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Published on August 18, 2020

7 Powerful Persuasive Techniques to Increase Your Influence

7 Powerful Persuasive Techniques to Increase Your Influence
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When we hear about increasing our influence or using persuasive techniques, sometimes we tend to think of someone who is being manipulative, that they have a sneaky way of getting what they want by wielding some power over others. Maybe we even think about someone who is playing mind games in order to gain control of a situation or others.

The reality is that being influential helps us in many aspects of our everyday life. Since we interact and communicate with people in all areas of our life, the ability to influence is extremely beneficial. Let’s look at 7 powerful persuasive techniques to increase your influence.

What Is Influence?

Influence is the power to have an important effect on someone or something. If one person influences another person, they are changing the other person in some way. It could be the decision they are going to make about something, or they way they think about a certain topic, or a way they go about something.

It involves getting people to change their minds about a topic or subject and to act in a certain way by acknowledging their feelings and bringing them around to a similar way of thinking or seeing something. Influencing others can make just about any job or tough situation easier for everyone involved.

Really, it’s about getting several people aligned on a specific topic and moving forward in a positive manner that everyone thinks is best.

How Persuasive Techniques Help You Influence Others

The ability to bring other people around to your way of thinking without forcing them to or without coercion is incredibly beneficial. If you are a manager or leader, you need to be able to show people that you know what you are doing and motivate them to work in a productive manner.

If you are in sales, you need to be able to demonstrate that your product or service has high value. In personal relationships, the ability to influence your partner or friends to your way of thinking has a way of getting multiple people on the same page and working towards the same goal or game plan.

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The bottom line is that using persuasive techniques as a form of influence is a top way to get others to see things the same way you do and to gain buy-in to move forward. This translates very well in the workplace, but is also very important in our personal relationships.

Where Persuasive Techniques Work Best

There are many situations where influence will help you, but work and personal life are two of the main ones. Let’s see how you can use influence to your advantage.

Work

Let’s say you’re in sales. When you work in sales, your job is to sell something that your company offers. This could be a service like window cleaning or shipping, or it could be an actual product like paper towels. In any event, you can be sure you have lots of competition. Your job is to know how your product or service stacks up against the competition and sell it based on the positive aspects of said product or service.

When speaking to potential buyers, you have to be able to influence them to the point where they see that your product or service is the right solution for them and their company or customers. You, of course, must also believe it’s the best solution.

Another work example would be if you are a manager. As you work to get your team working well together on a project, you must have strong influencing skills. This comes into play as you set the direction for the project and lead the team to success.

If someone thinks something should be done a different way, we will see soon how listening and acknowledging them is critical. As you navigate your way through the project, you as the leader will be making the decisions, and it’s important to be able to show and lead others to the path of success. Influencing them along the way will prove incredibly valuable.

Personal Life

Let’s say you and your spouse have different perspectives on how much you should be saving for retirement. Your spouse says saving 3% of your income is plenty for when retirement comes around. You feel very strongly through your research and discussions with your financial advisor that you need to be saving at least 6% or 7% to reach your retirement goal. How are you going to change your spouse’s mind so they see the benefit of saving more for retirement?

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By influencing them to see things from your perspective and point of view! Of course, you both must agree on what the end result or number should look like. You will most likely need to show your spouse various charts and projections and specialist advice to see if you can get them to change their mind to match your vision.

Now, let’s take a look at 7 powerful persuasive techniques to increase your influence.

7 Powerful Persuasive Techniques to Increase Your Influence

These can be used individually or combined depending on the situation you’re facing. Use them wisely, and you’ll find you’re getting more of what you want!

1. Connect with Others

One of the easiest and quickest techniques to influencing others is to simply connect with them. Connecting means being present and responsive, spending time with them, and being a good coworker or friend or whatever the relationship entails. When we feel connected to someone, we are much more likely to listen to their advice and their point of view on things.

Compare this to someone you don’t like trying to get you to do something. Who are you most likely going to listen to and potentially be influenced by? The person you like, of course!

2. Respect the Opinion of Others

Similar to creating a connection, when you respect the opinion of others, it goes a long way towards helping you influence them when the time is right. It boils down to the need to feel understood by others.

