inCredible Messages Blog

Latest "How to Persuade & Gain Commitment" Posts

Tips to Design a Powerful Presentation

Looking to design a powerful presentation that will capture attention and sell your ideas?  Follow these steps:

  • Anticipate any resistance you might encounter.  Use informal and formal channels to learn as much as you can about individual audience members’ perspectives.  Think through the reasons behind any resistance.  For example, resistance might be due lack of information, bias from a past experience, a low priority issue, etc.
  • Create a storyline for your presentation before you sit down in front of a PowerPoint template.  Consider various types of support in addition to PowerPoint slides.  These might include case studies, analogies, illustrations, and props.
  • In structuring your content, provide context (connecting your message with strategic priorities and profitability), rather than background.  The chronology of a project is rarely interesting or needed. For example, “The late tomato harvest means we will have to adjust our schedule and lay off workers for two weeks.”

Posted by Bonnie Budzowski in How to Persuade & Gain Commitment.

Got Leaky Communication?

Do ever wonder why two seemingly cooperative people can walk away from a conversation knowing they haven’t connected?   Why two people addressing the same problem can’t hear each other’s point of view?  Why communication can be so frustrating and inefficient?

Authors of Difficult Conversations (researchers at the Harvard Negotiation Project*) claim every conversation involves three levels.  When one party is addressing one level and the other is addressing a different level, misunderstanding is inevitable.  When the misunderstanding occurs, we often assume the other person is being deliberately difficult or obtuse.

Posted by Bonnie Budzowski in How to Persuade & Gain Commitment, Influence, Leadership.

Six Principles of Persuasion

In a world where every e-mail, every request and every event we plan competes against other compelling demands, the skill of persuasion is essential. Of course, you can google “persuasion” and read for hours. How do you know which advice to take and which to toss?

Believe it or not, principles of persuasion stay constant. The recognized expert in influence and persuasion is Robert Cialdini, whose groundbreaking work, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, holds a copyright date of 1984. Yet, experts still turn to Cialdini to learn six principles as relevant today as they were 20+ years ago.

Cialdini’s principles are easy to understand, and they are as relevant for you as they are for any scholar. Here’s a quick overview:

1. Principle of reciprocation
Given that every human culture follows a rule of reciprocity, we can think of it as a powerful universal law. It’s very simple: “If you give something to me, I am obligated to give something in return.”

In addition, says Cialdini, “You are given a moment of power after someone has thanked you..” Take care to use the moment productively.

Posted by Bonnie Budzowski in Business Writing Techniques, How to Persuade & Gain Commitment, Multipurpose Content.

Simple Steps to Increase Your Power to Influence

In today’s organizational environment, credibility and influence are more important than ever.  That’s why we should pay attention by research done by authors Kouzes and Posner over a 25-year period.  These authors asked people to give specific examples of what their most admired leaders did to gain their trust and respect.  They asked what leaders did that caused others to be willing to follow their lead, to be influenced by them.  Here are some of the most frequently mentioned behaviors:

  • Supported me
  • Had the courage to do the right thing
  • Challenged me
  • Acted as a mentor to others
  • Listened
  • Celebrated good work
  • Followed through on commitments
  • Trusted me
  • Empowered others
  • Made time for people
  • Admitted mistakes
  • Advised others
  • Taught well

Chances are you aren’t surprised by the answers—you already knew them.  Even so, it’s worth reflecting on the fact that these behaviors are all about service and integrity.  A significant component of the power to influence comes from supporting others and helping them grow and develop.

Posted by Bonnie Budzowski in How to Persuade & Gain Commitment, Multipurpose Content, Influence.

Tips on Persuasion: Don Quixote Style

Do you remember Sancho Panza, the faithful squire of the legendary Don Quixote?  He left his home and family to serve a crazy old man who thinks he’s a knight.  In the play, Man of LaMancha, when he is asked why, Sancho bursts into song, “Because I like him.  I really like him. . . .”

If Don Quixote has earned its place in history, so has the principle of persuasion described by Sancho.  Behavioral researchers consistently find that we are inclined to respond positively to people whom we like.  That means we buy from those we like, we accept their proposals, we comply with their requests, and we refer business to them.

This principle is simple, and it’s good news to people who are naturally charismatic.  But what about the rest of us?  What can we do to use the principle of likeability to achieve positive results?

Look for Similarities. 

Posted by Bonnie Budzowski in How to Persuade & Gain Commitment, Multipurpose Content, Influence.

