Supersuasion: The Curry and Thyme of Persuasion Techniques

Posted by on Apr 9, 2015 in Change, Presentations, Sales | 0 comments

Persuasion is a topic that most of my clients are interested in.  “How can I get my people to just get on board?” I get asked a lot.  They would love if I could teach them something called “supersuasion” and today I found a way to do just that in an article I read by Kevin Dutton in the Scientific American Mind March/April 2010, The Power to Persuade. He simplified it with an acronym “SPICE”:  Simplicity, Perceived self-interest, Incongruity, Confidence and Empathy.  So clearly he used the SPICE acronym to make it simple for us – helping us to buy in.  I’m just surprised he didn’t use a three letter acronym because he emphasized the tricolon – the magic of three, a well known speakers device:  think “I came, I saw, I conquered”.    What was fascinating was his reference to the research on predicting the complexity of a recipe and willingness to cook it by just the typeface it was printed in – easier to read signaled the minds of readers that the recipe was easier to cook, and therefore increased their likelihood of trying it, even when it had the exact same ingredients and directions as one is a fancier typeface! Self interest helps persuade us, not surprisingly.  I like things that benefit me.  But his reference to a marketing technique of an illusion of you helping me out was fascinating.  If I had a coffee shop, I’d start giving out loyalty coupons for a free cup of coffee after 6 cups with the first one already filled in before you even buy one.  You think I did something for you.  Then after your first purchase you are already one-third of the way, needing 4 more cups to get your free cup.  But if I give you a loyalty coupon where you need just 5 cups to get a free one but I don’t give you that first one until after you buy, you are only one-fifth of the way there, even though you still need 4 cups to get your free cup, and you didn’t get anything upfront except a lousy cup of coffee (well, hopefully it was good coffee).  You perceive that the first deal is more in your self-interest to follow up on! Incongruity is mostly about humor  – and the unexpected, since humor is best when you don’t see the punch line coming.  This actually fits also with the Heath brothers surprise element of making a sticky message – one people will remember – that they wrote about in their first book Made to Stick.  I loved the gimmick of making the cover look as if a piece of duck tape was across it.  It seemed incongruous on a shiny new book, and encouraged me to buy it at the bookstore! The unexpected isn’t just about humor, though.  It’s also about getting a nice surprise.  People tipped more to waiters who gave them one piece of candy with their bill, walked away, then turned...

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Introverts in an extrovert world?

Posted by on Apr 11, 2013 in Communication, Leadership, Meetings, Presentations, Self-awareness | 0 comments

The United States is one of the world’s most extrovert culture, and business is a place where it is particularly prized.  Do we lose something from that?  What if you’re an introvert in an organization where the extrovert behaviors are the benchmark? Some say that the single most important aspect of personality is where you sit on the spectrum of introversion/extroversion.  It influences career and spouse choices, how we communicate, make decisions, resolve conflict and show love.  It influences what kind of leader we become. Both ways of thinking and acting are necessary in the world and in any organization.  “A species in which everyone was General Patton would not succeed, any more than would a race in which everyone was Vincent Van Gogh,” says American educator, and musician Allen Shawn. As Leaders:  Studies on leaders and books like Good to Great have found that the charismatic, gregarious extroverted leader may not be the most successful.  Extrovert CEO’s had bigger salaries but not better corporate performance.  But those characteristics still get rated higher.  At Harvard Business School, the behaviors of extroverts are a component of the grade.  Why? Extrovert Ideal:  Susan Cain explains what she calls our value system of the Extrovert Ideal in her bestselling book Quiet  – “The omnipresent believe is that the ideal self is gregarious, alpha, and comfortable in the spotlight.  The archetypal extrovert prefers action to comtemplation, risk-taking to heed-taking, certainty to doubt.  He favors quick decisions, even at the risk of being wrong.  She works well in teams and socializes in groups.” I worked with an extrovert who loved huge events with lots of people and favored conflict in meetings because he preferred the speed and energy of the conversations.   Characteristics of Introverts:  Introverts tend to be more thoughtful, and work more slowly and intentionally. They find it easier to concentrate and focus and be less likely to multi-task.  But they are NOT hermits.  Introverts can have strong social skills, be great listeners, and clear speakers.  Introverts tend to find presentations challenging and conflict difficult.  They often dislike small talk but enjoy deep conversations, and may prefer to express themselves in writing. They are not necessarily shy, either, which is an indicator of discomfort.  A shy person in a meeting may find it exceedingly uncomfortable to speak up; an introvert may just need time to listen and formulate their thoughts before speaking up.  The result of a smaller presence in the meeting may be the same, but it’s for entirely different reasons. We see ourselves as a nation of extroverts, yet studies show that one third to one half of Americans are introverts.  It may be easy to see how introverted scientists or artists might change the world – think of Einstein and his theory of relativity or Chopin’s nocturnes.  Are there introverts that have changed the world by taking a public leadership role?  Yes!  How about Rosa Parks or Eleanor Roosevelt or Gandhi whose influence came not in spite of but because...

