So why do we even bother communicating information to others? The answer is simple: we often need others to see things the way that we do. Study after study has shown that most people (myself included) believe that we’re so smart that we can not be sold. The great communicators know that the truth turns out to be that we can be persuaded to do something if, and only if, we don’t recognize that a “sales” technique is being used on us. Why should this matter to you? Simple – when you are presenting information and you take the time to incorporate a few persuasion techniques then you are taking advantage of what modern psychological research has revealed about how we can make the message that we’re delivering both more credible and believable. Let’s talk about how you can accomplish this…
Use a rifle, not a shotgun: If you want your audience to accept your ideas and make them their own, you need to aim at a narrow target. This means that you need to stop doing what we all instinctively do: back the truck up and dump everything that we know about a topic all over our audience. It turns out that this will just end up overwhelming them and not do much to bring them over to our side. Instead, what you should do is some field work before you present your information and find out what’s important to your audience. This will allow you to focus your persuasion on those and only those points.
Make It Story Time: Stories are a fantastic way for us to learn and they can be very effective way to persuade someone. However, if it sounds like you are giving a sales pitch, then you can be assured that telling a story won’t work. Instead, if you focus on a story that has real meaning, then your audience’s unconscious mind will automatically draw the necessary connections without any help from you and the result will be that they end up doing the persuasion for you. The key to telling an effective story is to once again pinpoint what matters to your audience and then tell a story about a similar idea or concept. This indirect approach is the secret to winning your audience over to your side and keeps them from feeling like you are selling to them.
How have you won an audience over in the past? Have you ever tried something that did not work out the way that you had intended? Has someone tried to persuade you to do something with a story but blown it by turning it into an obvious sell job? Leave a comment and let me know what you think.