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A Powerful Persuasive Tool
by Stephen D. Boyd, PhD, CSP, WCPS
You believe what you do for a career is important or you would not have chosen it. Convincing the world that it has value is sometimes another matter. When you are selling yourself to a client or to a superior, one of the best ways to emphasize your assets is to use the testimony of a person or source the prospect respects.
Look for success stories related to your career which prove your service is of value. Write down the key aspects of the story or quotation, or clip the article and file it. Practice aloud how you might plug it in naturally to a typical conversation
For example, I recently read an article in the Wall Street Journal about a possible successor to Bill Marriott as CEO of Marriott International, Inc. A very real possibility is his son John. A person outside the family is being considered instead, however, and the article gives as the reason that John is a terrible public speaker. After one major speech, an observer said, “…he stumbled through the speech and left audience members talking afterward about his awkward silences.”
In casual conversation recently I have been able to show the need for public speaking skills by referring to this article. On the positive side, Jack Welch in his recent autobiography tells about the importance of his speeches to General Electric employees when he first became CEO. He would tell success stories of various divisions of the company. And then “…for the next 20 years, I used that same story-telling technique to get ideas transferred across the company.” You can imagine how often I refer to his testimony when the subject of public speaking is mentioned.
The key is always to be looking for these relevant references. When you find an example, immediately write it down or clip and file. Don’t think that you’ll remember it or find the article later because you probably won’t.
In a speech or a conversation there is not a better motivating factor than to be able to use other respected companies, people, or groups to show the need for or success of what you do for a living. This is doubly true if you are new to your career and have no success stories of your own. Borrow other people’s successes with this approach.
Your own success stories are persuasive. But telling of others who have used the type of service or skills you provide can multiply your persuasive skills.
©2012 Stephen D. Boyd, Ph.D., CSP, WCPS
About the Author
Stephen D. Boyd, Ph.D., CSP, is Emeritus Professor of speech communication at Northern Kentucky University in Highland Heights, Kentucky. He works with organizations that want to speak and listen more effectively to increase personal and professional performance. He can be reached at (859) 441-6520 or firstname.lastname@example.org.