Research Identifies the Three Most Persuasive Strategies You Can Use in a Business Presentation and Discovers a Way to Out-Persuade Half Your Competitors

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There are 14 unique persuasion strategies used in modern business presentations. But when a national sample of business people were asked to pick the “one most persuasive”, three strategies stood far above the rest: sharing facts, offering a solution, and creating audience involvement. The big surprise: less than half of all presenters use an audience involvement strategy.

Research from the newly released McGraw-Hill book "Presentations That Change Minds" has identified the three most persuasive strategies you can use in a business presentation. When a national sample of business presenters was asked which of the basic 14 persuasive strategies they found "most persuasive," the top three by far were: "sharing facts," selected by 15.5% of presenters; "offering a solution," picked by 15.2%; and "developing audience involvement," with 14.9%.

The finding that "audience involvement" is so important has uncovered a huge opportunity for presenters. In a different part of the survey, when presenters were asked which of the 14 basic strategies they actually use, less than half, only 44.7%, said they used audience involvement activities to persuade. This means that for a majority of presenters, audience involvement "just happens" without any thought or planning.

According to author Josh Gordon, this is a huge opportunity for presenters to out-persuade at least half of their competition: "Most presenters know to focus on their presentation's content and their own performance, but there is one other major element: making the audience connection and getting them actively involved in your message."

According to Gordon, winning audience involvement happens in different ways with different audiences. For some a personal connection comes first. These audiences will need to connect with you personally before they can connect to your message. An audience with a "bottom line" orientation may connect with your message after they see it solve a problem or improve profit. Here, a problem solving exercise or demonstration can create involvement.

In addition, audience involvement can be made made through relevant entertainment, emotional appeal, graphs and charts, encouraging dialogue, giving an award, sharing a surprise, issuing a challenge, and appealing to audience member egos. All of these approaches can create involvement, but not for every audience. To maximize impact you need a plan. Gordon advises that before you meet with your audience, you should think about who they are and what could make a connection. Then, during your presentation, listen carefully for additional insight into what could get them more deeply involved.

Aside from the top three persuasive strategies mentioned above, presenters picked the remaining eleven as "most persuasive" in the following descending order: sharing a story (7.5%), building trust (7.2%), making a financial case (7%), creating excitement (5.9%), changing a perception (5.8%), inspiration (5.2%), sharing a new idea (4.4%), emotional appeal (4.3%), humor (4.1%), getting competitive (3.1%), and overcoming hostility (.5%).

"Presentations That Change Minds" is the first book to focus solely on the persuasive presentation. Each of the 14 key persuasive strategies mentioned above is covered in its own "how to" chapter in the book. Contact the author at 718-802-0488

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