Plato, an Athenian philosopher during the Classical period in Ancient Greece, stated that every message should have a structure like an animal ( head, body, and feet), so must our persuasive message or argument should also follow a pattern.
There are two basic components of any persuasive message:-
- Substance, which includes arguments, facts, and content.
- The form which means a pattern of arrangement.
A confused mind resists, does not accept new ideas, views, or beliefs. If the audience or the target person is unable to follow your facts or the substance of your message – there is no clear message for them to accept.
Sometimes in a meeting, we don’t have an idea of what is going around. You have no clue where the meeting is heading towards or where it has been. When something like this happens, our mind stops working and the process of learning also stops. Confusion creates tension in mind and that is why we all hate being confused. When we create confusion as persuaders or influencers in the mind of others, we are shooting in our foot.
Therefore, it is very important to have a structure for a persuasive message.
Generating Interest: The first thing is to generate interest in the audience about the topic. Why should they listen to us? What is their pay-off? Does our message help them in any way? A message should have an answer to these questions or else the message won’t get across. A message is an attention grabber if it has an answer to these questions.
” You told me, your kitchen expenses are Rs. 25,000 monthly. You need this amount to meet your expenses. And, this means you need to have at least Rs. 50 Lacs in your bank account . Do you want to know, why?
Objective / Problem: The next step is to clearly state the objective. It means clearly defining the problem and how this problem is affecting our audience. When we do this, we tell me that the problem concerns them too.
” See there is no problem, till the time you are earning. But, God forbid, if the company decides to downsize and you are asked to leave, in such a case your family will still need those 25,000 Rs. to meet monthly expenses.”
Evidence: This step requires showing of evidence in support of our argument. Evidence helps us validate our claims. It helps us prove that our argument is right. Evidence includes examples, stories, testimonials, analogies, statistics, co-laterals, etc to amplify the honesty and congruency of our argument.
” I just want you to see this document of Mr. Mathur, who works in your office. His financial biceps are quite similar to that of yours. Running in his late 40s, he had this sense of insecurity and therefore he called me for the consultancy.”
Solution : After gaining the audience’s interest and producing the evidence in support of our argument, next step is to solve the problem. We solve their problems by providing them with a solution. How our product can solve their problem and help them achieve their goal or objective.
” I have a product which can take care of your financial security ….”
Into Action: If the audience does not know what to do, we do not call it a true persuasion. In order to solve the problem, the audience must take the action. They should move into action. The call-to-action has to be very specific and precise. This is the climax, the pinnacle of logic and emotions. The prescribed actions should be feasible. Making moving into action as easy as possible.
- Ask for specific action confidently.
- Include an end date, if appropriate.
- Repeat a key benefit.
” To avail of the discount offer, I would request you to sign the proposal form latest by tomorrow. This would mean peace of mind for you because then you don’t have to worry about your financial security.“
Using the structural approach for conveying the message increases the probability of acceptance of our messages. We all have a logical brain too and therefore there is always a need for order and arrangement. If we do not follow a structure, there are strong chances of confusing ourselves. Now, if our message is not clear, concise, and orderly, our prospect might find someone to give solutions to his problems.
Remember, while we prepare our persuasive message focus needs to be on one defined issues; and do not persuade ten different issues. Stay focused and steer clear of sensitive issues which are not in our agenda,