Living Entrepreneurship Blog / Babson Entrepreneurs

The Art of Persuasion

Did you know that persuasion, defined as “a conscious attempt by one individual or group to change the attitudes, beliefs, or behavior of another individual or group of individuals through the transmission of some message“, functions on a continuum? Every message your company emits can either slightly or completely shift a customer’s opinion of your brand. Professor Andy Tollison, a Babson Speech Center advisor, visited the Summer Venture Program on Wednesday to introduce the teams to the art of persuasive presenting and advertising.

The discussion launched into Aristotle’s rhetorical triangle of persuasive strategies. The three components are pathos (audience), ethos (speaker), and logos (content). Pathos is an appeal to emotion; it uses words and images to grab attention, engaging customers and encouraging action. Ethos is centered on the credibility of the speaker; the audience will be more willing to listen and act if they trust that you don’t intend harm. The third element, logos, is the logical appeal of the message, relying on reasoning and ease of comprehension. Putting a strong emphasis on each element is the formula for a highly influential presentation.

Organizational patterns can also heighten your message’s persuasiveness. One in particular, Monroe’s Motivated Sequence, can be applied to speeches that are presented with the goal of eliciting immediate action. Five steps are involved: Grabbing the audience’s attention, establishing there is a problem, offering a solution that satisfies the need, demonstrating the solution’s benefits to the audience, and lastly, urging the audience to take action. The ASPCA frequently utilizes this sequence. Another persuasive speech pattern is the “Problem, cause, solution” method. This is an extension of the standard “Problem, solution” format. Isolating the cause allows you to demonstrate how your plan addresses the source of the problem.

Professor Tollison shared additional techniques to make your messages more compelling. Focus on presenting vivid stories rather than purely statistical information to make your ideas memorable. Anchoring, or comparing your product to another to demonstrate value or superiority, can be very effective. You should also try to incorporate memorable labels, taglines, and striking images that are congruent with your intended message. Finally, be absolutely sure that your message is clear. If it can be misinterpreted, assume that it will be. Following these simple tips can make a world of difference for your company.

It takes time to master the art of persuasion in the business world, but following Andy’s advice will help you become an expert in no time.