Take Small Steps to Persuade


Confucius said a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and, oddly enough, persuading people to accept an idea or take some action works the same way. The trick is to know what small steps to take.

In How To Argue With a Cat, rhetorical ninja Jay Heinrich says a persuader’s goal shouldn’t be to win an argument; it should be to use argument techniques to win over people. One such tool is likeability, or what psychologists call "affective presence". It's a matter of how a person makes others around them feel.

So, if you (or the speaker you write for) has to give a talk to a roomful of skeptical listeners, take these three small steps to increase the chances the audience will find you likeable:

Early in your talk emphasize something significant that you share in common with the audience.
Before you get into the sticky bits, raise a point that you and the audience can agree on.
Throughout your talk, take a lesson from the world of improv and avoid using the phrase “Yes…but…” to support your arguments. As comedy performers will tell you, that approach raises hackles and shuts down the interaction fast. Instead, use a “Yes…and…” framework to keep the audience open to your ideas while you continue to guide them toward your point of view or the action you want them to take.
Take your speechwriting skills to new levels. Explore many more ways to be persuasive and add more impact to your speeches. Join me for two intensive small-group workshops in Ottawa, October 28 & 29 2019. You’ll take away tons of tools, templates, tips and tactics you can put to use right away and rely on for the rest of your career.