Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Seven Truths... Truth #3

Exploring the third truth in Live Spark's The Seven Truths About Events (that you may not want to know).

Truth #3: The thing that convinces you isn’t necessarily the thing that convinces someone else.

Not everyone buys into the same type of argument. One of the biggest barriers in motivating audience action is that they don’t buy into your message. Some people want facts and figures, others want to see evidence that a plan has worked before, still others want to know that it’s what their peers are doing.

Your audience will be made of people that aren’t ALL convinced in the same way, so it stands to reason that a presentation has to approach persuasion from many different levels.

However, we tend to naturally want to present information in the way that convinces us personally. If numbers and pie charts are what convince me that our company initiatives are the right direction, naturally I'm going to load my presentation with so many pie charts you'd think it was PowerPoint Thanksgiving. Never mind that 3/4 of my audience may want more empirical evidence; case studies that show a successful implementation across other divisions or with other companies, etc.

So how can you turn a one-sided (or single-approach) message into something dynamic that will appeal to many?

Get the buy-in you need:

1. Acknowledge outstanding issues. When an audience is stuck on an objection, or their minds are elsewhere on an issue that isn't discussed, they cannot accept new arguments. For example, if you're talking about new company goals, but you have a huge distribution problem, people are going to be thinking, "These goals are nice and all--but how would I ever meet them with that distribution problem?" It doesn’t need to turn into a griping meeting, but briefly recognize problems and then give solutions or plans for improvement. You may then move forward.

2. Play to all persuasion styles:
  • Data evidence--This is for the numbers people. They want to see charts, facts and figures that support your point.
  • Social proof--This is for the consensus people. They want to see examples of how things have worked for other people in similar situations, or how things have worked in the past. They want case studies and stories.
  • Personal guarantees of success--This is for the certainty people. They want hard evidence that it will work, but also that it will make them successful. They want to see visions of the future where they are successful.
  • Relevance to achieving the goals--This is for the whole-picture seeking people. They want to see how a plan fits in with other elements in the company, and how it's relevant to the overall goals.

3. Don’t assume that your audience will be persuaded in the way that you are—do a reality check before a presentation. Run your argument by someone else, or filter your presentation through the lens of the four styles of persuasion. If it doesn't hit all of them in at least some way, then it's not going to be relevant to a portion of your audience.

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