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Persuasion starts with a succinct goal

by on
in Office Communication,Workplace Communication

Identify your goal before you try to persuade others. What action do you want them to take as a result of your remarks?

To stay on track and keep things simple, reduce your goal to 12 words or fewer. It should capture the outcome you hope to produce, the conclusion you want others to reach or the belief you wish to plant in their heads.

When preparing your goal, pinpoint how it satisfies others’ needs. Replace, “Buy this tool because I stand by it 100%” with “Buy this tool because it saves time and lowers your cost.” Your goal should anticipate one’s concerns and address them head-on.

After you write a succinct goal, ask yourself, “What’s the best support I can offer?” Consider facts, data, users’ experience or anecdotes that attest to the merits of your proposal.

Select three or four supporting points to build a strong case. These “proof points” need to resonate with your audience. If you’re trying to persuade a data-driven technician, for instance, cite recent statistics that substantiate your claim. If you’re appealing to a skeptic, share triumphant stories from other skeptics whom you persuaded.

When deciding which proof points to use, examine to what extent your listeners will see the relevance of what you say. Apply the “so what?” test: Ensure that your evidence clearly buttresses your case and there’s no way people will reply, “So what?” Before telling stories or citing facts, make it easy for others to answer, “Why should I care about this?”

— Adapted from Loud & Clear, Karen Berg, Career Press.

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