If you aren’t going to say it well, you might as well not say it. The road to becoming a sharp smooth-talker is paved with many trials and tribulations. Learning to persuade doesn’t just change your speech: It changes your fundamental thinking of human interactions.
Persuasion is a multi-dimensional art. It is a culmination of numerous factors that work together to spark a change in the person you talk to. It isn’t just for politicians or lawyers; nearly every aspect of human conversation has its roots in persuasion. Managers, small business owners and people with mother-in-laws all rely on persuasion, and it doesn’t stop there.
For something that is so common in our lives, the art of persuasion is often sidestepped. Rather than becoming an active part of our life, it has become an inert component of our daily lives that we pay little heed to. Learning to persuade effectively is a skill that augments every part of your life: Talking to customers is far easier; managing the workplace becomes a tad less difficult; earning the respect of those around you happens naturally.
While persuasion compromises of many factors, most public speakers and debaters around the world would divide it into 3 neat categories:
The Art of Persuasion
In other words, what you’re saying. Talk rubbish and even the most god-like persona won’t pull you through (There have been exceptions though). To persuade, people must find value in what you say. Your words must resonate and speak to them on a personal basis.
Substance is about identifying what a person wants to hear, and then letting them hear it. In a more work-related context, this aspect deals with the ability to pick and choose content that is relevant to a fellow co-worker or employee. Good ideas spur conviction.
Or rather, how you say it. People with brilliant ideas are often sidestepped merely because they don’t sound nice. The harder it is to listen to you, the less likely it is for people to do so. Having bad style means relying heavily on your substance to deliver your persuasion –and not every piece of content you have is going to be mind-blowing.
Style is a very subjective aspect. Many things go into the formation of a persuasive style. Body language, intonation, eye contact, and choice of words are subsets of effective style. It’s about being human and letting others feel the depth of your thoughts.
Strategy is everything else. It compromises your ability to package style and substance into structured and coherent statements. It also involves your ability to strategically use whatever time given to you to deliver a convincing piece of information –the human attention span is a finicky thing so don’t expect people to appreciate a rambler.
Strategy can also involve learning about the audience you are talking to. Different situations require different strategies.
All the things above seem extremely hard to master –and they are, but knowing is the first path to practicing. Upon breaking down the components of persuasion, you will realize that delivering a convincing speech or being a charismatic powerhouse in the workplace isn’t as mind-boggling as it once was. In the next few articles, we shall further explore the art of persuasion.