Partners in Performance Blog

6 Persuasion Elements in Storytelling: Are you Using These Tactics?


Yesterday was the final ‘presentation showcase’ day for Pro Track Speakers Academy – a yearlong boot camp for emerging speakers at the  Canadian Association of Professional Speakers (CAPS). I had the privilege of evaluating the final presentations along with two of my esteemed CAPS colleagues Peri Shawn and Richard Peterson.

While we covered the gamut in our feedback critiques, the art and skill of storytelling was the prevalent theme that was woven throughout the fabric of the day. Everyone incorporated story and more than a few were masterful storytellers.

What made them masterful? Two things were at play:

  1. Content (what they said)
  2. Performance (how they delivered it)

With regard to the former, the masters knew how to structure their content and  incorporated persuasion elements intentionally.  They were like Jedi Masters.

Persuasion  tactics are consistently used by masterful presenters, not only in their stories but throughout their presentations. Chip and Dan Heath, the authors of Made to Stick, a NY Times best seller, refer to the “stickiness” of an idea or recommendation in terms of its ability to transform the way people think and act.

Persuasion elements turn dull presentations from black and white into brilliant technicolor and brings them to life.  Sadly, many sales presentations I observe fall short of these critical tactics.  Remember, we are all selling something – our products, services, ideas or requests.

6 Ways to Be Persuasive

The following ‘Convincing Elements’ are some of the core elements of structure in our presentation skills training program, UPFRONT Persuasion Through Presentation.

1)      Third party testimony (social proof that others endorse your idea or solution)

2)      Analogies (an elegant comparison of a new concept to one that is familiar)

3)      Expert testimony (a credible source that shifts the burden of proof)

4)       Evidence (factual proof and data don’t lie)

5)      Personal experiences (speaking from the heart to stir emotion and believability)

6)      Examples (a general idea becomes concrete when exemplified)

The above elements are examples of persuasion elements that make your presentation ‘sticky.’ Imagine if I had only talked about persuasion elements in this post without providing these six specific examples. It might have sounded like a nice concept but we often only ‘get it’ when we hear an example.

A key point:

Use variety and balance for your persuasion elements. Too often I see expressive sales people who rely too heavily on their beloved stories.  Conversely, I see ‘techies’ who load up their presentations with only facts/data and charts (yawn). Remember, people adopt ideas on the basis of emotion and back it up with evidence. Balance your data with story and balance your story with data.

I have a fun challenge for you. I have peppered this post with a variety of persuasion elements as a model of what I am writing about. Go back and read this post again, but this time see if you can spot the persuasion elements that I have woven in. See how many you can find. (Tip: I stopped counting at 8.)

Drop me a line with your count and your reaction to this post – I would love to hear from you.

P.S. For more tips on presentation effectiveness, click here to download my article “Ten Tips That Work For Truly Persuasive Presentations”.




This entry was posted by TanjaParsley on December 6, 2011 in Persuasion, Presentation Skills, Storytelling. Bookmark the permalink. Follow comments with the RSS feed for this post. Post a comment or leave a trackback.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *