Unlock your power of persuasion
Unlock your power of persuasion
If you can’t persuade anyone you will get nowhere at all.
Of the many skills you need in life, persuasion is surely the most important.
Indeed, however brilliant your ideas are, they will not be taken on board unless you are able to convince your target audience of their value. This is where rhetoric comes in.
Rhetoric is the art of knowing how to persuade your audience. To the ancients, it was so important that it was an integral part of any quality education. They knew that without mastering its tricks, students would not advance in life, business or politics.
Today, only a select number of people (businessmen, politicians, …) have been thoroughly trained in the art of persuasion, as rhetorics has all but disappeared from our modern curricula.
The Presence Academy teaches people the art of persuasion so that they can have their voices heard in their private and professional lives.
This article concentrates on the basic toolkit of rhetorics introduced by Aristotle more than 2000 years ago. He identified 3 important aspects of persuasion: ethos, pathos and logos.
When you address an audience (or even 1 person), they immediately form an opinion of you, based on what they see when they meet you. In today’s day and age, however, this first encounter may happen through Google and the first impression may be formed before you’ve even uttered a single word.
Merely controlling your appearance is therefore no longer enough. You need to actively shape your ethos, i.e your reputation.
Your ethos has to do with your position in society, your job and everything people can learn about you via the internet or other sources. Monitor what appears on the social media about you, and consider the possible effect of what you are sharing before you hit ‘post’.
One way of controlling your ethos on the internet is to make sure you define a “style guide” for yourself. Ask yourself how you want others to perceive you and act accordingly. Don’t forget that once your reputation gets damaged, it is very hard to set this straight. This so-called situated ethos is built over time and will determine how people view you when they first meet you.
You can confirm or correct people’s perception of you during live or virtual meetings, i.e. work on your invented ethos. In order to do this, here are some important questions to be considered:
- what is the background of the other person and what is important to them (Google will gladly help you with this)
- what is the setting of the meeting?
- what are its objectives?
- what does your audience know about you?
If you think this through and do your research properly, you will lay the groundwork for the process of persuasion.
People make decisions based on their emotions. Neuroscience has shown that we are not as rational as we like to believe. Our actions are often conditioned by underlying emotions of which we may not even be aware.
This offers a real opportunity for persuasion.
If you can trigger the right emotional response in your audience, you have won most of the battle and you are ready to rally them to your cause.
The key is to discover what their communication style is: do they have a sense of humour or do they prefer conducting meetings in a serious atmosphere? Try some “probes” to see what works and what doesn’t. This will enable you to finetune your speech and maximise its effect.
Once you know the ethos of your audience and you have created the pathos to instil the right emotions in them, you are ready to win the day.
Present logical arguments to make your point and then wait for the “kairos”, i.e. the propitious moment or window of opportunity for addressing a particular issue with a particular audience. As soon as you feel that your audience is at its most receptive, drop your truth bomb and your message will go down like candy.
It does of course take some practice to build up to and recognise this tilting point, but once you have acquired this technique, you will become a master persuader and nothing will stand in your way.
Let us persuade you!
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