There is almost no greater need than the need to be understood by other people. When we feel understood, we don’t feel alone; we feel like there is someone who understands how we feel. When you show someone that you respect their opinion, it makes them feel understood. It also makes them feel like their opinion is of importance to you and that you value and respect their point of view. This will earn you some serious points and is one of the most powerful persuasive techniques.

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3. Make Others Feel Important

Along the same lines as respecting someone’s opinion, it is also beneficial to make them feel important. Feeling valued and appreciated in the workplace is the number one factor in job satisfaction. It has been shown over and over that people who feel valued and important in the workplace are the most satisfied with their job, boss, and company.

If you have the ability to make someone feel important, it will definitely help you in influencing them when the need is there. I think about the times when my manager tells me I’ve done a great job on something and that my skills in XYZ are hugely beneficial to the company, and it always makes me feel great. When she then follows up with getting me involved or onboarded with a project soon after a comment like that, I am much more likely to happily agree.

4. Build Your Credibility

As you build your credibility in your area of expertise over time, you find that more and more people seek you out[1]. They respect the results and accomplishments you’ve received, and this builds  your credibility. As your credibility increases, you find yourself in situations more and more often when people seek you out for advice. In a way, they are asking to be influenced by you due to your knowledge and expertise in certain areas.

On a personal level, I have been recruiting sales talent for over a decade. Needless to say, I’ve become pretty good at it. As such, I am asked to be involved in many sales-related initiatives that aren’t even related to recruiting.

On a personal level, I have been into fitness and wellness for many years. Because of this, I have friends and family who reach out to me fairly regularly to ask my advice on a new diet plan or workout regime they are thinking about trying. This all comes down to my credibility in certain areas. We all have them, and in these areas we are able to exert influence quite regularly.

5. Reciprocity

Have you ever had someone ask you for a favor after buying you lunch or dinner? This is the power of reciprocity at work. When someone does a favor or something nice for you, it almost always triggers an overwhelming feeling of obligation that you must do something nice for them next.

From a marketing perspective, you might see this as the company throwing in something “free” or “extra” for your purchase. Because you feel like they are doing you a favor by including the “free” item, it makes you feel stronger about making the purchase.

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In relationships, this works very well when you do a favor or help someone out in some way. They then feel obligated to help you out as well. This is a powerful tool in your persuasive toolkit.

6. Scarcity

Scarcity is an influencing technique you see many times in marketing[2]. When we see things advertised like “limited time offer” or “Memorial Day Sale Only,” it creates a sense of urgency in us. We feel like we have to hurry up or miss out on this fantastic offer they are only giving us on a very limited basis. And we don’t want to miss out! They are pushing our scarcity button.

This can also be used by us as individuals as one of our persuasive techniques. If we are leading a team and we say things like “We need to be the first to market on this or else our main competitor is going to get a big advantage,” it makes us want to get to market first. We don’t want to miss out on being the number one company.

It can also be used on an individual basis. Our manager might suggest we study for and achieve an additional certification that will help us get better at some component of our job. If we don’t hurry up and get with it, we might miss out on the next promotion.

7. Give People What They Want

Finally, a great influencing technique is to give people what they want. You accomplish this by helping others see that whatever issue you are trying to influence will positively impact them.

For example, let’s say your firm has an opportunity to land a big new client you are excited about. You also know it’s going to take a huge amount of work to put the winning proposal together to land the client. A way to help influence your team to come together and work hard on that proposal is to share with them how landing this big new client could positively impact their yearly bonus or career growth. I mean, being the team that lands the biggest new deal for the year is bound to reap them praise and possibly compensation, as well as help grow their careers. You’ve shown them how working towards this goal will give them something they want. Well done!

The Bottom Line

Look at you, you’re quite the influencer now aren’t you? We’ve looked at how powerful persuasive techniques can help you increase you ability to influence others. In many ways, influencing others is really all about getting people to work together to achieve a common goal. I think we can all agree how great it feels to work together to achieve more.

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More on Persuasive Techniques

Featured photo credit: Andrew Neel via unsplash.com

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Mat Apodaca

On a mission to share about how communication in the workplace and personal relationships plays a large role in your happiness

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

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

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