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The techniques most people use to persuade… they’d be better-off doing press-ups

Tags: Presentations | Influencing

6th May

Got an imminent opportunity where you need someone to choose you? Maybe you’ve got a job interview coming up? Or a sales presentation?

Remember, the other person – the ‘chooser’ – is thinking one thing:

"Will this person improve my future, better than everyone else can?"

So, persuasion is all about two things:

  1. Finding the chooser’s desired future; and
  2. Proving you’re their best bet to achieving it

It sounds obvious. But what do most people do?

  • With CVs, people list their past achievements, with zero reference to the interviewer’s future
  • With sales presentations, instead of talking about the customer’s future (‘We can help you increase sales’), people bang on about their own past (‘We were founded in 1922’)

When you think about it, this couldn’t be more wrong. The ‘choosers’ want you to focus on only two things – them and their future. But these people are focusing on the total opposite – themselves and their own past. In many ways, they’d be better off doing press-ups… at least that would be totally irrelevant, rather than 180 degrees in the wrong direction.

Most people think they’re better at being future-focused than they are. So why not do a quick check?

  • Print off your most recent version of your CV, a sales presentation, a proposal, or some such
  • Get a highlighter pen, and highlight when you write about the chooser’s future

You’ll find you discuss their future in one of three places:

  1. Nowhere. This is very common, but not very persuasive!
  2. At the end of things – bottom of paragraphs and slides; later sections in documents and presentations etc. It’s good that it’s in there. But it’s in the wrong place. Choosers’ concentration drops during a communication. So they might have switched off by the time they get to, what is to them, the most important part
  3. At the start of things – title of the communication, titles in the contents page, intro 1-2 paragraphs of every section etc. This is by far the best

In my experience:

  • Most CVs are like Point 1 – the chooser’s future doesn’t figure anywhere
  • Most sales communications are like Point 1 or 2 – the chooser’s future isn’t there. Or, if it is, it’s in the wrong place

What a huge opportunity for all of us. Other people – the people you’re competing against – aren’t highlighting the chooser’s future enough/at all. What simple changes could you make, that the choosers would love you to make, to make you stand out?

That’s got to be a better bet than cracking out a few press-ups…

Action point

The Action is in the Tip this week:

  • print a recent ‘persuasion communication’ and highlight the chooser’s future
  • make the necessary changes so it’s more future-focused next time
  • email me if you have any questions about how to edit it quickly and painlessly!