Six steps to persuasive communication


If we can’t persuade someone, how can we expect them to act differently?

Our content-obsessed environment can easily lead to info overload. Our goal should at least be persuasion – the basic communication goal.

Six things have to occur for a person to be persuaded by any form of communication*:

  1. Exposure: the person must see or hear the communication (many believe that’s where it starts and ends)
  2. Attention: the person must notice the communication (an obvious point)
  3. Comprehension: the person must understand the intended message or arguments of the communication (easier than it sounds – knowing your audience is a good start)
  4. Yielding: the person must respond favourably to the intended message or argument of the communication
  5. Intentions: the person must plan to act in the desired manner of the communication (call to action)
  6. Behaviour: the person must actually act in the desired manner of the communication.

Persuasive communication should be the focus of change management, leadership communication, digital communication and marketing – basically any type.  If there is a breakdown or failure in any step along the way, then there won’t be a successful communication.

One implication is to increase the odds for this to work, communicators must increase the likelihood that each step occurs. For example, the right audience/consumer is exposed to the right message at the right place and at the right time.

Digital or social marketing, especially in retail sector illustrates this is happening but unfortunately it’s not the case across the board.

Even in internal or employee communication, where we have access to a plethora of data and an easily accessible audience, rarely is there a targeted approach.

Think about the range of people in any organisation. They differ in terms of business unit, function, role, age, culture and perhaps geography etc. Organisations are set up for mass communication without taking into account the culture, team preferred way of communicating, language, interests and needs of their people.  Too much time is wasted on ‘campaigns’ that centre on ticking the channel box.  It’s about time we moved past this.

*Leading Yale social psychologist, William McGuire’s position.

Comments are closed.