Persuasion: It takes more than words

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When you try to be persuasive in writing or speaking, you probably spend a lot of time crafting the message, but you might be overlooking something that is more important than your content.

An audience often decides how it will respond to a persuasive appeal based not on the message itself but on whether the communicator is credible. Credibility, according to psychologist Dan O’Keefe, is the audience’s assessment of whether you are believable. If your audience does not view you as credible, strengthen your image by working on three things people usually consider in judging credibility.

1) Expertise – Be an expert in your field, because people are persuaded to do things when they view the communicator as an authority in the field. And it doesn’t only apply to people. Consumer Reports magazine is the leading source of trusted information when people want to buy a product. Why? Because they view it as credible.

2) Trustworthiness – Be fair, be honest, be a good listener, and be respectful of your audience. A major reason people are not persuaded to do something or to believe something is because the communicator was rude, sarcastic, condescending, or, in some other way, disrespectful.

3) Confidence. Carrying yourself with confidence is reflected in the way you dress (be a sharp dresser) and in the way you speak. Don’t use hedging language because when you hem, haw, and ramble, you don’t sound like you have control of the message (in writing or speaking), and you do not come across as being confident.

By Ken O’Quinn, Writing With Clarity

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