Prerequisite to Persuasion

The skill of persuasion can seem difficult and elusive, belonging to a small group of elite and successful individuals.  In its essence, persuasion is really a straightforward two-step process:

  1. Identify the other party’s priorities
  2. Connect your desired outcome to the other party’s priorities

It’s simple.  If the other party is convinced that your product or service will shorten the time and effort needed to achieve what he most wants in the world, he will be eager to buy.

The supremely tricky thing, of course, is identifying the other party’s priorities.

The problem isn’t necessarily that the other party’s priorities are difficult to discern.  The problem is that we are so immersed in our own priorities that we make unwarranted assumptions.

  1. We assume that other people are, in essence, just like us, even though they have different exteriors.
  2. We also assume that people will see obvious connections between what we offer and the outcomes they are seeking to achieve.

Posted by Bonnie Budzowski in How to Persuade & Gain Commitment, Multipurpose Content, Influence.

Persuasive Communicators Resemble Trial Lawyers

Successful speaker and sales trainer, Terri Sjodin, describes how, as a young woman fresh out of college, she was floundering in a commission sales job. On a particularly low day, Sjodin went to visit her college debate teacher. The teacher convinced Sjodin to listen to an audiotape of her own sales presentation—with the ears of a debater.

The listening revolutionized Sjodin’s career. Sjodin realized she had been focusing on informing and educating her prospects when she should have been focusing on persuading them.

Sjodin revised her presentation to reflect the principles of debate—the same ones used by trial lawyers. She began to experience success as a salesperson and as a presenter. By age 34, Sjodin became one of the youngest women ever to earn the designation of CSP (Certified Speaking Professional) by the National Speakers Association. Later, Sjodin’s book, New Sales Speak, was published by John Wiley.

Sjodin’s perspective involves thinking of all business presentations as persuasive.

Posted by Bonnie Budzowski in How to Persuade & Gain Commitment, Multipurpose Content.

Attention is a Gift: Make Sure You Earn It

Sharon Bowman, consultant to professional trainers, reminds us that television programs are interrupted every eight minutes for a commercial break. To keep your audience’s attention, Bowman says, do something different every 10 minutes. (The extra two minutes make it easier to keep track).

At first sight, this is frightening information. Are things really so bad that people won’t listen to more than a snippet of information? Are we becoming dumber by the day?

Dumber? I don’t think so. In the course of my work, I meet brilliant people on a regular basis. If people are losing intelligence en mass, they are doing so outside my sphere of reference.

At the same time, in terms of how people expect information to be delivered, they are definitely changing.

The ten-minute rule makes sense, not only because people watch television, but because they multi-task both at work and at home. We are used to being interrupted, and not just by commercials.

Posted by Bonnie Budzowski in How to Persuade & Gain Commitment.

Increase Your Persuasiveness with Mirrors

Communicators who are masters of persuasion know they need to make a connection in any conversation.  They use a variety of techniques to establish that connection—like nodding as the other speaks or encouraging the other with verbal cues.  Done in the right spirit, this isn’t manipulation.  It’s simply good communication technique and good persuasion.  The technique of mirroring will help you to take the connection one step farther.

For decades, sales trainers have taught professionals to establish rapport with customers by subtly mirroring or matching their customer’s non-verbal behavior.  For example, if the customer leans back in her chair with arms crossed, an effective salesperson will lean back in her own chair.  Then, to subtly approximate the gesture of crossing, she will cross her hands on her lap.

Research has consistently shown that persuasion technique of mirroring works.  People are more likely to respond favorably to those who mirror their own non-verbal patterns than to those who don’t. 

Posted by Bonnie Budzowski in How to Persuade & Gain Commitment, Influence.

Persuasion Requires both Logic and Emotion

Business presenters typically prepare for presentations by crunching numbers and preparing PowerPoint slides and graphics. They prepare a line of logic and lay it out in PowerPoint. Once that line is clear and clean, the presenter begins to feel comfortable and confident about the presentation. It can be a big surprise when a well-planned presentation falls flat on its face.

Jay Conger, an expert on communication techniques of senior business leaders, says this:

If you are like most businesspeople…, you see persuasion as a relatively straightforward process. First, you strongly state your position. Second, you outline the supporting arguments, followed by a highly assertive, data-based exposition. Finally, you enter the deal-making stage and work toward a “close.” In other words, you use logic, persistence, and personal enthusiasm to get others to buy a good idea. The reality is that following this process is one surefire way to fail at persuasion.

Persuasion does, of course, involve logic.

Posted by Bonnie Budzowski in How to Persuade & Gain Commitment, Multipurpose Content, Influence.