Six Principles for Persuasive Communications

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How do you get acceptance for an important message? Brent Gleeson, in TakingPoint,  identified six basic principles that apply to most of us. Heeding them will let to more persuasive communications.

  • Keep it short and simple. To accept your message, a person has to understand it and be able to share it in a variety of formats, with other people who are part of their decision-making “team”. If it’s complex, involves lots of jargon, etc. you’ve presented a major obstacle. Use success stories because people are used to sharing them! Keep it simple, direct, and flexible – so the person can expand on the parts that most resonate for her/him. 
  • Authentic.  Trust is the currency of communication. If you’re authentic in your presentation, that opens the person to deep listening; without it, there is shallow listening as the person simultaneously tries to figure out if she/can trust you.
  • Multi-channel.  A message may take on different levels of credibility, value and interest depending  how it is distributed. In a company, you can communicate the new vision in corporate newsletters emails, an intranet, staff meetings, posters, etc. The message can be delivered by one or more parties- senior leader, junior leaders or “chat”. Each carries with it a different ability to attract attention and gain recall.
  • Repetition.  The greater the number of credible and authoritative channels used to deliver the message, the more likely it will get attention and people will remember it. Advertisers have learned that today it can take seven times, before a person recognizes the presence of a new message!
  • Consistent. With a multi-channel approach, it’s possible that single message is not being delivered consistently. Each person, department may relate the message from her/his unique perspective. Therefore, crafting it to be simple increases its ability to also be delivered consistently.
  • Gathering Feedback.  To ensure that the message is being accepted as intend, gather feedback, relentlessly. It’s like the old telephone game. One person shares a message with a second. Who then passes it to third, etc.  Only by asking one of the new recipients what message they heard do you learn that it has morphed into something totally different.  Don’t be afraid to ask early and often. Too many website owners report that fundamental links that were supposed to be included somehow did not appear in the final version.

What other principles do you follow? Share them with us so we can all be more effective when communicating messages designed to help our audiences change behaviors!