Persuasion Requires Focus – May the Force be With You!

No! Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.
— Yoda, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Whether you are a Star Wars fan or not, Yoda shared some great insights in the Star War movies that will stand the test of time. When it comes to focus his quote is a gem, with persuasion it has 100% applicability to your success – do, or do not.

On the 4th May, my youngest daughter Hannah took me out for a coffee to my great surprise to the Power House Museum in Sydney to the Star Wars Exhibition.

I was impressed with the effort of the staff on arrival, receiving a cheerful, ‘May the Force be with you!’ The exhibition was fantastic. I am not an enthusiast, but I really enjoyed it.

Yoda was powerful and applied his power to his band of Jedi Knights. Yoda, demanded attention every time he spoke. He did not say a lot, but his message was powerful and persuasive.

Reflect on the last time you asked someone to support an idea that you were pushing, or a concept or to buy a product or service – how persuasive were you?

In this world of digital disruption there is a tendency to hide behind Ai, IOT and machine learning when trying to persuade people to think or act differently or make a decision. Big data is not persuasion, it is an enabler for you to have a much more meaningful conversation.

Let’s look at a scenario that takes place in every organisation around the world and why you need to be more persuasive in achieving your goals as an executive. Every year at strategic planning meetings, executives present wonderful growth targets that bear little resemblance to their markets and competitive threats. Many executives secure resources for the next financial year while postponing tough decisions about changing priorities for growth.

They are more focused on succeeding in this project using reams of data rather than being persuasive around their new revenue targets or resource allocation.

I often work with and coach executives during this process and I continue to ask the same question, at the end of the finance/budget meeting, “what do you want them to do at the end of the meeting.”

Most look at me and give a very broad response or are not really clear on the outcome required. So, we work through a very successful process contained in the book Persuading for Results.  To develop the Persuading for Results Model© we consider the four factors which influence persuasion. These are:

  1. The action desired by the presenter.

  2. The extent to which the presenter understands the needs and preferences of the audience.

  3. The structure of the message.

  4. The characteristics of the presenter: their style and their content.

Once there is clarity around the action required, then we focus on the credibility of the executive I am working with and the audience in the meeting. If she is highly regarded, then the focus is on the message. If she feels that her credibility is not well known with the C-Suite a key part of the preparation is how we can achieve this in the meeting.

Regardless of the executive, we then spend a lot of time around the structure of the message. At this point I am normally presented with a 40 – 50 slide deck for a 30 minute presentation. Information overkill is popular method, but not very persuasive. Over a number of coaching sessions, thankfully that is reduced to about 3 slides and in most cases one page that is not even presented on a data projector.

Finally, I then have the executive decide on the best balance between their style on the day and the content that they will use in the meeting. Always an interesting time and my approach is practice, practice, and more practice.

Clear communication sharpens focus and drives action.
— Dianna Booher