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Bookshelf: Secrets of Persuasive Power

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in Leaders & Managers,Office Management,Workplace Communication

For Jay A. Conger, the author of Winning ‘Em Over (Simon & Schuster, 1998), persuasion occurs constantly during a typical workday. Even if you’re not a salesperson or professional negotiator, you need to exert influence when relating information, giving instructions and arguing a point. For Conger, top managers are top persuaders.

The book piggybacks on Aristotle’s three keys for rhetorical success: logic, emotion and credibility. By blending these elements in the proper proportion, you can deliver crisp, powerful messages that compel others to act as you wish.

Conger gives many pointers on how you can strengthen the logical underpinnings of your position. Rather than drown your audience in too much information, the author suggests that you selectively mention only the most relevant, compelling pieces of evidence. Here’s why:

Short-term memory has its limits. Conger cites a Harvard study that found on average listeners could hold only six or seven slices of data without forgetting them. Audiences in a typical presentation will only take away as little as 10 percent of what they hear. Even with the most captivating speakers, retention only increases to a still-low 50 percent. That explains the “include much, impress little” trap.

Tangents add confusion. If you tend to ramble or oversell your points, Conger recommends that you ask yourself three questions before you say a word:
  • What’s the core idea?
  • If you had to summarize your whole point in no more than three statements, what would they be?
  • Finally, what’s your best supporting evidence? Prepare to cite the source of your evidence to gain credibility.

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