Maximize Your Influence

If all my talents and powers were to be taken from me by some inscrutable Providence, and I had my choice of keeping but one, I would unhesitatingly ask to be allowed to keep the power of speaking, for through it I would quickly recover all the rest.                                                                            —Daniel Webster

Have you happened to notice the dramatic changes that have evolved in presentations, communication, and training over the last twenty years? The basic focus used to be on education. Now, the latest research is all about how to grab your audience’s attention and then maintain their interest. We can no longer focus simply on educating; we must now entertain. We must keep our audiences mentally engaged.

Great persuaders can maintain the attention of their audience. Research shows that people’s attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. You don’t have to be a stand-up comedian, but you do have to make sure your audience sticks with you, your words resonate with them, they pay attention, and they understand you. The moment you lose their attention, you can no longer persuade them. You could have a great Website, be a sharp dresser, publish a great brochure, or have any manner of impressive credentials. The reality is, however, that the number-one persuasion tool is you, and a big part of how you present yourself is through your communication. Long gone are the days of counting on the subject matter to speak compellingly for itself, compensating for your inadequacies as a presenter. Nowadays, you’ve got to get inside your audience’s minds, and you’ve got to get there fast. It can take only seconds before people’s minds start to wander. To combat this tendency, you have to educate, inspire, and entertain with passion, compassion, and purpose.

Great persuaders are great communicators. Well-known motivational speaker and best-selling author Jim Rohm said it best: “When I learned how to effectively persuade and communicate, my income went from six digits to seven digits.” Your communication skills are critical for your success, yet this is another set of overlooked skills that are not effectively taught in school. Communication includes phone skills, face-to-face interactions, group presentations, and even email.

Most persuaders feel, incorrectly, that they have above-average communication skills. Are yours “above average” too? Our research shows that 34 percent of persuaders feel they have mastered the ability to effectively communicate. However, by talking to your audience, we know that your presentation and communication mastery was rated at only 11 percent. Great persuaders work on their presentation skills on a continual basis. There is always something to fine-tune and improve.

The studies show that, on average, a persuader communicates six to eight features of his product or service to his audience, but the average person will only remember one, two, or three of them. In over 40 percent of cases, the person will remember one of the features incorrectly. In 30 percent of cases, the person remembers a feature that was never even mentioned by the persuader. (Ouch!) We also found that 93 percent of persuadees misunderstood some part of a persuader’s message. The worst part is that most of them did not ask a question or even try to seek clarification. Remember, a confused mind says no. A “confused mind,” has to think about it. A “confused mind,” will get back to you. A confused mind is hard to persuade and influence.

Direct download: Podcast_154.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:25pm CDT

Capturing Attention Immediately

What can you do in the first thirty seconds of your encounter to capture your audience’s attention? Can you prove to them that you are worth listening to? Think about this: Every time you communicate with someone, they are paying with either time or money. Your audience is rooting for you; they want you to succeed. They don’t want their time or money wasted any more than you want to waste it. Then why is it getting wasted?

Sometimes when you’re approaching something new, figuring out what you should not do is just as important as figuring out what to do. Let’s first take a look at some communication “complaints.”


  • Speaking in a monotone.
  • Avoiding eye contact.
  • Fidgeting and other annoying mannerisms.
  • Using vocal fillers (“uhm,” “uh,” etc.).
  • Lacking any emotion or conviction.
  • Sounding mechanical or rehearsed.
  • Rushing through the presentation, speaking too fast.
  • Talking down to the audience.
  • Not finding common ground.
  • Failing to help the audience see value in the presentation.
  • Pushing or pressuring the audience.
  • Overloading the audience with too much information.
  • Being disorganized, jumping from one point to the next without any flow.
  • Not checking environment beforehand to limit interruptions and distractions.
  • Exhibiting poor listening skills.
  • Saying the wrong things at the wrong moments.
  • Not adapting to the particular personality or personalities you’re working with.
  • Displaying nervousness and fear.
  • Jumping to conclusions.
  • Constantly interrupting.
  • Pushing a predetermined, one-sided solution.
  • Listening selectively.
  • Not being in tune with audience emotions.
  • Allowing personal emotions to get involved.   
  • Being knowledgeable in an arrogant way.

The good news is most of these things are easily remedied once they are pointed out. We just don’t realize how often we commit them. Great persuaders have found their presentation weaknesses. They record themselves as they present and talk on the phone. Recording yourself will let you step into your audience’s shoes and give you a true-to-life representation that’s easy to evaluate. Plus, there won’t be any second-guessing—the recording doesn’t lie. Sure, it can be a painful exercise, but you will gain invaluable insights that cannot be found in any other way. Remember what they say: “No pain, no gain.” Great persuaders will endure a little pain to maintain their high income.

