Maximize Your Influence

That first thirty seconds with your audience are critical. How do you start? Great persuaders craft and design their message. There is no room to wing it. Your opening is where your audience formulates and settles into their impressions of you. Think of your opening or introduction as comprising no more than 10 percent of your full presentation. Budgeting your speech in this manner forces you to organize your time so that you know exactly what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it. 

 As you move from the opening of your presentation to the main body, it is helpful to remember the acronym TESS, which stands for testimonials, examples, statistics, and stories. Top persuaders tend to incorporate each of these elements into their presentations. Our research shows that when speaking to an audience, each point of TESS will resonate with different audience members. On average, TESS resonates as follows:

Testimonials                12%

Examples                     23%

Statistics                      18%

Stories                         47%


       Testimonials. A testimonial is a person’s statement or declaration of what they believe and assert to be true. In your presentation, it can be your own, or it can come from a third party. Testimonials are a source of social validation—people assume that if others believe in it, then they should too. Great persuaders know how to use testimonials when their credibility is low. Make sure your testimonials are believable and unbiased and that they are qualified for your audience. 

            Examples. An example is an explanation or model that demonstrates or illustrates your point. Instead of just spouting off facts, examples make your points come alive. Examples reinforce your ideas and make them vivid and real in the mind of your audience. Examples can be taken from research studies, from articles you’ve read—and they can be personal anecdotes. 

           Statistics. In a consumer climate that is increasingly skeptical, I recommend using statistics sparingly. Everyone knows that you can “cook the books” and find statistics to prove almost anything; your audience wants credible statistics. Statistics resonate with the logical mind, and when convincing, they are very persuasive. In particular, the analytical minds in your audience will love you and want to know the source. Most statistics need to be explained and often work best with visual aids.

            Stories. The most powerful of the four elements of TESS are stories. They draw your audience in while helping them understand and appreciate your message. I’m sure you can think of a time when you were in an audience, not paying much attention to the speaker. You were probably off in your own world, when all of a sudden, you perked up and started to listen because the speaker started telling a story. When we hear a story, we automatically tune in and want to know what happens next.

Direct download: Podcast_182_-_Perfect_Persuasive_Presentation_Part_2.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 8:00am CDT

Structuring Persuasive Presentations

Why should we be concerned with the structure of a persuasive presentation? Top predictor of professional success is how much you enjoy and how good you are at public speaking.   Studies also show the ability to give presentations was ranked as the most critical skill needed to move up in today’s business environment.


Before we jump into the meat of this topic, remember as you prepare your persuasive message that you want to focus on one defined issue. You are not there to persuade on ten different points. Stay focused and steer clear of sensitive issues that aren't on your original agenda. In other words, don't inadvertently offend your audience on one issue when your focus in on another. The structure of your persuasive message should follow the pattern discussed below.


  1. Create Interest

You have to generate an interest about your chosen topic. Your audience needs a reason to listen: Why should they care? What's in it for them? How can you help them? A message that starts with a really good reason to listen will grab the attention of the audience, enabling you to continue with the message. Without this attention, there is no hope of getting your message across.


  1. State the Problem

You must clearly define the problem you are trying to solve. The best pattern for a persuasive presentation is to find a problem and relate how it affects the audience. In this way, you show them a problem they have and why it is of concern to them. Why is this a problem to your audience?  


  1. Offer Evidence

This is the support you give to your argument. Evidence validates your claims and offers proof that your argument is correct. It allows your audience to rely on other sources besides you. Evidence can include examples, statistics, testimonies, analogies, and any other supporting material used to enhance the integrity and congruency of your message.


  1. Present a Solution

You have gained your audience's interest and provided evidence in support of your message; now you must solve their problem. You present the argument you want them to believe and satisfy the need you have identified or created. You have created dissonance and now you are providing the solution. How can your product meet their needs and wants and help them achieve their goals?


