Reviews of the oral communication and persuasion research has identified a number of suggestions that can help you improve your persuasive skills:
- Establish your credibility. Nothing undermines persuasive efforts more than a lack of credibility. People don’t want to listen to a person they don’t trust and respect. Develop your expertise in the area in which you are trying to influence others. By being warm and friendly and making sure that your information is reliable, you can develop mutual trust with influencees. A dynamic presentation style also helps, as does a good reputation with others whom the influencee might consult about your ideas and intentions.
- Use a positive, tactful tone. Assume the person you’re trying to persuade is intelligent and mature. Don’t talk down to that person. Be respectful, direct, sincere, and tactful.
- Make your presentation clear. In the event persuasion is successful, what exactly do you want to accomplish? This delineation of an objective should guide your presentation. Present your argument one idea at a time.
- Present strong evidence to support your position. You need to explain why what you want is important. You should demonstrate with strong supporting evidence why someone should do as you wish. The responsibility for building the case lies with you.
- Tailor your argument to the listener. To whom are you talking? What are the person’s goals, needs, interests, fears, and aspirations? How much does the listener know about the subject your’re discussing? Does the person have preconceived views on this subject? If so, how do they align with yours? How does this person like to be treated? What is his or her behavioral style? Answering questions like these can help you define the right persuasion strategy to use.
- Appeal to the subject’s self-interest. To persuade people effectively, you need to understand what makes them tick. Then you can put yourself into their position when you make a request. An individual’s behavior is directed toward satisfying self-interests. You need to appeal to that self-interest by anticipating, before you make any demands, that the subject will ask, “What’s in it for me?”
- Use logic. A logical, reasoned argument is not guaranteed to persuade the subject, but if you lack facts and reasons to support your argument, your persuasiveness almost certainly will be undermined.
- Use emotional appeals. Presenting clear, rational, and objective evidence in support of your views is often not enough. You also should appeal to a person’s emotions. Try to reach inside the subjects and understand their loves, hates, fears, and frustrations. Then use that information to mold what you say and how you say it.