How good are you at persuasion? Use these four persuasive techniques for pitches, sales, negotiations, or whenever you need to persuade.
Do you know how to be persuasive?
We all like to think we have a positive effect when we talk to others. Even if our audience is resistant, we still have a tendency to think we'll resoundingly win the day.
The sobering reality, however, is that few speakers achieve that kind of influence. That's because most approaches to an issue are like all the other approaches to the topic. They show little creativity or boldness. So they fail where the crucial requirement of influencing listeners is concerned.
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How to Be More Persuasive When You Speak
If you'd like a handle on being more persuasive and creating true impact, here are four approaches to employ. They work for sales talks, investor pitches, negotiations, advocacy, and whenever you need to persuade. They will help you establish rapport and reach listeners in an actionable way, even in the face of resistance.
Simply focus on staying S.A.N.E. Those letters stand for the following four practices. Together, they are more concerned with strategy than performance, which matters greatly when it comes to changing people's minds.
Shape the issue:You give yourself a tremendous advantage as a speaker when you frame your message in ways that work to your advantage. In fact, it’s difficult to overcome skepticism and resistance unless you do so.
Areas of agreement:When it comes to a resistant audience your influence depends on whether you can establish common ground with them. And the earlier you do so, the better.
Once listeners understand that you and they are working toward a common goal, they’ll be much more likely to view you as a person of integrity. This is especially important if your views differ greatly from theirs. So if you're facing some basic, fundamental areas of disagreement, try to be the humane speaker who is only asking to be listened to fairly. What person who views themselves as fair-minded can resist that request?
Of course, if you're presenting to a group, a great way to wow everyone is by being a skilled performer. Here's an acting technique that will dramatically improve your public speaking.
New approaches:People who resist your point of view often think they’ve already heard all the arguments on your side. So surprise them. Give them something they haven’t heard before. It needn’t be a radical departure from past approaches (though it might be). Employ stories and metaphors to make your case. And use comparisons everyone can understand.
An example: A group of salespeople I trained recently was amazed to hear that silence is as important as anything they say. They related to the concept immediately when I told them that a prospect needs a second or two to grasp an important selling point. To illustrate, I mentioned the Zen technique of looking at the space between objects instead of at the objects themselves. It was an unexpected but I hope apt comparison.
Of course, this means that you need to do your homework to understand who your listeners are and how they think. Here's how to conduct an effective audience analysis. And once you're ready to persuade and move your listeners, you should grab their attention with one of these 12 foolproof ways to open a speech.
Emotions:You hold the beliefs you do because you think they are the right beliefs, the ones that correspond to your values. And that involves a strong emotional component. If you want to change other people’s convictions or behavior, you won’t do it only with statistics and pie charts. You need to talk about your issue in ways that touch people’s lives. You can do so by learning how to use emotional language to influence and persuade. And that goes for business presentations as well as more overtly emotional situations.
For instance, don’t be afraid to reveal how you yourself have wrestled with the issue you're discussing. By doing so, you’ll be giving them permission to do the same. And who knows? They just might come out on your side of the question.
Key takeaways from this blog:
- Most approaches toward difficult issues are like all the others in that industry. Be different!
- To persuade people, frame your message in a way that works to your advantage.
- Establish common ground with your listeners as soon as possible.
- Show people a new approach by using stories they haven't heard.
- To truly speak with influence and impact, use emotional language.
This blog was originally published in 2016. It is updated here.
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