The Power of Persuasion

Have you ever had your mind solidly made up only to have it changed? Have you been “talked into” activities, investments, or points of view? We have seen a lot in the media lately (especially in an election year!) trying to get us to take one side or the other. This begs the question; how does the power of persuasion impact the human experience? Furthermore, how can you harness this power within your presentations? Stanford Social Innovation Review discusses four rules of persuasion which work best when all pulled together. Let’s dive in!


The idea here is that we have all been taught the rule of reciprocation. For example, when someone sends you a Christmas card, you send one back. This can be applied with presentations in that often by simply listening to your presentation, an obligation is felt to repay–whether or not a favor has been asked. We firmly believe in asking the favor in the form of a call-to-action, to clearly direct that generous energy. If there is a mutual understanding that each others’ time is valuable, delivering a direct ask is expected, welcomed, and well-received.


Opportunities seem more valuable when they are less available. If the moment seems fleeting, it forces one to act promptly. There are many significant ways to fumble this, however finding a way to weave the need for immediacy into your pitch can be powerful. Be sure to always do this ethically in order to maintain respect and trust. A steadfast rule is that people want products and services more if you tell them before long they can’t have them. If this is true for your product, or if your product is in limited supply for any reason, make sure to highlight that fact to your audience. The power of persuasion is heavily influenced by the presence of scarcity.


Legitimate authorities help people not have to make as many decisions. This is a game changer! It is easy for someone to simply trust someone they trust to tell them what to do. Establishing yourself as the authority on your topic supports your position as a helpful ally. People want to know the facts, get down to brass tax, and make sound decisions. By establishing yourself as knowledgeable and trustworthy, the power of persuasion is much more easily accessible.


This is a big one. A pair of psychologists researching people at the racetrack discovered that just after placing bets, people are much more confident than they were immediately before. We are guided by a common tool of social influence: desiring to be consistent with what we have already done. Alternately, there is little worse than being completely sure of something or someone, only to have inconsistencies drive doubt, fear, and ultimately disengagement. Ultimately, people thrive on consistency to ease their minds and continue to engage as they see fit. By staying consistent, you will continue to service loyal followers while garnering attention of potential future clients via the power of persuasion.

Again, the ability to pull all of these principles together will yield the strongest results. Instead of trying to persuade or dissuade an audience, try a different approach. Uncover pre-existing affinities, informing people to “yes.” If your audience feels they owe it to you, the consistent authority, to act fast–then you will certainly see an uptick in interest, quality of leads and ultimately participation in your call-to-action. Still feeling like you need more to persuade your audience? What are you waiting for?

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