’ve made a contribution to the economy of this country. "
“You deserve a reasonable standard of living when you retire. "
“You want to have enough money to enjoy your life. "
“You want a safety and security. "

“That’s why Colonial First Trust can be your first choice. "

There’s also a variation of the Yes Set called the Yes Plus set. This set anticipates more mindful listeners noticing at some level that they’re locked into an agreement frame and perhaps internally rebelling against it. The technique introduces what rhetoricians describe as agreement by negation: a No/Yes response, as the example below demonstrates:

“We haven’t introduced ourselves yet. "

“There are people here who don’t know each other. "

“And we wouldn’t want to work with strangers, would we?" (No/Yes response) “You can see the value of getting acquainted. "

“Makes things better if we’re on first name terms, doesn’t it?"

“Therefore let’s do the introductions. "

Yes Sets are particularly useful as ice-breakers. They’re also come in very handy if you have occasion to address hostile audiences. By gaining the silent agreement of a hostile audience with a well-crafted Yes Set, it installs in the minds of your listeners the notion that, while they may not agree with you, they agree with you. This is considered an important element in the process of attitude modification.

Desmond Guilfoyle in an award winning commentator on influence, persuasion and charisma. He has written three books on those subjects and his book ‘The Charisma Effect’ has been published in seven languages around the globe. He can be contacted at For further articles, tips and information visit his blog at .


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