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7 Psychological Tricks That Make You A More Persuasive Person

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7 Psychological Tricks That Make You A More Persuasive Person

Maybe you need to persuade a friend to go on a holiday with you, a colleague to see your point of view or get your boss to give you that promotion. You may have to close a sales deal, counsel somebody to avoid self-harming behavior or persuade someone to do you a favor. Whatever the situation, you will need to be more persuasive.

Magicians and advertisers are using hidden persuasion techniques and manipulative tricks which are rarely obvious. The only problem is that they are not so willing to reveal these so we will have to resort to more mundane hacks which are nevertheless more than effective.

Choosing your words carefully will be an enormous advantage. But body language and other tactics will help you to deliver your message or present your case much more effectively. Here are 7 tricks you should keep in mind when you want to be more persuasive.

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1. You use emotional intelligence (EQ)

Not many people realize that emotion al intelligence is the innate ability we may possess to recognize, understand and manage emotions. This is a powerful tool in persuading people to convince them that certain actions are no brainers. Martin Luther King Jr. and his speechwriter Clarence Jones knew this very well. It was a clever combination of indignation, reason, anger and hope. Just reflect on the emotions he aroused when he said that a land “sweltering with the heat of oppression” could be “transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.”

In normal situations, you will demonstrate your EQ by showing social awareness by being conscious of the emotions and feelings of the people you are dealing with. This helps you to empathize and you show that you see where they are coming from. It helps you build a rapport and a stronger bond which are essential elements in the process of persuasion.

2. You use body language effectively

Albert Mehrabian is current professor emeritus of psychology at the University of California and he has done extensive research on non verbal communication. His work shows that when words fail to convince or persuade, body language wins the day and will be the more effective way of communication. That is why it is so important to pay attention to the way we stand, sit, talk, use eye contact and how we wave our arms about!

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Imagine trying to persuade someone to vote for an issue in a referendum. You may spout a slogan with arms folded, no eye contact or mumble something unclearly. It is obvious that the person will notice your body language much more and will neither be impressed nor persuaded.

3. You prefer face to face contact

You might be tempted to use an email to make a difficult request or a phone call. But when it comes to being more persuasive, nothing beats face to face contact. Next time, take a walk down the corridor and talk to the person rather than using the phone. It is also good exercise! In politics, there are lots of studies that show that face to face contact is the most effective method of all in persuading people to vote for a candidate or cause.

4. You know the power of touch

There are lots of studies on how the power of touch can influence and persuade people whether in personal relationships or in business. We know that waiters will be tipped more if they learn the art of unobtrusive touching. There are research studies on shoppers who were touched who spent more time in the store and bought more! Time and time again, studies show that the power of touch tends to put people in a better mood and has a powerful healing effect. Touching makes people more open to requests and persuasion. While this is powerful, you need to be aware that certain cultural and religious customs might regard it as an intrusion. It is also very interesting to reflect on the fact that the healing power of touch has almost always been avoided by psychotherapists.

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5. You know the power of active listening

Persuasive people are not great talkers, they are great listeners. It works almost every time. Why? Well if you want to persuade, you must first find out how likely they are to accept your idea or request. Then, you have to find out whether there are any obstacles, objections or doubts. The most important thing of all is to be ready when you spot the openings for agreement which is when you will go for the kill and capitalize on it. Above all, you are in a stronger position when you know the other side of the argument. It pays to listen!

6. You know how fast to speak

In a fascinating study done by the University of Michigan, researchers found that the rate of speech when persuading was an important, and often, overlooked factor. Speech rates, pitch and fluency were all measured in telephone interviewers where they were trying to persuade people to take part in a survey. The optimal speed of speech was about 3.5 words per second which is moderately fast. Also, the interviewers who built in 4 or 5 pauses every minute were more successful. Speaking too quickly was perceived as being suspicious (the classic fast talker!). Speaking too slowly gives the impression of being too pedantic or less intelligent. Also, researchers found that being too lively and enthusiastic was off putting in many cases.

7. You are aware of the value of flexibility

If you are trying to persuade somebody to do something, think like you or buy from you, you are aware of the enormous benefits flexibility can bring. We can learn from young children here who have a variety of behaviors which usually help them get what they want. They can go though the usual list of crying, sulking, bargaining, pleading and even charming you before you give in and give them what they so desperately want. Parents always say “No” which is often ineffective. The lesson we can learn from this is that we need a more flexible approach as regards behaviors when we are involved in the persuasion process. Being open minded and never dogmatic will also help enormously.

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As we have seen, the art of persuasion is a fascinating area. Let us know in the comments if you have perfected the art with some examples, if you are willing to share them!

Featured photo credit: April Lewis and Carol French lead a discussion about emotional intelligence/Oregon Department of Transportation via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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