  1. Call to Action

A persuasive message is not true persuasion if your audience does not know exactly what they need to do. Be specific and precise. In order to complete the solution to their problem, they must take action. This is the climax, the peak of your logic and emotion. The prescribed actions must be feasible. Make your call to action as easy as possible.


Using this type of structure facilitates people's acceptance of your message and clarifies what you want them to do. We all have a logical side to our mind, which results in our need for order and arrangement. If we don't sense some sort of structure, we tend to become confused. If you can't be clear, concise, and orderly, your prospect will find someone else who is.


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Direct download: Podcast_181_-_Perfect_Persuasive_Presentation.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 8:00am CDT

Paul Smith (Author) - Lead with a story and Sell with a story

 Storytelling has come of age in the business world. Today, many of the most successful companies use storytelling as a leadership tool. At Nike, all senior executives are designated "corporate storytellers." 3M banned bullet points years ago and replaced them with a process of writing "strategic narratives." Procter & Gamble hired Hollywood directors to teach its executives storytelling techniques. Some forward-thinking business schools have even added storytelling courses to their management curriculum.

 The reason for this is simple: Stories have the ability to engage an audience the way logic and bullet points alone never could. Whether you are trying to communicate a vision, sell an idea, or inspire commitment, storytelling is a powerful business tool that can mean the difference between mediocre results and phenomenal success.

 Whether in a speech or a memo, communicated to one person or a thousand, storytelling is an essential skill for success.  


Paul Smith 

Paul Smith is one of the world’s leading experts on organizational storytelling. He’s a keynote speaker, storytelling coach, and author of the books Sell with a Story, Parenting with a Story, and the bestseller Lead with a Story already in its 8th printing and available in 6 language around the world. Paul is also a former consultant at Accenture and former executive and 20-year veteran of The Procter and Gamble Company.

Direct download: Podcast_180_-_Engage_and_Persuade_with_Stories_-Paul_Smith_Interview.mp3
Category:sales -- posted at: 8:00am CDT

 Six stats on the importance of trust in influencer marketing

 “Only 22% of brands are trusted.” (Havas Media)

 That’s a frightening metric for any marketer. Without establishing trust between your brand and your audience, it’s nearly impossible to market your product or service. So marketers are faced with the difficult question of how to create and maintain trust with their audience.

 “61% of women said they won’t engage with an influencer’s sponsored content if it doesn’t feel genuine.” (Bloglovin)

 Trust and authenticity are critical for engagement in any influencer campaign. Without trust, the content that you’re hoping will build engagement won’t feel genuine and won’t resonate with your desired audience.

 Low trust equals low engagement, and a pattern of this can erode an influencer’s audience over time. While this report references women specifically, these principles are applicable across the influencer marketing sphere.

 “43% of millennials rank authenticity over content when consuming news.” (Forbes)

 According to a survey of 1,300 millennials carried out by Forbes, young people prioritise trusting a company or news site before they will look at any content it produces. As Dan Schawbel of Forbes wrote, “Millennials connect best with people over logos.”

 If trust isn’t established, millennials may not even interact with your content. An influencer can get a lot of attention, but the only attention that matters for your brand is authentic, genuine interaction that builds trust between you and the audience.

 “60% of YouTube subscribers say they would follow advice on what to buy from their favourite YouTube creator over a traditional celebrity.” (TheYouTube Generation Study)

 Celebrity spokespeople have long been considered a surefire way to build positive associations for your brand among your target audience. H&R Block wants to establish trust with their audience, so they recruit Jon Hamm to be their spokesman.

 But savvy brands are turning to influencers on YouTube and other channels who have built audiences related to a shared set of interests. These placements are more authentic, and drive more brand-relevant recommendations than the generalized appeal of celebrity spots.

 “83% of consumers trust recommendations from their peers over advertising.” (Nielsen)

 Consumers take recommendations from their peers much more favorably than the ‘recommendations’ they see in ads. They trust the opinions of their friends because they know they’re both unbiased and providing recommendations that are personalized to the individual. Influencers fit this bill nicely.

