Influencing and Persuasion are among the most important skills to develop. Here are ten top tips.
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Practical Persuasion

Influencing and Persuasion are among the most important skills to develop. Here are ten top tips.

Dear John,   

Ten days ago, I had the privilege to be opening speaker at the annual conference of an association of professional services firms, at the fantastic Sage Centre in Newcastle. They asked me to speak about Seven Secrets of Persuasion - a 90 minute slot and one of my most popular seminar topics. It was fun.

I selected seven topics from a long-list, in conjunction with the conference organiser, so I thought I would use this tip-sheet to give you all ten simple and effective tis for influencing and persuading your colleagues, customers, and collaborators.

Facts are never enough

Have you ever been right, known you were right, and yet still failed to persuade? If you have, then you learned there and then that being right is rarely enough, because people don't make up their minds on the facts. If they did, politicians would be out of a job. Get over the last vestiges of your professional faith that the facts will always win an argument. You need more ammo.

Attitudes matter

There are lots of winning attitudes when it comes to being influential or making a persuasive case. But the place to start is optimism, and a determination to persevere. We respect intelligent persistence, but don't get it mixed up with un-listening dogma.

People like people...

... who are like themselves. Find and emphasise points of similarity and common interests. Better still; people like people who are like they aspire to be. So present yourself as a role model to the people you want to influence.

In the groove

When you are in a groove, the easiest thing to do is to follow it. Easy influence takes people along a path where they feel comfortable. We mostly do what's expected of us, so set a reasonable expectation and the people you want to persuade will probably follow it, if it is the easiest, most well-worn path..

Don't ask - don't get

So ask. What's to lose. This was a point about personal power and motivation made by my fellow speaker in Newcastle, Paul McGee (the SUMO Guy) in an inspiring session. But it is equally a point about influence: if you don't ask, you won't get, so the questions we ask influence the outcomes we get.

Mend the pain

If you want to persuade someone, first find out what their pain, problem, challenge or desire is. Then find a way to show how your point of view mends their pain, solves their problem, addresses their chalenge, or serves their desire. Who wouldn't agree to that?.


The last tip was an example of a general principle: the WAM factor. The easiest way to persuade someone is to address their question: 'what about me?' When you serve my self interest, you are a long way on your way to persuading me. When you do so ethically and with integrity, I have no reason to disagree.

Be present

Don't try to influence someone with your mind on something else: they will know. All good persuaders know the importance of being 100 per cent present in the moment and focused on the task at hand. Demonstrate your attention with body language, eye contact and stillness.

Words matter

Impersonal, abstract and jargonish words all create a barrier to understanding. They make people feel insecure and they wonder if you are hiding behind them. 'Can I trust you?' they wonder. Use simple,plain language and explain in terms of examples and analogies. Then, people will think 'aha, I get it. That makes sense'. Job done.

Believable manner

Perhaps surprisingly, simple language creates an aura of authority. You want to sound authoritative. You want your words to carry weight... gravitas. So slow down, and pause from time to time. A rush feels like a hustle. Calm makes you seem confident... and trustworthy.


Brilliant Influence
Second Edition.

My best-selling book, Brilliant Influence, has been reprinted in a second edition, with new Brilliant Series branding. If you haven't got it already, this new edition will look great on your bookshelf and better still in your bag. It is filled with great guidance on how to be influential.

"Mike presents an excellent summary of how to influence with integrity; he skillfully raises the reader's awareness and provides pragmatic, easy to ollow steps o achieving brilliant Influence."
Julian Badcock,
Partner, Inpoint

Brilliant Time Management and Brilliant Stress Management have also been re-published in this new edition.

How to Develop Gravitas

If you liked these tips and want to boost your gravitas, so your words and ideas carry more weight.

Why not sign up to my online video training course - over one hour of content, spread over more than 20 short, incisive, single topic videos, each with clear guidance as to how you can gain more gravitas and become more influential.

"This is an invaluable aid for anyone wishing to develop their personal business skills. It is clear that Mike has a great depth of experience and speaks with great authority."
Andrew Beer, Consultant
Only £10 with this special offer link.

Pearson Business Express

I have been commissioned to write a number of titles for Pearson's eBook-exclusive 'Business Express' series of short (6,000-8,000 word) eBooks.

Five are already in print and another three are in preparation.

Two of those currently available are:

Persuasive Communication

Developing your Influencing Skills

Both are a short read, and very affordable at under £4 each.

Why not check them out?
Copyright © 2015 Mike Clayton, All rights reserved.

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