Take Your Influencing Skills to the Next Level

Looking for simple solutions to win over clients? There are thousands of business books that can help you design a new strategy. But if you really want to influence customers and inspire employees, take a trip to the Self-help section.

There are three books I highly recommend to help you open your mind and get to the next level of communication. The information in these books will help lay the groundwork for effective speaking skills; so you can get your message across in a way that is informative, entertaining and influential.

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Take Hold and Others Come Unstuck

This entertaining book, by American brothers Chip and Dan Heath, provides six simple steps that will help you create a powerful presentation and help your audience buy your message. Used effectively, it can turn the average pitch into a story that goes viral.

The key is making your message sticky. The Heath brothers believe a message is sticky when it grabs people’s attention in an easy to understand format that makes them want to share it with others. They use well-known, but often forgotten techniques they call – SUCCESs principles.

  1. Simplicity – Base your presentation on a single important idea that anyone can understand. Dumb down your story if it will help people remember it.
  2. Unexpected surprises – If you don’t have twists and turns, create mystery that builds until you reveal the answer. This builds anticipation and commands attention.
  3. Concrete context – Use common experiences and goals that your audience can relate to, especially with complex subjects. Think about the lowest common denominator, the same method used when strangers chat about the weather.
  4. Credibility – Convincing details and authoritative experts can give your audience a reason to believe your message.
  5. Emotions – Create empathy and stir passions that connect with your audience.
  6. Stories as simulation – Give your audience specific examples to tell people how they should act on your message.

The Heath’s book uses dozens of examples to showcase the difference between messages that take hold, and those that fall over. The successful ones all have a common trait – excellent storytelling.

Consider the urban myth about the traveler at a hotel bar that meets an attractive woman and goes back to her room for a drink. The traveler suddenly wakes up in a bathtub full of ice with tubes sticking out of his back and a sign that says “Call the doctor, we’ve harvested your kidneys.” That’s the condensed version, but everyone who has heard this story remembers it. Even though it’s not true, the story contains just enough mystery to compel people to share it with friends

Good storytelling goes back to our earliest ancestors and is still used for entertainment. Unfortunately, it is a bit foreign in the corporate world.  That is too bad, because effective storytelling techniques can help you get your message across and get your audience to take action.

The Elements Of Persuasion: Use Storytelling To Pitch Better, Sell Faster and Win More Business

Richard Maxwell and Robert Dickman combine their experience writing movie/ TV scripts and teaching executive coaching to deliver an easy methodology to persuasive speaking. This process can help you be more influential, without being overbearing.

The authors will teach you how to turn your message into a story that people will want to hear, a story that will motive the masses, and a story that will inspire them to act.

Maxwell and Dickman say that to be successful, every one of your stories must have these five basic components:

  1. Passion in the way you tell your story and deliver your message must come from within and it must be convincing.
  2. An imperfect hero that can explain the message while bringing people together for shared experiences and achieving goals.
  3. An Antagonist or obstacle that gets the audience to become emotionally committed to support the hero.
  4. A moment of awareness for the hero which clues the audience into a secret and lets the hero of the story succeed.
  5. Transformation in the hero which will teach your audience a lesson and let them know they will be happier once they also make the transformation.

This book also contains invaluable information on how to create a message that flies under the radar. It explains how you can be persuasive without your audience ever realising that they are buying into your message. Storytelling is an essential career skill for anyone in business that is looking to communicate better and get ahead.

You Need This Book To Get What It Is That You Want

That’s not my advice, that’s the actual name of the book. The authors, Mark Palmer and Scott Solder, really understand how people think, and they use this skill to help readers be more persuasive and influential. This book touches not only on negotiations in the corporate world, but in your personal life as well.

The key to understanding this book, and really getting value from it, is to keep an open mind. If you fly through it without taking time to contemplate how the ideas can really help you, then you will be missing the point.

On the surface, acting like a CEO to befriend with the head of your company doesn’t seem like great advice. But break it down: What drives a CEO? What language does a CEO use? What creates stressors for a CEO? If you learn those things, then you can learn to better communicate with a CEO and work on building a friendship.

The authors lay out a simple, step-by-step guide to increase your chances of persuading others to do what you want, by simply understanding what they really want. Here are some of the lessons:

  • Understand the other person’s world
  • Communicate on the other person’s level
  • Learn what words to use and ways to use them
  • Recognise when someone is trying to persuade you

Palmer and Solder’s work can be used like a textbook; you can read just the chapters that interest you. It is also self-referencing, with techniques and examples that make specific references to previous pages. That allows you to pick the book up as you need it, without fear of getting lost.

I found these three books helpful in teaching others to communicate more effectively in their business and personal lives. They can help you too. If you stay open to the ideas these books can help you create a more effective presentation, connect better with clients and inspire customers to take action.

When you learn their techniques and start applying their lessons, your audience will be more attentive, they will get on board with you and you will find it easier to get the right message across.

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