Have a great idea at work, but need others to buy-in? Need to convert a sales lead? Want to ask for a raise? Honing your persuasive skills is a must for career development and success. Being more persuasive helps you get your point across and influences others, leading to more sales conversions, more leadership opportunities, and stronger professional relationships. Follow these tips to increase your influence and improve your persuasiveness:
- Establish your credibility. Establishing yourself as credible and trustworthy starts long before you pitch your idea or give your sales pitch. By repeatedly showing that you are careful when it comes to evaluating situations and that you consider all viewpoints, you can increase your credibility with others. In addition to establishing yourself as a credible, trustworthy person, you may need to establish yourself as an expert on a topic (or at least have sufficient knowledge to advise those you are trying to persuade). Expertise comes through education and experience. You can share it by offering valuable content or information on social media, in meetings, or one-on-one conversations.
- Present evidence. Rather than simply telling someone to agree with you, show them why they should agree with you. When possible, quantify results of your idea and create images of data (like charts or graphs) that support your opinion, rather than just listing the data points. Data shows people will engage more with images than with text alone. However, you don’t always need quantitative data to support your idea. Qualitative data like stories, reviews, and personal experiences can be equally as effective as quantitative when presenting a point of view.
- Know your audience. In addition to having a well-researched argument, you should research your audience. First, determine who your audience is and how familiar they are with the subject you’re discussing. This is crucial for you to determine how much background to give on the topic in order to make your points understood. Also, understanding your audience’s needs and goals will allow you to 1) connect with them more deeply by referring to the things that are important to them and 2) allow you to incorporate your idea into their goals. By showing that you understand them and know what’s important to them, you will be more persuasive and more likely to propose a solution that is mutually beneficial.
- Prepare for objections. Knowing your audience will also allow you to anticipate any potential objections they may have. By thinking of potential objections in advance, you can address them more confidently in front of others. Consider incorporating one or two objections in your initial presentation, which shows that you empathize with the audience and have thought about potential concerns in advance.
- Have confidence. Psychologically, we view confidence as a sign of accuracy and are more likely to be persuaded by someone who is confident. Pay attention to your body language, your tone of voice, and the speed at which you’re speaking. In addition, try to eliminate any “um”s or language that makes you sound unsure, like “I’m pretty certain” or “probably.” Have confidence in your research and the prep work you have done!
Improving your persuasive skills makes you a better communicator and increases your influence. By establishing yourself as a credible decision maker and providing others with evidence-based arguments, you will be more likely to persuade others. Moreover, through getting to know your audience, their needs, and their goals, you will not only be able to anticipate their reactions and objections better (and with more confidence), but you will also strengthen your professional relationships.