Of all the things that you could be doing right now, you chose to click on this article. What exactly is it that you made to decide to read this piece?
Perhaps you have a persuasive essay that is due in one of your classes and you just need to finalize the material. Maybe you have to give a presentation in work and you just aren’t quite sure how to effectively get your point across. You may even be wondering how to convince that special someone you’ve been crushing on to go on a second date with you.
If any of those situations apply to you, or if you are still reading because you just want us to get to the point and tell you how to be more persuasive, we’ve got you covered. We have five simple secrets that will help you to persuade your audience to do something, whoever your audience may be.
1. Connect to emotion
One of the most effective persuasive techniques is creating a message with an emotional appeal for the person who is viewing or listening to the message. This is a tactic that sometimes one may be doing without even realizing it, but cognitively recognizing it can make all the difference between whether the delivery of a message will or will not persuade someone. Aristotle calls this emotional appeal pathos.
“You are capable of accomplishing more than you think you can if you just give your very best”
On its own, that statement might not mean a whole lot. But we challenge anybody who is reading this article to watch the video below and NOT come away from it wanting to be a little better. The first time I watched this video is when I had a leader show it to me and then expand on it in context. The video had an emotional appeal but the overall message that this leader presented to me is one I will never forget.
Figure out how you want your message to connect to people emotionally and tailor it in such a way that others are motivated to act on those emotions.
2. Be the expert
Would you want anyone other than Tennis professional Serena Williams giving you professional Tennis lessons as shown in the video above? Obviously not. For that same reason you should build credibility in your message, also known as Ethos. Your audience is smarter than you might think and can discern whether you’re qualified to make your message.
Another example can be found in a video I directed for BYU’s Divine Comedy. The Cast member wrote the parody lyrics and we co-wrote the visual story to supplement the song. I like to think I’m funny sometimes but I knew since she was the Cast member, she was ultimately more qualified in telling the right jokes. My usefulness was executing a creative vision that utilized the right cinematic and story techniques to tell the joke she wanted to tell. Thus, we concocted a synthesis of what one had more credibility in than the other, so we could make a final product that wasn’t made by fraudulent hacks.
3. Make sense logically
It seems obvious and simple, but we can’t stress enough the importance of logos. If you want to be persuasive, what your saying needs to make sense. Your underlying message should be clear and direct.
Factual evidence and statistics can help get your point across. Consider, for example, this picture of an anti-smoking ad:
The message here is simple and clear but provides a statement that makes logical sense. I’m no smoker but if I was, the simple logic of saving money that is presented here but would be a pretty convincing argument for me to stop.
4. When people lose themselves in a story, their attitudes and intentions change to reflect that story
Narrative Transportation Theory is an explanation as to how shared emotions and familiar imagery are used to make you reflect the attitudes and beliefs of the characters. The Journal of Consumer Research says this includes techniques to make you personally identify with something in the story, called self-referencing.
We like identifying somehow with the content we consume, right? I love Star Wars partly because of the classic hero’s journey of Luke, a normal kid swept into a grand adventure and thus making a difference. This classic “hero’s journey” that Star Wars derives its story from is one of the oldest and most timeless archetypal stories ever and it’s partially due to this.
Think of a film, tv episode or commercial where you felt immersed in it because something about the story resonated with you personally. Now think about what would immerse and resonate with your target audience. It doesn’t need to be anything insanely deep if it doesn’t need to be, you just need to immerse your audience. Check out this great Orbit Gum commercial.
5. Know your audience
All of the tips that we have mentioned above will become more effective as you come to recognize who your audience is. While all of these techniques can help lead you to becoming more persuasive, some people will react differently in certain contexts.
It’s highly unlikely that you would use the exact same methods for selling yourself on a second date that you would with an interviewer when you are applying for a job. Understanding who your audience is and what motivates them to action can set the tone for how you approach your message, and if your focus should be on establishing credibility, using logic and facts, or creating the desired response through an appeal to emotion.
You wanted to be more persuasive and if you’re still reading this article, you can consider yourself ahead of the game. These five secrets seem so simple, but we encourage you to keep all of them mind when constructing a persuasive message. If you want to push that essay from a B to an A or if you really ‘wow’ your audience with that presentation of yours, these 5 secrets are the best place to start.