In the past few articles we’ve been discussing, in theory, how to master the art of persuasion. Now it’s time to move on and take tangible steps to get better. Here’s how.
Preparation for Persuasion
1) Derive From Others
Good substance sparks good style. When you are confident about your material, naturally you become more confident when you present. The thing is, where does all this material come from? You may have an idea, but what is the origin of that idea? Clearly, it didn’t pop out from nowhere.
Ultimately, all our thoughts and imagination are sourced from others. People inspire people –we look at what others have to say and we use it as a basis to our own thoughts and ideas. This isn’t to say that to get better at persuasion, we have to copy others. Rather, to get better at persuasion, you have to learn from others.
Start by immersing yourself in content. Don’t limit yourself to a specific set of content, but spread out your time among different topics. Topics are often interrelated; the key is bringing them together to create something new. Watch YouTube videos, read articles, or stalk a forum. Add your own thoughts to the thoughts of others; analyze and break down what they have to say. Or use their thoughts as a starting point for your own discovery of a topic. That’s how we push human thought forward.
2) Make a Conscious Effort to Rectify Flaws
We all make our mistakes when it comes to presenting. Some have problems with ‘umms’ and ‘uhhs’ when they speak; others rely on filler statements to comfort themselves such as “in the end” or “sooner or later.” Some may even talk too slow and lazily; others just sound unconfident.
These are problems ingrained within the way we present. Thus, the only way to overcome them is to actively devote time to overcoming them. When speaking, have an active reminder to not commit your usual mistakes. Have someone act as an alert for you whenever you stray back into your natural way of speaking. Sooner or later, your new fluid way of speaking will become natural to the way you present in the end.
Practicing speaking in front of a mirror is slightly creepy, but some may find it useful. Re-watching videos of yourself speaking (or even re-reading content you’ve written previously) is an excellent way of gauging yourself. Often, we just need to listen to ourselves to realize what needs to be repaired when we interact.
3) Get Feedback
Persuasion is an art that specifically targets specific people. To get better at it, you have to listen to what others think about you. Read their comments or ask them questions. Find out what they dislike about your style and find out what makes them come back. Use that as grounds to improve your presentation skills –after all, to persuade others, you must be one with others.