Persuasion is a highly desired leadership skill – but why is it so hard for so many people? I think our clients want to be persuasive but worry that they are being manipulative, abrasive or another negative quality – but why?!
If you want to be successful and effective as a leader, you’re going to have to be good at selling yourself and your ideas – basically persuading other people. Selling is a skill that everyone needs to utilize at one point or another, even if it’s advocating for yourself. Here are four improv-based ways to up your persuasion skills at work:
What does your audience want
I tap into what the audience wants a lot because it matters – look, I’ve been on both ends of a bad improv show where the performers are simply performing for themselves and not paying attention to what the audience is looking for. In this case, think about how they process information. If they need facts and figures to believe you, give it to them! If they need some kind of emotional story, tap into the feels. Focus on what they need, not what you want.
Show that you care to make them care
Apathetic performing? Not going to work – you have to be bought in, care as much as you want the audience to and give it 100%. You’re not going to get the audience – or in this case, the people that you want to persuade if you don’t care about what you’re talking about. Understand why you care and why they should care, and let that be your guide.
When we’re tapping into wants in improv, we’re always telling students to think like a toddler – keep changing tactics and don’t give up. Same with persuasion! Start with little wins and bits of progress and you’ll work your way up to getting farther and farther along – and you definitely need to change tactics if the first few don’t work. Persistence pays off.
Raise the stakes
If something can be done at any point, then what’s the point of acting now? While some folks might be inclined to agree, others need a nudge or a sense of urgency. When you create urgency, you raise the stakes – in improv, no one wants to watch something everyday and ordinary – we want to see a higher stakes moment. If you want someone to do something, create a demand and a need – and one that needs to be acted on now.