Communicate effectively and influence others using persuasion

The use of important words takes on a big part of my job, and I usually prepare ahead of time for meetings and presentations. I always talk about the power of storytelling, but today I’d like to stop on “how” to do it. If we want to cause the desired effect on others we have to use the right words, and for that, we must persuade them.

Even though Mehrabian´s famous rule says that 93% of the non-verbal communication has an effect on the final message, there is a remaining 7% that falls upon words and in spite of looking like a small figure, believe me, it is very important and it must not be left unattended. What can we do then so our speech can have influence over those who are listening? Here are some tips I want to share with you:

  • Consider the other person: be in someone’s shoes and consider what benefit they’ll get from what you are saying.
  • Argument your case: Remember people react better to a petition if it is backed up properly. Explain yourself, list benefits and justify actions.
  • Speak clearly! It is important that you know what you are going to say and that you show confidence, speak fluidly and avoid hesitations.
  • Show enthusiasm: If reasons are the hook to persuade, emotions will give the action a push. Transmit your message with energy and trust.
  • Use the most effective words to persuade: They help to improve messages, making a difference and bringing something more interesting to the table than just a simple phrase.

In marketing for example, words like “free”, “easy”, “guaranteed”, “new”, “powerful”, “you”, “better”, “offersalediscount” among others, are widely used. Clear examples of that are e-commerce such as Ebay and Amazon; when they point out a product has “Free Shipping” or when they show the products “On sale”, what happens inside our minds in those case is that the buying intention increases because these outlets are giving us reasons to purchase the product, and they’re also thinking about how important it is for us as buyers, to save money on other expenses, like shipping itself.

The act of persuasion is a true art and for a leader since his/her messages must rely on justifiable arguments. That is why political leaders use stats that back their claims, or – in the case of Presidential Candidates – it is also a common place to find within their speeches, analogies, data and even references to values and qualities of the audience.

Stories that engage, that persuade.

Storytelling is one of my favorite resources and I am constantly learning about it. A while ago, I read an interesting article in the Harvard Business Review about why our brain loves a good story and the answer lies on Neuroscience, explaining that Oxytocin is the signal our brain uses to allow us to reach others.

The role played by this hormone in the brain is involved in social relations, mostly in aspects regarding trust and generosity, which allows us to increase empathy and thus generate emotions in others. What should you do then? You should take advantage of the fact that 63% of people remember stories they are told, without disregarding the 5% that keeps numbers or statistics.

If you want to motivate, persuade or be remembered, start by telling a story and give it a plot that leads to success. This will connect you with people’s feelings, but it will reach their brains first. The message of a leader must have a call to action using emotions and, therefore, raising the interest of those who are listening. After that, fact-checking and quoting research papers from renowned institutions will call their attention and they are good ways to rely on verifiable data.

Finally, it is important to provide that attention call with a purpose. Why should they take your ideas? My advice is that you add these recommendations to your repertoire. Remember it’s not only about pretty words, the point is to be able to influence your listeners!