In the business world, every decision carries a high degree of risk. Whether it’s to do with strategy, finance, human resources, structural or operational, there’s so much more at stake compared to your average weeknight meal choice.
So, it’s unsurprising new ideas are nearly always met with healthy scrutiny and maybe even some sobering scepticism. Indeed, 100% agreement and support from colleagues and stakeholders are rarely ever achieved without earning it first – it’s exactly how we get from A to B democratically and with minimal risk to business. Perfecting the art of persuasiveness in life is crucial because it’s through persuasiveness that we successfully communicate what we can offer and how we score those invaluable resources to make amazing new things happen. Translated into real-life examples, we could be talking about pitching for new business, being interviewed for a new role, selling products or trying to secure additional budget and manpower to drive exciting new projects.
But there’s a fine line to balance when it comes to putting your most persuasive side into action. A staple life skill, it may be, but efforts can easily go awry when you go full throttle without knowing how to make yourself sound authoritative and trustworthy. We’re all familiar with the car salesperson jibe, right? Meanwhile, others will prefer to side-step the persuasive approach altogether – and that’s no good at all. Here are some tips that could help you strike the right note with effective and persuasive communication when you really need it most.
Let others do (some) of the talking for you
Most websites which act as a gateway to products and services will be supported by reviews, testimonials, and case studies. So, take a leaf out the playbook for digital marketing and take “you” out of your persuasive communications. Most people will be more influenced by how you say others have reacted to your ideas than your own display of self-confidence. Why? Because they see those “others” as their fellow decision makers – and if it’s good for them, perhaps it’s good for everyone! Similarly, it could pay off to use social justification to demonstrate how your ideas translate in practice. For example, you might say, “most people are receptive to overseas travel in the winter because they’re thinking of warmer climates”.
Think about your packaging
Simply, persuasiveness comes hand-in-hand with credibility and trustworthiness. This is because you’re calling upon an audience to believe you really know what you’re talking about and that there’s absolutely no self-interest at play. And for this, you need to look the part and sound the part. Just like product packaging, how you present yourself and your ideas can have a huge bearing upon the impression you make with your target audience. There are various ways to create a good impression such as a sleek, professional and visually inspiring presentation deck or report, along with an informative and engaging speech.
Tune in to objection and affirmation
There’s no point in marching to the beat of your own drum when you are trying to convince everyone else around you. While your audience already knows you’re sold on your ideas, this is about how competently and persuasively you can address the opinions and arguments of others – especially if they’re opposing. Highly persuasive people pre-empt the objectors and come armed to address concerns before they’re even put forward. At the same time, their eyes and ears are always open to other people’s points of view, so they can seize every opportunity to inject an articulate and compelling response. But it’s not all about how you deal with detractors. Successful persuaders know when to capitalise on the views of promoters too. By listening to others, successful persuaders can draw attention to positive viewpoints, clarify them and reiterate for the wider audience.
Don’t be pushy
Some people might think forcefulness when making an argument is just a sign of healthy confidence, but they’d be wrong. Pushy people who resort to coercive tactics, aggression and maybe even a touch of intimidation to drive a point home will nearly always cause people to reach for their guard. And guarded people are generally not supportive allies (understandably so!) People who are confidently persuasive remain calm, composed and personable, while resorting to facts, stats and credible information to make a weighty point. And the logic here is simple; people are much more open-minded when they feel in control of the decision, and for that, they need all the crucial information to make a quick and easy evaluation – and it must be well presented, of course.
Show people, don’t tell them
Research has shown visual aids are 43% more effective in persuading an audience, so the lesson here is this: Don’t be afraid to stray away from your core arguments (otherwise known as the hard sell) from time to time. As part of your highly persuasive agenda, draw upon the power of visual imagery to bolster your arguments. Visual imagery could be derived from the audience’s own imagination by simply telling relevant and engaging stories – through to showing photos or helping the audience understand supporting concepts and statistics with appealing infographics, explainer videos and diagrams.
Don’t jump the gun
All your persuasive efforts will count for nothing unless you make it explicitly clear what you expect your newly persuaded audience to do next (and how easy it is to do it!) This is known as a call-to-action (CTA). But beware – good timing is absolutely critical when introducing a CTA to your persuasive spiel because if you get it wrong, things could easily come tumbling down. Yes, you could be well on the way to hooking your audience in with persuasive charm but forcing them to take action or make a decision too soon could result in a serious case of cold feet and automatic back-peddling. It’s just human nature! Play it cool and allow adequate time for people to digest and dwell upon your arguments before prompting action. While this could mean it’s entirely appropriate to introduce your CTA at the end of an argument, in some cases, it could pay off to back off and follow up at a later date. __
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