Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Unpersuasive

You're going into a meeting in which you have to be persuasive.

Your first job is to avoid being unpersuasive. A major mistake is to let a passionate commitment to a particular point of view create an image of stridency. Do emotional appeals work? Sure, but the safer and more responsible approach is to combine reasonable tone with a logical position.

How is that done? There are several ways:
  • Acknowledge weak points. Credibility drops when advocates appear to argue that their side has no flaws.
  • Avoid overstatement. Puffing can be easily spotted and its use raises a question of how many other assertions lack substance.
  • Speak with one voice. All team members should be on script.
  • Use visual aids in a professional manner. Sloppy slides will imply sloppy analysis.
  • Don't be too slick. To paraphrase Spencer Tracy, it's okay to act but don't ever let them catch you doing it.

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