People of influence, influential people, those in leadership roles, at their best, have the ability to effectively gain agreement from others.

We all want to be more convincing: to persuade others and we want to influence business leaders on how a project or task will generate a return on investment for their company. Many people seek this as a life long measure of success.

The art of persuasion is critical in any business. Successful people are extremely good at persuading others. They are good at showing the path and creating followers.

How can you be more persuasive? Here are 7 steps to on the path to get you there.

1. Go for wins!

Getting a “win” no matter how small is still a positive. Gaining agreement has an enduring effect on the people that follow you, even if only over the short term. Build a foundation for agreement with your team.

Remember, a body in motion tends to remain in motion, and that also applies to a head nodding in agreement. As we say in sales, do the chicken (the head nod).

2. Slow down when you speak.

You’ve heard of the “salesman” stereotype: In many situations, talking fast works. Most of the time however, not so much. 

I’ve heard that if your audience is likely to disagree, speak faster. If your audience is likely to agree, speak slower.

Here’s why. When your audience is inclined to disagree with you, speaking faster gives them less time to think and determine a different outcome, this gives you a better chance of persuading them.

When your audience is inclined to agree with you, speaking slowly gives them time to take in what you are saying and help them to coincide with their own thoughts. Remember, you can’t convince anyone, but they can “convince themselves” to be on the same page as you.

3. “Unprofessionalism” can make an impact.

While I don’t agree with it all them time, every once in a while just the right off-color comment or curse word may make the impact that you are looking for with your team.

If your team is under-performing for example. Tossing in an occasional f*#% bomb can actually help create urgency and demonstrates that you care. (And it never hurts when a leader lets a little frustration or anger show, too.)

Be yourself. Authenticity is persuasive. If you feel strongly enough to let out a bad word or two, do it in the name of influence.

4. Be real and know the good and the bad.

Few ideas are perfect. The people that follow you know that. They know there are other perspectives and potential outcomes, and it’s not always a win.

Make sure to meet challenges head on. Talk about the possible crap storm that your team may be considering. Discuss potential negatives and show how you will overcome those problems.

5. Focus on drawing positive conclusions.

Which of the following statements is more persuasive?

  • “Stop making so many mistakes,” or
  • “I’d like you to be more accurate.”

Or how about these?

  • “Stop feeling so crummy,” or
  • “I’d like you to feel more energetic.”

Positive statements are more persuasive. So if you’re trying to produce change, focus on the positives of that change. Tell your people what you want instead of telling them what to avoid.

6. Choose the right forum.

Say you’re wanting to sell a product and you need to convince someone that you don’t know well to purchase your product. What should you do? In my opinion, this has to start with good rapport, either over the phone or even better, try to meet in person.

As a general rule, conversations can turn into lifelong friendships. Keep in mind, that not all of our communication may come across on the phone, so when you can meet face-to-face this is best. 

Especially with women, women are “more focused on relationships,” so in-person communication tends to be more effective.

The closer your relationship, the more effective your communication will be.

7. Check your facts.

Persuasive people understand how deliver their messages, but most importantly, they embrace the fact that the message and their facts are what matters most.

So be clear, be concise, be to the point, and win the day because your data, reasoning, and conclusions are correct, they can be fact checked.

Remember, always use your persuasion skills for good, not evil. 


Leadership is influence, and if you want to be a better leader, you must be able to effectively persuade others and get them bought in WITH you, not necessarily FOR you.