50 Things to Know About the Art of Persuasion

Romantic Heart from Love SeedsBy Jillan Mullin

If you think persuading people is easy, think again.

Persuasion, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is “an act of causing people to believe in something.” This could be done in writing or in speech. This is commonly used in political debates or in sales and marketing.

The important thing about persuasion is to establish a good language that is suitable for the target audience. Unfortunately, a lot of marketers nowadays tend to limit themselves with the statistical side of marketing that they usually take for granted the power of language in persuading potential customers. Believe it or not, there had been numerous instances in ad copy-writing where a single word change in an existing ad had caused a huge impact in sales rate. In the same way, write-ups could also spell doom to a company when mishandled.

Here are the 50 things you need to know about successful persuasion

1. Know your audience – The first thing that you need to know when it comes to persuasion is your intended audience. Gathering information about your target crowd helps in developing a successful persuading strategy. This is why it is not unusual for companies to spend thousands of dollars in marketing researches because they recognize the importance of understanding their potential consumers.

2. Make use of Positive Words – Negative and “heavy-loaded” words bog down and discourage people. Positive words like excellent, amazing, largest, outstanding, and revolutionary tend to sound better and encourage people more.

3. Be Direct to the point – Avoid diverting to other topics, especially when it is irrelevant to your main idea. Be direct to the point. Your audience will appreciate it more if you feed them the details immediately.

4. Do Extensive Research – Never underestimate the importance of research. Before pitching your product, it is best that you do some extensive study first. Know its strengths and weaknesses and if possible, gather data about your competitor’s products as well. In debates, this translates to researching your topic and finding loopholes on your opponent’s ideas.

5. Make and Keep Promises – Sweet promises are one of the essential contents of a persuasion. But don’t be that guy who throws empty promises, or your audience will definitely ruin you and your business. Be realistic with what you are promising to your audience.

6. Embrace the powers of social media – Take advantage of the fact that almost everyone is on Facebook. Create your own groups and pages to promote your product or ideas.

7. Target the Bandwagon – Formal logic tells you that the bandwagon effect is a fallacy. But in the art of persuasion, knowing the latest craze helps you to reach out to your audience more quickly.

8. Provide a social proof – If possible, establish a connection with a well-known social issue or event to catch the attention of your audience.

9. Address primary needs – You are likely to gain the attention of the crowd if your proposition addresses their primary needs (food, clothing, shelter, etc.)

10. Add some story telling – Captivate your audience by telling them entertaining stories related to your main idea.

11. Challenge the audience – You may include some challenges for your audience to adhere to. This is typical to the persuading strategies of environmentalists.

12. Address your weaknesses – Talking all about strengths would definitely make you sound like your just bluffing. Discuss some flaws or weaknesses as well, then quickly back it up with a promise telling them that everything is going to be alright.

13. Create a web page- In addition to tip #6, you may also create your own web page to stretch your limits outside the boundaries of social media.

14. Be simple – Don’t baffle your audience with complex words. Make it sound simpler by using words that we commonly use to converse every day.

15. Address accordingly – Show your audience some respect by addressing them accordingly. Use “sir” for gents and “madam” for ladies (seriously, I’ve seen a lot of people who screwed up on this) and use appropriate titles for people (Attorney, Doctor, Professor.)

16. Provide a teaser -Just like in the movies, you may also make use of teasers to arouse the curiosity of your audience.

17. Make use of rhetorical techniques – Using metaphors and catchy phrases helps in attracting the attention of your audience

18. Have a Strong Start – Your audience will judge you from the first 3 sentences that you will make on your speech or letters. Start things strong to hook your audience from start to finish.

19. Avoid negative and dragging words – Heavy and negative words will make your audience hesitant. Don’t use them at all cost.

20. Be Friendly – Make your audience feel comfortable by being nice to them. They are more likely to agree with you if you make them feel good or comfortable.

21. Use “we” – Instead of using “I”, make use of “We” instead to make your audience feel that you are one of them.

22. Be Convincing – In the art of persuasion, you have to be really convincing, else you will just appear to be desperate.

23. Make use of “The hook statement” – A hook statement is intended to convince your audience to stay and read or listen to your proposition. Obviously, this should be done at the very start.

