If you are presenting or speaking in public in any form it’s highly likely that persuasion is high on your agenda.

Whatever your position and role is in the workplace today you can be sure that you will be required to persuade others to understand your perspective and agree with you. Whether you are pitching to a potential client, updating your team or simply sharing the P&L you are engaged in the art of persuasion. Persuading others to buy your product, move in a new direction or trust that you know what you are talking about, the ability to convince others of your perspective is a valuable skill.

When I am in the training room or coaching on a one to one I work hard to persuade professionals to understand, believe and accept that when it comes to presenting, connecting is everything.

Dr. Robert Cialdini’s book Influence has sold over 3 million copies and has been a driving force in the field of persuasion for the last 25 years. He shares 6 powerful principles of persuasion from which I believe we can learn a great deal each time we present or speak in public.

1. Reciprocity

The principle of reciprocity suggests that people are far more likely to give back to others what they have received first.

At Mindful Presenter we believe that if you give your audience energy, enthusiasm and authenticity that is what you will receive in return. Whatever you give you are more likely to receive.

– Make eye contact and they will do the same.

– Smile and they will smile back.

– Be open with them and they will open up to you.

2. Scarcity

The principle of scarcity suggests that we want what is in short supply and are unlikely to be able to get in the future.

Most business presentations are very similar to each other in terms of approach, structure and delivery.

The same people sharing the same PowerPoint templates each month in the same way. They read slides fraught with text and data, tell their audience what they want them to know rather than what they need to know speaking in the same tone and manner as everyone else.

Imagine the impact you would have on your audience if you presented the factual information they need in a way they weren’t used to receiving.

– A clear, succinct and powerful message.

– Short, relevant and compelling stories.

– A glimpse of the real you.

3. Authority

The principle of authority suggests people follow the lead of those they consider to be experts. Knowledge, credibility and conviction are the hallmarks of authority which people are far more likely to respond to in any situation.

– Prepare and practice thoroughly. Make sure that everything you share is content rich.

– Slow down, breathe and pause. Have the courage to pause for a couple of seconds to let your message ‘land’.

– Challenge and stretch your vocal chords to speak with depth, contrast and clarity.

4. Consistency

The principle of consistency suggests people like to be true to what they have previously said or done. This is another powerful precept of high impact presenting and public speaking.

Our presentation skills training courses always begin with us presenting the importance of every audience remembering the presentation and feeling an emotional connection to the message. As a basic truth that resonates with our delegates once they subscribe to it the rest of the training focuses on how to achieve that.

– Ask your audience questions.

– Don’t talk at them, create a conversation.

– Do your homework; find out how they think.

5. Liking

The principle of liking suggests that people prefer to say yes to people that they like. In a previous article I wrote about the importance of likeability: ‘What you can’t buy from a presentation coach’ I suggested:

‘Pay exclusive attention to your audience.

Put yourself in their shoes and let them know how much you really understand them. Really know your audience in advance. Find out as much as you possibly can about them with the ultimate goal of becoming one of them but with one key difference; you have the solution to their problem.’

– Show them that you’re human.

Help them to see just how much you care and feel about the issue you are presenting.

– Smile, relax, and smile

– Don’t try too hard to be liked, just think of your audience as your friends who you are really trying to help.

6. Social proof

The principle of social proof suggests that when people are uncertain they will look carefully at the behaviours and actions of others. Often, a more effective way of persuading people to adopt our perspective is by showing them how many others have bought into the idea and how it is helping them.

– Share case studies in the form of storytelling. Stories work because that’s how we are hardwired to learn and connect with each other.

– Give them the research that supports your message. Would public speaking tips from an article which has studied 100,000 presentations persuade you? ‘7 Public Speaking Tips From Researchers Who Studied 100,000 Presentations.’

– Keep it real and be honest.

Some people tell us that their presentations have nothing to do with persuasion. They say things like I am simply there to inform, update, train or engage my audience. At Mindful Presenter we believe that there is always an element of persuasion at play, whatever you believe your primary objective is.

If you are sharing financial data from a spreadsheet you are trying to persuade your audience that your information is important, credible and valuable. If it isn’t then please don’t waste their time.

If you are training people then you are trying to persuade them to follow a new process or way of doing things.

If you are presenting an update or results you are trying to persuade your audience that you know what you are talking about, are in control or have done a good job.

Whatever you are presenting on you can be certain that at the very least you are trying to persuade your audience that what you are sharing is relevant, important and that you’re not wasting their time.

Image: Courtesy of flickr.com