By Denis Geoghegan
If you’re anything like most entrepreneurs then you have a big vision for your business. Your dream of how the world could be a better place, or how people’s lives could be improved.
The vision is what keeps you going on tough days. Those days when nothing seems to be going your way. But your vision isn’t only for your consumption. No, you need to be able to sell your vision to others.
If you want to stand out from the crowd and attract investors you’ll need to sell your vision. If you want to hire employees you’ll need to sell your vision. You’ll also need to sell yourself. In short, you need to be persuasive.
Here is the interesting thing about persuasive talks and presentations. We all know when we’ve heard a persuasive talk, and when we haven’t. But most people find it really difficult to articulate what made one of the talks persuasive.
Most people think it’s charisma or charm. Something that you’re born with. You’re either lucky and you have it. Or unlucky and you haven’t.
The good news is that persuasion can be learned. You don’t have to be born with some innate gift. By following the steps below you’ll learn how to develop your persuasion skills. Persuasion is one of the key interpersonal skills that will serve you well in both life and in your entrepreneurial journey.
The five steps you’ll need to take your persuasion skills to the next level are:
Grab People’s Attention
The very first step of persuasion is to grab attention. Imaging you are pitching to potential investors. To them, you are just one of hundreds of people who pitch to them each year and are competing for their investment.
Because of this, it’s vital you grab their attention straight away. But how? To do this you can use a dramatic fact or statistic, or ask the audience a question.
For example, suppose you’re about to launch your software product to the market and you need your team to make one big final push. You might say, “Do you realize that over 70% of new products launch before they are ready? But that you only get one chance to make a first impression?”
Show them the Need
Now that you have their attention the next step is to establish a need within your audience. The key to this step is to understand what motivates your audience.
People have positive drivers, which can be summarized as what do they want? They also have negative drivers, which can be summarized as what are they scared of?
You see this used all the time in advertisements. They are either trying to appeal to your aspiration (your want for a better life) or trying to save you money (your fear of spending unnecessary money).
Returning to our team example, we might appeal to everyone’s desire to be successful. We could do this by saying, “Do you want to be part of something successful? Do you want to wake up each morning excited to get to work? Knowing that you’re really part of something? Knowing that you’re doing meaningful work.”.
Satisfy the Need
At this point, we’ve grabbed their attention and we’ve created a need. Now it’s time to satisfy that need.
To do this you describe how the need that you have established would be satisfied if they agree with what you are proposing.
In our example, we’ve established the need that each team member wants to do something special and meaningful in their careers. To meet this need we might now say, “We are so close to getting this launch right. But to create the success that each of us craves it’s imperative that we don’t lose momentum now. That we do whatever it takes for the next two weeks to get this right. Even if it means working late or the weekend.”
Envision the Future
The next step of our five steps of persuasion is to envision the future. We do this to emphasize why what we have proposed is what they should do.
To perform this step you need to show them how their life will be improved if they agree with you. If you like you can also show them the detriment to their life should they not do as you are suggesting.
Looking again at our example, we’ve just informed the team that for the next two weeks we might need them to work late and work weekends. Now we need to show them why they want to do this. We might say, “Imagine how great it’s going to feel waking up in two weeks time to read amazing reviews of a product that you created! Imagine the spring in your step as you enjoy a weekend off. And how proud your family will be knowing what you’ve done.”
Tell Them What to Do
At this point, we’ve built up their need, satisfied it, and showed them how much better their life will be in the future if they agree with you.
All that remains is to let them know what you want them to do right now to start making this future a reality. It is this fifth and final step that puts them on the path to the future you’ve shown them.
To our team, we might say, “So, if you want to do this. If you want to be part of something. If you want to read those great reviews, then what I want you to do is to write me an email right now saying ‘I’m In!'”.
As an entrepreneur, there are many occasions when you need to be persuasive. Whether you’re pitching for investment, or simply trying to get your team to work hard for the next two weeks, it’s a great skill to have.
The five steps of grabbing attention, establishing the need, satisfying the need, envisioning the future, and saying what needs to be done now, can be used in any situation where you need to be persuasive.
With practice perhaps you too will be viewed as someone with the innate ability to persuade. A person with real charisma.
Denis Geoghegan is the founder of EPM, a website dedicated to helping professionals improve their leadership and management skills. Prior to EPM, Denis ran SportsStat (a sports statistics company) and was Head of Program Management at Nokia.