Developing the Persuasive Communications Competency

From Workitect’s Competency Development Guide, a 280-page resource guide for developing thirty-five competencies.

Definition: The ability to plan and deliver oral and written communications that are impactful and persuasive with their intended audiences.

  1. Identifies and presents information or data that will have a strong effect on others
  2. Selects language and examples tailored to the level and experience of the audience
  3. Selects stories, analogies, or examples to illustrate a point
  4. Creates graphics, overheads, or slides that display information clearly and with high impact
  5. Presents several different arguments in support of a position

Importance of this Competency – Persuasive Communication is important for professionals in sales and marketing. It is also important for leaders, who need to gain support for a new vision of the organization, for an operational plan, and for changes in structure and work processes. This competency is also important for anyone who needs to gain others’ support for initiatives.

General Considerations in Developing this Competency – This competency involves developing two skills. The first of these is designing and developing communications that will have a persuasive impact. This skill requires thinking about and anticipating the impact of various communication strategies. Two kinds of information can be used to achieve a persuasive impact: (1) identifying and highlighting arguments or data that are logically compelling; and (2) identifying and highlighting arguments or data that address specific interests, concerns or fears of the audience.

An excellent way to enhance your ability to design and develop persuasive communications is to work closely with someone who is skilled in this ability. Books and courses on presentation skills can also be helpful.

The second skill involved in Persuasive Communication is presentation delivery. A course in presentation skills is likely to be especially helpful, because it combines specific instruction with practice and feedback. There are also books, videos and self-study courses to develop presentation skills.

Practicing this Competency

  • Look for and take advantage of opportunities to prepare and deliver presentations. In designing a presentation, identify and highlight information that will have a persuasive impact because it is logically compelling.
  • In designing a presentation or preparing for an influence meeting, try to anticipate the interests and concerns of the audience. Before the meeting or presentation, call someone in the audience and ask what kind of information would be most helpful and what the audience will be most interested in hearing.
  • In constructing a presentation, use examples or analogies based on the experience of your audience. For example, if you are talking to manufacturing staff, you might use examples dealing with production runs.
  • Take time to find and develop interesting stories to illustrate points in a presentation.
  • Use presentation software to develop attractive, high-impact graphics for your presentation.

Obtaining Feedback – Before delivering a presentation, review the content with someone whose judgment you trust and ask for feedback and suggestions.

Ask someone to observe you delivering a presentation and to give you feedback and constructive suggestions.

Have someone videotape you delivering or rehearsing a presentation. Then view the video and note specific things you can do to improve your presentation delivery.

 Learning from Experts – Observe someone skilled in creating and delivering presentations. Note the content and organization of the presentation. What ideas could you use in your presentations? Study the person’s delivery of the presentation. Note the person’s verbal and nonverbal behavior. What does this person do that you could do in your presentations?

Coaching Suggestions for Managers – If you are coaching someone who is trying to develop this competency, you can:

  • Provide opportunities for this person to observe skilled presenters. Discuss what the person noticed in the skilled presenter’s presentations.
  • Help the person plan the organization and content of a presentation. Share the reasons underlying your thinking.
  • Observe the person deliver a presentation and provide specific, constructive feedback, both positive and negative.
  • If you are managing several persons who have opportunities to give presentations, debrief each presentation and ensure that each person receives useful, constructive feedback.
  • Provide opportunities for presentation skills training.

Sample Development Goals

By June 10, I will read How to Present Like a Pro, by Lani Arredodo, and identify a list of ideas to build into my presentation at the Western Marketing Region Meeting.

By June 5, I will have Cindy Spier videotape me rehearsing a presentation, and I will ask her to provide feedback and suggestions for improvement.

By July 10, I will learn to use Microsoft Powerpoint to prepare a sales presentation to Omega Company.

By July 25, I will complete a course on presentation skills.

Books

Artful Persuasion: How to Command Attention, Change Minds, and Influence People, by Harry Mills. New York, NY: AMACOM, 2000.

Creative Business Solutions: Persuasive Presentations: How to Get the Response You Need, by Nick Souter & John Boyle. New York, NY: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., 2007.

Effective Presentation Skills: A Practical Guide For Better Speaking, by Steve Mandel. Ontario, CA: Crisp Publications, 2000.

In The SpotLight, Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking and Performing, by Janet E. Esposito. Bridgewater, CT: John Wiley & Sons, 2009.

Persuasive Business Proposals: Writing to Win Customers, Clients, and Contracts, 3RD Edition, by Tom Sant. New York, NY: AMACOM, 2012.

Persuasive Communication, Second Edition, by James B. Stiff & Paul A. Mongeau. New York, NY: Guilford Publications, Inc., 2003.

Persuasive Writing and Speaking: Communication Fundamentals for Business, by Phyllis Wachob. Stanford, CT: Thomson Learning, 2004.

Speaking With Bold Assurance: How to Become a Persuasive Communicator, by Bert Decker & Hershael W. York. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001.

The Art of Persuasion: A Practical Guide to Improving Your Convincing Power, by Andrew Gulledge. Lincoln, NE: Universe, Inc., 2004.

The Art of Public Speaking, by Stephen Lucas. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2008.

The One-Page Proposal: How to Get Your Business Pitch onto One Persuasive Page, by Patrick G. Riley. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 2002.

The Shortcut to Persuasive Presentations, by Larry Tracy. North Charleston, SC: BookSurge, LLC, 2003.

Wooing & Winning Business: The Foolproof Formula for Making Persuasive Business Presentations, by Spring Asher & Wicke Chambres. Hoboken, NY: John Wiley & Sons, 1998.

Self Study Courses

How to Speak Persuasively. American Management Association. Tel. 800 250-5308.

External Courses

Effective Executive Speaking. Three days. American Management Association. Tel. 877 566-9441.

Expanding Your Influence: Understanding the Psychology of Persuasion. Two days. American Management Association. Tel. 877 566-9441. http://www.amanet.org/training/seminars/Expanding-Your-Influence-Understanding-the-Psychology-of-Persuasion.aspx

Getting Results Without Authority. Three days. American Management Association. Tel. 877 566-9441.

Influencing Skills. Two days. The Hayes Group International, Inc. Tel. 336 765-6764. http://www.thehayesgroupintl.com/workshops/influencing-skills/

Strategies for Developing Effective Presentation Skills. Three days. American Management Association. Tel. 877 566-9441.

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