24. Read your work in front of a practice audience – Before engaging your actual audience, it is advisable to rehearse your piece in front of friends who are willing to evaluate and criticize your strengths and weaknesses.

25. Share your experiences – You may share your personal insights or experiences to your audience and make them feel that you are an open-minded person.

26. Incorporate values – Promoting good social values will make your audience feel that you are of moral character.

27. Double check your work – The Mariner 1 disaster of 1962
caused the U.S government an estimated $80 million dollars worth of loss. The cause of the disaster?: A missing hyphen which will go down in history as “the most expensive hyphen.” The lesson here is to always double-check your work for all errors. If you are working on a marketing ad or a persuasive letter, make sure that you proofread you work. You may do it personally, or if you are quite unsure, you may avail custom writing services to have them write or edit your writing needs.

28. Focus on agreeable facts – Start by throwing some topics which you could all agree about like the weather or the traffic. The goal here is to get them so say “yes” too many times that by the time you present your main idea, they wouldn’t find it so hard to agree to you.

29. Give them their benefits – People won’t follow you unless they get something out of it. So you should clearly state the possible benefits that they can get from you or your product/idea.

30. keep your voice active – Using the active voice attracts and convinces more compared to when you use a passive tone instead.

31. Know the value of timing – Timing is everything. When it is against you, all your efforts will only produce little or no results. But it works wonders when it is in your favor. If you are aware of the importance of timing, then you are likely to succeed in life.

32. Rely on Credibility – Make sure that the information that you will throw in came from credible sources

33. Create urgency – Make it look as if your topic or idea is of their urgent need, hence, something that requires their immediate attention.

34. Do it fast – Talking fast gives the audience an impression that you are confident and knowledgeable with what you are saying. When talking to people, it is best to talk fast and remain comprehensible at the same time.

35. Be assertive – Persuasion is a “power game”. Assert yourself at all times, but be careful not to overdo it.

36. Stay Consistent – Be consistent with what you are telling the people. otherwise, they might think that you are only bluffing or lying.

37. Be Persistent – Obstacles and critics will always be there. But what is important

38. Know the powers of consensus – Discuss and focus on points that are generally accepted

39. Learn to read people – Skilled observes know how to gather information from people by mere observation of their gestures, mannerisms, speech, etc. This is an advantage in the art of persuasion.

40. Get them to agree with you with small things first – Get them to agree with the small and easy things about your proposition before moving forward to the bigger and more complicated ones.

41. Be balanced – It is important to be balanced in delivering your key points. Let your audience understand the good and the bad things in relation to your argument.

42. Be confident – People will most probably agree with you more if you sound confident while delivering your pitch. Don’t let your audience feel that you are nervous.

43. Use bullet points if applicable – When you are doing persuasive writing, make sure that your write-up is not too wordy. Remember that your audience is too busy to even read long paragraphs. Instead, use bullet points to emphasize on your key ideas and make sure that your copy has a good headline.

44. Scarcity – Words like “limited supply”, “First come, first serve”, and “promo until this week only” are examples of the persuading technique called “Scarcity”. As you may have already noticed, scarcity is a subconscious way of persuading someone by making it look like he only has limited time to obtain the thing that he needs.

45. Give a good impression – First impression does matter. Be sure to leave a good first impression to your audience as early as possible. Your good points and ideas will be useless if your audience doesn’t like you. Be sure to dress neatly and converse properly.

46. Don’t pressure them to much – Although the idea here is to get them to side with you, putting to much pressure on your audience may backfire and you might lose them instead.

47. Reciprocation – Your audience will appreciate it more if you will do something nice for them first before pitching. During business meetings, you might want to offer your clients come coffee or pastries before the meeting.

48. Structure it well – Follow a well-planned structure when you are persuading people. Start with the introduction, followed by your main points, some supporting details, then a conclusion.

49. Find a common ground – In persuading people, you must make it appear that you are of equal status as them. Appearing too “high” might intimidate them, while appearing too “low” might cause them to disrespect you.

50. Gain their trust – Finally, the most important thing to remember in persuading people is that you have to gain their trust. They will never subscribe to your ideas if they deemed you as untrustworthy.

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