Mastering Persuasive Communication at the Workplace

Sharmila Gautama, Founder of EnglishCoach Services

If you think only leaders and business owners need to be persuasive in their communication, it’s time to change that perception. This is the age of Millennials and Gen Z who like to work with leaders who influence than those who wield authority. Also, Millennials and Gen Z are passionate about how they communicate and have strong beliefs in their value systems! In this scenario, being persuasive in your communication becomes an important skill and not an add-on.

The 3 Cs to persuasive communication.

1.    Clarity – This sounds simple, but crystallising your thoughts clearly and logically is difficult. We speak what’s in our minds and this can be confusing to those who listen to us. Using a Mind Map to collect our thoughts for a presentation or a prepared talk ensures the focus is on clarity. Speaking extempore is a different skill altogether.

Using metaphors to bring depth to your ideas is a great way to make your audience relate to what you are saying. On the eve of voting for a new Congress President, politician Sashi Tharoor used a cricket metaphor to describe his situation. India’s love for cricket is well-known and by using this metaphor he instantly connected with his audience: “I am batting on a pitch with uneven bounce, but I have to bat on it. I just don’t want there to be any pitch tampering,” he said.

2.    Concise – This is what most of us struggle with! What was supposed to be a 30-minute presentation ran into hours.

Why is being concise important? One, the audience is impatient. If you’ve told them that your presentation is for 30 minutes, they have planned for other things after the allotted 30 minutes. You cannot eat into their time. Two, less is more. Only give your audience what they want to know. You don’t need to share the entire download. Understand your audience’s needs and benefits, find out what they already know about the topic and present the crucial bits that will help them. A little bit of homework will go a long way.

Being concise in speaking and writing means being mindful of avoiding long sentences and choosing the best words to articulate your ideas. Put your talk through the elevator pitch. Try to articulate your thoughts in the time that you ride the elevator, which is about 3 to 4 minutes. If you can do that, you have good clarity and conciseness in your talk.

Here are some tips to practice conciseness – avoid passive sentences, fillers, redundant expressions and clichés.

3.    Conviction – Knowing your audience and the content well isn’t enough. You need to have conviction when you present your idea. Have you tried what you are talking about? Can you share a success story or even the frustrations? People like to connect with personal and real stories of triumphs and failures. Personalise your talk. Connect with humour and be confident when questioned.

If someone in your team has prepared the presentation for you, go through it a few times and make it your own. Tony Robins says, “We’ve all been put to sleep by somebody who’s told us all these wonderful facts that didn’t matter because information without emotion is not retained.”

How people feel persuaded and motivated is complex and mysterious; however, by using some well-rehearsed strategies we can appeal to their preferences. Let’s read more about this in the next article.

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