Characteristics of Persuasive Communication


persuasive communicationTo most, speaking to a crowd can be a daunting task. And while many may try to simply avoid giving speeches, it’s something that leaders simply can’t avoid.

In fact, leaders should embrace these moments and strive to deliver a great persuasive speech. They should see it as an opportunity to engage their followers.

Over the years, researchers have found several characteristics that seem to be underlying elements in persuasive communication.

Here are a few tips for honing in on your persuasive communication skills.

What is persuasive communication?

Persuasive communication is, essentially, what it sounds like. Someone who is considered to be a persuasive communicator has the ability to get people to act in a certain way.

However, due to the initial assumption that communication is verbal, the term can sometimes be a bit misleading to people.

The truth is, good verbal communication is only a very small part of the “persuasion-equation.” :-)

Persuasive communication requires credibility

Persuasive communication starts with credibility.

Researchers have long since recognized credibility to be an important critical element in the persuasive process. If an individual has a reputation for being highly credible, their attempts at being persuasive are much more likely to be successful. Many scholars agree that credibility is directly related to expertise and trust.

Remember, perception is reality; continually work on and develop your credibility.

Persuasive people are audience specific

A key tactic used in persuasive communication is to gear the message to the audience at hand.  For example, a company executive who tells employees at a manufacturing process that no jobs will be lost due to outsourcing, will gain support from those employees. The same executive will gain support when he explains to stakeholders that cost reductions will boost earnings.

Persuasive communication requires that you place yourself in your audience’s shoes and gear your message to their interests and motivations.

Persuasive communication requires you to be beneficial

A leader’s suggestions are dead on arrival unless group members are willing to act on those suggestions. So what gets people moving? Well, what would get you moving? People tend to get on board with an initiative when there is something in it for them. An IT Director selling top management on the benefits of cycling in and out computers might say “If we could incorporate a function that periodically cycles computer systems we could drastically improve the organization’s efficiency and improve the bottom line”.

In many cases, convincing group members can be done much more effectively if consensus is built over time. Rather than trying to convince everyone at once, convince only a couple people at a time.

Again, persuasive communication requires that you place yourself in your audience’s shoes.

Anecdotes can be very persuasive

Have you ever noticed that your boss tends to use stories to get across the point? More importantly, did you notice that you understood exactly what he was trying to say? People who understand persuasive communication carefully use anecdotes to persuade and reinforce group members.

Be careful not to overuse anecdotes as it could backfire and produce the opposite outcome!

Persuasive communication is data-driven

It’s fairly easy to follow the logic that arguments backed up by data are much more persuasive than arguments without data.

Data equals credibility.

The sales manager of a local paper company wanted to start a delivery service to accommodate for the organization’s many smaller customers. To test his idea, the sales manager emailed numerous clients a survey in which he discovered they were willing to pay a premium for the service.  After compiling the data and using it to back up his idea pitch, the owner approved the funding of the delivery service.

To be more persuasive, find the right balance of relying on data and relying on intuition. Being able to back your arguments with sound data will open many doors.

Great leaders are persuasive

Leaders should always communicate in a way that portrays them as being being articulate and self-confident. Phrases like “ummmm” and “you know what I’m sayin” give the impression of low self-esteem and self-confidence. Instead, use powerful, colorful words that help bring clarity to what you are trying to say.

One way to develop speaking skills is to record yourself speaking. Most smartphones have the ability to record conversations. If your caller approves, record your conversation and replay the conversation back at a later time. Take note of speakers that inspire you and compare your linguistic styles.

  • Nicki Pacius

    hello, i like your site. keep up the great work!


      Thanks Nicki :-) Will do.

  • ramon garcia

    Yeah! your site is very informative.This is a great help for those who would like to have knowledge in good communication skills like me. Thank you…


      Glad it was helpful Ramon.

  • comcast tallahassee

    Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you can do with some pics to drive the message home a bit, but other than that, this is wonderful blog. A great read. I will certainly be back.


      Thanks for the kind words. I am, indeed, a mind reader :-)

  • lien

    oh,firsly i thanks for your site
    i feel your site is really useful because it helps me can train for me persuasive skill beside i recognize the persuasive skill is very important in my life and i must try to more practice to good at its.


      Practice makes perfect.

      Good luck :-)

  • webbe

    at least yo english is straight forwad

    • Kristi Holland

      Ditto ;-)