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Leadership Lessons: Principles of Persuasion

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By John Boe

Whether you are conducting a one-on-one interview, motivating your sales team or delivering a keynote address, your success as a leader is defined by your ability to persuade with clarity and passion. In fact, you might say that leadership is synonymous with effective communication. According to Harvey MacKay, author of the book “Swim With the Sharks,” “The No. 1 skill most lacking in business today is public speaking—the ability to present oneself.” If you want to stand out from the crowd, get promoted or develop an award winning sales team you need to polish your communication and persuasion skills.

Throughout history, our most admired leaders are remembered primarily for their ability to instill courage and inspire confidence. Just think how different this world might be without the calming reassurance of FDR’s fireside chats or Churchill’s defiant eloquence. President Kennedy once remarked that Winston Churchill had the ability to take the English language to war. Churchill clearly understood the power of words and said that he had the English language deep in his bones. He would spend hours at a time rewriting and rehearsing his speeches and as a result, Churchill galvanized a nation with his words.

When We Communicate Effectively, We Succeed

Whether you’re in commission sales or on a salary, your income and career advancement are directly linked to your ability to communicate and persuade. The higher you climb the corporate ladder, the more you will be called upon to speak. It doesn’t matter whether you’re an agent selling an insurance policy or a manager goal setting with your sales team, if you want to focus attention and gain consensus, paint word pictures. In her book, Knockout Presentations, communications coach Diane DiResta suggests using vivid language, “Metaphors transport the listener to a different dimension. They grab hold of the mind and stimulate the imagination. The brain thinks in pictures, not words.” Analogies, metaphors, stories and anecdotes all work together to help you create vivid word pictures to keep your listeners emotionally involved.

Communication Strategies

Psychologists tell us that we are born into one of four primary temperament styles; aggressive, expressive, passive or analytical. Each of these four styles requires a different approach and communication strategy. For example, words that would appeal to a person with the aggressive style may alienate and actually destroy rapport with the passive style and vise versa. If a leader is to influence colleagues and customers, he or she must be able to quickly and accurately recognize each of these distinct behavioral styles and adapt accordingly. During your next presentation, make an effort to identify the temperament style you are presenting to and use as many of these emotionally charged words as possible.

The aggressive, bottom line “worker style” is results oriented. They ask “what” questions. Workers value achievement and fear loss of control. When presenting to this buying style use these words:

Control – Flexibility – Work – Bottom line – Power – Challenge – Speed Money – Functional – Results – Goals – Options – Hands on – Quickly Freedom – Immediately

The expressive, emotional “talker style” is people oriented. They ask “who” questions. Talker’s value recognition and fear loss of prestige. When presenting to this buying style use these words:

Fun – Entertaining – Creative – Friendly – Simple – Incredible Exclusive – Improved – Prestige – New – Ultimate – Spontaneous Exciting – Enjoyable – Cash – Adventure

The passive, harmonious “watcher style” is service oriented. They ask “how” questions. Watchers value appreciation and fear conflict. When presenting to this buying style use these words:

Support – Service – Family – Harmony – Dependable – Caring Cooperation – Helpful – Easy – Sincere – Love – Kindness – Concern Considerate – Gentle – Relationship

The analytical, cautious “thinker style” is quality oriented. They ask “why” questions. Thinkers value accuracy and fear being viewed as incompetent. When presenting to this buying style use these words:

Safe – Scientific – Proven – Value – Learn – Guaranteed – Save Bargain – Economical – Quality – Logical – Reliable – Accurate Perfect – Security – Precise – Efficient

Magic Words and Power Phrases

Over time marketing researchers have consistently found that certain “magic words” used in phrases and combinations were so compelling that sales followed the ads just as predictably as spring follows winter. Here are some power phrases that will create interest, generate enthusiasm and motivate people to take action!

Guaranteed success – Live your dreams – Fast, easy access Unlock your potential – Accept no substitute – Time tested – Go with a winner – The results are in – Extra savings – One-stop shopping

While it might be true that some are born with a silver tongue, most people, like Churchill, have to work at developing their communication skills. A good way to improve your public speaking is to engage the services of a communications coach, attend Dale Carnegie training or join a local Toastmasters Club. Developing the ability to speak with power and influence with passion takes time and effort to master, but it will pay off in big dividends.

John Boe presents a wide variety of motivational and sales-oriented keynotes and seminar programs for sales meetings and conventions.

For more information, visit www.johnboe.com.

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