Direct download: Podcast_153.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:40pm CDT

After discussing a few recent business trips, and of course, the food they ate on those trips, Kurt and Steve discuss a classic blunder: overuse of fear.  Fear is a useful tactic when persuading others.  It is very short term, however.  Kurt and Steve review some techniques to use fear effectively. 

Steve then interviews Kim Ades of Frame of Mind Coaching.  Kim's company is designed specifically to meet the needs of ambitious, highly driven, and successful individuals who want to transform their lives to achieve their biggest goals. 

During this interview, Steve asks Kim about how using a coach can help you see pitfalls that you were never even aware of.  Oftentimes, enhancing productivity involves busy people understanding what it is they really want in the first place and challenging assumptions that they thought were true.  You'll love this interview!


Direct download: Podcast_152.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:03pm CDT

You can use conversational skills as a tool with which to build new connections, while avoiding awkward pauses and uncomfortable conversations. After all, making a good first impression is all about making others feel good when spending time with each of you. Great conversationalists are made, not born.

The following tips will help you make a positive impression every time:

  • Don’t rush through conversations. Take your time, and be sure to remember names and use them frequently during conversations.
  • Show an interest in every person you meet. By showing an interest you are creating a favorable impression of yourself. People, even shy ones, like to talk about themselves, so let them.
  • Be prepared. Before entering an event, take a couple minutes and think of at least three conversation topics. Remind yourself of what you may already know about fellow attendees. Their hobbies, activities or interests. If you happen to encounter an uncomfortable silence, these conversation points will always come in handy.
  • Always maintain eye contact. Eye contact is an easy way to make others feel comfortable, important, and special.
  • Act confident through your body language, even if you are not. Nervous body language {twisting your hair, slouching shoulders, constant hand rubbing} can make others uncomfortable and anxious. Try to be aware of your body language when interacting with others.
  • Be a careful listener. By listening intently to what others are saying, you are not only making them feel important, but you can gather cues you need to keep the conversation going and bridge to new topics.
  • Don’t interrogate a conversational partner. Questions like: “Where are you from?” “Are you married?” “What do you do for a living?” can stop a conversation before it ever really starts.
  • Be respectful of the opinions of others. Not everyone agrees on things, and friendly disagreements can be a gateway to a great conversation. Offer your opinion of your favorite football team, the state of public education today, or the future of the space program. Be sure to follow up with “What do you think?”, or “Tell me your opinion.”
  • Have exit lines prepared. You will probably want to mingle with several people around the room.
Direct download: Podcast_151.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:51am CDT


Have you ever felt like you put in a bunch of work only to pave the way for your competitor?  Many persuaders inadvertently do this only to find out too late that they lost the deal.  The key to avoiding this is generating genuine scarcity.  To create genuine scarcity, make sure you have as much of the following in place:

1.  Deadlines. Give your prospects a deadline or a point of no return. We all operate on deadlines in our personal lives and in our businesses. Deadlines are what cause us to take action. If there is no immediate reason to take action now, we won't. Many people don't pay their bills until they have to. Judging by the lines outside the post office at midnight on April 15th, most of us don't pay our taxes until the last possible second. No deadline, no consequence means no action.
2.  Limited Space, Numbers, or Access. If your prospect feels like they are competing for a limited resource, they will be much more motivated to take action. When people fear they're going to miss out on a great deal, they feel an urgency to act. Think of shoppers at closeout sales. They've got to speed over there and check things out before all the stuff is "picked over." Otherwise, with the store's limited supplies, they'll miss the deal forever! This limit can also include access to information. Our response to banned or secret information is a greater desire to receive that information and a more favorable outlook toward it than we had before the ban was set in place.
3.  Potential Loss. Prospects must recognize that they might be limited in their actions if they don't take advantage of your offer. People will always overvalue the thing you are restricting. Create a state of emotion in which your prospect will fear the loss or negative consequence for not taking action.  This is an overwhelming feeling they won't be able to ignore. Motivated by restriction, your prospect becomes an emotionally motivated buyer. They will not be denied. The more you deny them, the more energy you give to your cause. You have denied their right to something, so they'll do anything to have it.
4.  Restrict Freedom. We want what we can't have. When we are told a product is or will soon be unavailable, we want it even more. Our desire goes up and so does the urgency to act. Create a scenario where you tell your prospect that the offer is only good for so long. Tell them they have to act now to take advantage of the opportunity or they will lose out. This technique works so well because we have all walked away from offers like this before, and they weren’t there when we returned. Walk through clearance stores and you will see "Sold" signs on the furniture. These signs create urgency because somebody else has found a deal, and so should we.
Direct download: Podcast_150.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:34pm CDT