2 Basic Steps That Make You More Persuasive

by Katie May, editor, Communication Briefings


If I told you that you need to read this article, would you believe me? Would you keep reading?

Probably not—especially if you receive roughly the same volume of electronic correspondence and unsolicited e-mail messages that I do. Every day, through multiple channels, countless people and causes compete for your limited attention and free time. So while I can tell you that you should keep reading, you are likely to resist that message. If I want to succeed in my goal, I need to persuade you to keep reading. But how?

The first step in persuading is to recognize the task for what it is: Selling. Any time you are working to persuade others to accept your point of view or to back your argument, you are a salesperson. Many professionals instinctively shy away from that word, seeing sales as some kind of slippery trick that they should rise above. Nothing could be further from the truth. When you seek to persuade others, you are asking them to buy in to your view. Once you understand that basic proposition, your second step is to show them the value of your offering.

You can do that in a couple of ways:

1. Establish your expertise. Why should people listen to what you have to say? How can they be sure that you know what you are talking about?

At the top of this e-mail article, notice that I put my name and referred to my credentials: I am an editor, a professional writer, and I am affiliated with a resource, Communication Briefings, that you likely know and trust.

With the byline at the top of this article, I established a level of credibility that may have been enough to keep you reading. If you don’t think that you have the personal credibility to persuade others, you can “borrow” some: Quote a famous figure, refer to an industry leader or reveal a fact that shows that you are worth listening to.

2. Draw them in. Whether you are writing or speaking to a reluctant or resistant audience, one way to build rapport is to acknowledge their skepticism or the source of their resistance. If this article had begun with a self-important “read me” message, you might not have read this far.

However, when a writer or speaker starts by referring to your skepticism, you might be intrigued. You might think “Maybe that person really does know how I feel. I wonder if that person knows as much about the other things he or she wants to tell me about.” Asking a question—even a rhetorical question—is another great way to draw your audience in.

Once you have established your credibility and drawn your audience in, you still need to persuade them to “buy” what you are selling. So what’s the next step? Ask. For many people, asking for the sale is the hardest step of all.

Want to learn how to take the next steps in convincing reluctant audiences and persuading them to “buy”?

I recommend a great resource: a Special Report called Persuading Resistant Audiences—The Key Ability to Achieve Success in Business. Author Larry Tracy is the president of Tracy Leadership Skills, a speakers’ training firm, and a well-known author and sought-after speaker. His speech “Taming Hostile Audiences” was featured in theAmerican Speaker newsletter, and his book, The Shortcut to Persuasive Presentations, has been used as a textbook for the Advanced Speaking Class at Johns Hopkins University.

I think that Persuading Resistant Audiences is a valuable resource that will benefit every workplace communicator: everyone who needs to convince employees to comply with unpalatable instructions, everyone who needs to gain support from a boss, everyone who needs to gain support, close sales and succeed on a work team.

Does that sound like anyone you know—like yourself? You will do better at work once you learn more about persuading resistant audiences. You have stuck with me this far. Take the next step: Click here to learn more.


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