The Dr. Fox Effect

Feb 20

It wasn’t until recently that I read about the “Dr. Fox Effect,” but I immediately thought “that explains so much!”

The Dr. Fox Effect is a term for the phenomenon where even highly intelligent, educated people will consider someone to be a great speaker and their presentation to be a great and valuable presentation if they are lively, funny and personable—regardless of whether they actually taught anything useful or truthful.

As Toastmasters, we should be trained in analyzing and evaluating speeches… our own, that of other Toastmasters and that of other speakers. Books like “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” point out many examples of the factors we do not consciously register that affect our perceptions, opinions and decisions.

When evaluating a Toastmaster or judging them in a contest, it’s important to be aware of this fact–to look beyond the charm and examine the structure of the speech. Is value being given from the speech? Is something of worth being learned, is the lesson clear, does the speech make sense?

As an audience member, practice your critical thinking skills when listening to speakers.

As a speaker, there are two lessons to learn from this. One, even if people seem to love your speaking, you can always improve and should make sure you are giving as much value as you can in your presentations. Two… use the lesson of “Dr. Fox” (ethically). If you want people to truly be interested and involved in the great information you have to share in your presentations, be warm and personable and entertaining. Deliver great content with great connection and you’ll go far.

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