Daniel O’Keefe says it implies some measure of freedom (i.e. free will, free choice, voluntary action). “Forcing others to act is not the same as truly persuading them.”
I like O’Keefe’s perspective because it suggests the two-way-ness needed to change minds.
While we’re all absolutely unique, most people require a combination of logic, trust-building and emotion to adopt a new view.
Here’s what you need to know to effectively persuade:
- Relate to your audience – We’re all attracted to ideas and messages that support our own core values and beliefs. Understand what will hit home with the people you’re trying to persuade; what will turn them on and off. Don’t try to persuade them about something they’ll instinctively reject. Find common ground first. Gain goodwill by highlighting values the audience and communicator hold in common.
- One-to-one still rules – Whenever you have the chance to establish rapport face-to-face … do it. In-person communication is still the best. Be very conscious of non-verbal codes of communication, i.e., the body language you convey. It’s not just what you say, but how you say it.
- Be logical – Effective persuasion is thoughtfully supported… so use facts and compelling evidence. But don’t over-do it. Facts alone do not persuade.
- Offer up social proof – Third parties viewed as independent and objective are inherently perceived as more credible. This approach supports our natural tendency to determine if something is true by instinctively finding out what other people think (especially people we respect).
- Repeat yourself – Saying it once doesn’t cut it. All the research shows persuasion works best when you sustain a concise message over time. The other key is to communicate in different ways, not just one way. Figure out what will resonate best with your target audience.
- Package it up – We all have short attention spans. We glance, barely notice, skip and skim. Take complicated thoughts and ideas and wrap them with bright paper and a shiny bow. Use simple messages, colorful analogies, bold statements, catchy phrases. Package up your thoughts…make top 10 lists, write captions, create slogans.
- Visualize it – Find ways to visually convey messages with symbols and images. American patriots used this technique way back during the Revolutionary War – drawing a cut-up rattlesnake, for example – to convey the need to mobilize and unify the founding states. This concept holds true today. People “get it” more quickly when they see a picture. There’s never been a better time for a visual approach, thanks to the Internet.
- Use emotion – People are persuaded when they experience something. Envelop persuasive messages – and the people delivering them – in such a away that people feel, as well as hear, your message.
- Keep it light – Life (and business) is serious stuff; many people are tired, concerned, skeptical, nervous and scared. Make your case by lightening up. People will relax and listen better.
- Tell stories – Facts are important, but they’re not enough. Get your point across by telling stories. Develop characters, build narrative, create drama, make it real. If you’re talking about a new product, paint colorful pictures of how your product will make lives more interesting and overcome challenges. Help them envision the better place it will take them to.
- Don’t be myopic – Studies repeatedly prove that people opposed to an idea are more likely to be persuaded to an opposing position when presented with both sides of an issue.
- Convey competence – Make sure people understand your experience and insight. Don’t brag about it; just share it at appropriate moments in a low-key way.
- Be confident – Persuasive communications aren’t hesitant, they’re confident. Convey enthusiasm and conviction.