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Nifty Free Visionary Thinking Tool for Business, Nonprofits and Individuals

Posted by on Mar 22, 2013 in Creativity, Leadership, Leadership Priorities, Presentations, Strategic Planning | 1 comment

You’ve got to take a look at this elegantly simple Business Model Canvas.  It could help you gain clarity whether you’re creating a whole new business, a new product or service, getting your non-profit to think more like a business, or even looking for a new job.  Use it to strategize and communicate to others. Here’s what it looks like but don’t underestimate it!                                   You can download it for free at, along with enough of the supporting book to get you started.  I saw it in action when I was serving as a coach at a recent Start-Up Weekend, sponsored by the Cape Cod Chamber, where people are encouraged to create new businesses in just 54 hours.  Copies of the Business Model Canvas were provided to each group, many of whom had just met each other that weekend, and it was amazing what they accomplished. The Canvas itself is just a one page graphic tool to explore and test assumptions, covering the four main areas of a business:  customers, offer, infrastructure and financial viability.  There are actually nine blocks to complete:  Key activities, Key Partners, Key Resources, and Cost structure are on the left and make up the efficiency side of the model.  The right side blocks make up value and are Customer relationships, Customer segments, Value propositions, Channels, and Revenue streams. Watch the two minute video below for a clearer idea.  You’re encouraged to play with sticky notes so that nothing becomes set in stone too early.  It is meant to be an iterative process that allows you to work as an individual or team and explore different options in a simple but complete format. The companion book, Business Model Generation, was created by 470 practitioners from around the world.  There is a downloadable excerpt on the website that has plenty to help you understand each block or category and some interesting examples of how the tool can be widely used beyond the creation of a new business: The public sector is often challenged to implement private sector principles. I have used the Canvas to help a department view itself as a service- oriented business, establishing externalized as-is and to-be business models. It has created a whole new conversa- tion around describing and innovating the business. Mike Lachapelle, Canada I wish I had known the Canvas years ago! With a particular tough and complicated print-to-digital project within the publishing industry it would have been so helpful to show all project members in this visual way both the big picture, their (important) own roles in it and the inter-dependencies. Hours of explaining, arguing, and mis- understanding could have been saved. Jille Sol, Netherlands A close friend was looking for a new job. I used the Business Model Canvas in order to assess her personal business model. Her core competences and Value Proposition were outstanding but she failed to leverage her strategic partners...

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Powerpoint Blues

Posted by on Jun 24, 2011 in Presentations | 0 comments

Asleep at the Screen How many times have you sat at a training session, meeting or a conference, watching one slide after another, filled with words and data.  Perhaps you’ve lost track of what you were supposed to pay attention to.  You’re wondering why the speaker is reading everything on the screen.  You’re wondering when he’ll be finished.  “Just a few more slides,” he says and you breathe a sigh of relief. Remember this experience when you have to present any information, give a speech, share some data.  Do a favor to your audience and go read the book Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds.  Go to his blog of the same name. I belong to a business book group that’s part of our Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, and we read this book for our last meeting.  We all agreed we wanted to mail it to presenters we know, who, though they have a great command of their content, don’t know how to create a strong learning experience for their audience.   Wendy Northcross, the Chamber CEO, said she asked all her staff to read it. Reynolds presents the concept of the speaker as the focus – not the image on the screen.   The speaker must have the presence and the mastery of content to engage the audience, not expect them to relate to a flat screen at the front of the room. The speaker must create a connection to the audience, with the Powerpoint as a visual enhancement.   The brain best takes in that visual enhancement in the form of imagery – either a few words or a picture NOT sentences or columns of data.  As the speaker, you must know with clarity what you want your audience to know, to understand, to remember. I use this image of a race car to help people remember that resistance in an organization (like breaks in a car) can serve a very useful and healthy purpose. Reynolds suggests you use imagery to help the audience remember your main point. The brain learns through multiple channels.  If you feel they need a lot of supporting data, give it to them in a handout afterward.  (If you give it to them beforehand, they focus on the paper, not on you.) And your slides shouldn’t stand alone as a handout – otherwise, why were you there???? Nor should your slides provide you with the content – you should know that in advance. It comes down to whether you care about or respect your audience enough to think about what their experience will be like in advance, and to spend enough time preparing.  Both the book and the blog offer wonderful examples of great presentations.  Go take a...

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