 The best influencers turn down deals that don’t have a natural fit in their feed and approach branded deals without bias. Either they already love a product and are happy to endorse it, or they agree to test the product and give an honest review or endorsement.

 If you find the right influencers whose personas fit your brand values, targeted to your area of interest, the recommendations they share are more personalized for their audiences.

 “54% of consumers believe the smaller the community, the bigger the influence.” (Technorati)

 Although influencer marketing can help you reach a larger audience, ultimately, that audience doesn’t matter if it’s not the right audience. It is more valuable to show your brand to 30K likely buyers than it is to show it off to 200K totally uninterested viewers.

 Finding influencers whose content and style perfectly match your brand, no matter their follower level, is a much smarter strategy than just getting as many eyes as possible. Influencers with smaller followings may have a more relevant, engaged and trusting audience because they haven’t “blown up” yet. Check the comment sections on a Kardashian-branded post and you’ll see what I mean.

 To build trust with your audience, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. But you do need to foster trust between your brand and the influencer — trusting them to make content that will capture your brand values while also engaging their followers in the best way.

 You can take advantage of existing marketing principles to build a playbook to engage your audience. Make use of peer recommendations from authentic influencers to drive engagement with your brand.

 Brian Zuercher is CEO & Founder of SEEN, and a contributor to Search Engine Watch.

Direct download: Podcast_179_-_New_Trust_Research_and_Interview_with_Michele_Plunkett.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 9:00am CDT

Proxemics: The Science of Space

              The anthropologist Edward T. Hall created the science of proxemics, which studies how people use, react to, configure, and occupy the space around them. We all want our own space, and we feel uncomfortable when people violate our personal territory. While it may sound overly obvious, research shows that many persuaders get too familiar, too fast. Disrespect for your audience’s personal space—especially when you are first meeting them—will definitely not build rapport. Many persuaders don’t even know that they are violating their audience’s space. They may think, for example, that by reaching out and touching their audience members on the arm, they will be seen as warm and extending. Such as gesture may really be a turnoff, though. What does it feel like? Imagine that you go to a movie theatre and there are 150 seats but only ten people watching the movie. Social custom calls for everyone to spread out. Let’s say you take your seat and the nearest person is twenty feet away. How would you feel if a stranger came and sat down right next to you in this theatre of empty seats? That would be a violation of your personal space. 

                   Understanding proxemics requires an understanding of territory and the role of dominance. The bigger office, the armrest on the airplane, the larger chair, sitting at the head of the conference table, getting into someone’s face—all these things have hidden meanings. It could be unwanted touching or jumping into a conversation that damages likeability and rapport. Be observant. How is your use of space perceived by your audience? Always err on the side of giving extra space, instead of too little. 

            Does the science of proxemics really matter? The distance you keep or don’t keep when persuading someone communicates a message. Great persuaders understand rapport and interpersonal communication, and they respect personal space. You will find that the amount of space between a person and a persuader affects the way they are able to interact with each other and what message their interaction sends. When we sit at a table or across from a desk, we each draw invisible lines of our perceived personal space. When these invisible territorial lines are violated, tension is created. We all have regions or areas where we permit others to enter or prevent others from entering. Great persuaders recognize when an invitation to enter their audience’s private zone is being extended.

            Your audience’s intimate area is not to be violated by you, the persuader. In North America, that area extends from your audience’s face out to about twenty-four inches. Most social interaction takes place between four and twelve feet of distance. This personal space preference not only varies by individual but also by culture. For example, in the Middle East or Latin America, it is reduced by almost 50 percent.37 In Germany, on the other hand, the space is larger. It is comedic to watch two people from two different cultures trying to communicate. One is violating the other’s personal space, while the other is backing up in an attempt to regain his personal space. The two are in some sort of dance to maintain and regain comfortable communication space.


Direct download: Podcast_178_-_How_Proxemics_Creates_Resistance.mp3
Category:sales -- posted at: 2:00pm CDT