A Powerful Persuasive Tool

by Stephen Boyd | June 30, 2005

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 an individual or source the person 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.

About the Author

Stephen D. Boyd, Ph.D., CSP, is Professor Emeritus of Speech Communication, College of Informatics, Northern Kentucky University, near Cincinnati. He presents keynotes and seminars to corporations and associations whose people want to speak and listen effectively. See additional articles and resources at http://www.sboyd.com. To book Steve, call 800-727-6520 or email him through his website.

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