An article on the power of suggestion in persuasive communication relays an important lesson for business communicators. Most of us approach persuasion as an exercise in logic and statistics. According to Don Price, we’ll get much better results if we appeal to a person’s imagination (http://searchwarp.com/swa119495.htm).
Price claims that the power in the words of politicians, sales, and marketing professionals just might be hypnotic. These folks can mesmerize us, moving us to fall in love with a product or a position by stringing words together in a way that “fires off your imagination” in a persuasive way. Is this hypnotic? You decide! Can it help your next business pitch? Absolutely!
Price compares a salesperson’s “pitch” to classical hypnosis, as follows (in italics with slight adaptions):
A Salesperson’s communication may go like this:
When you own this home you are going to love holding her in you arms, late at night, while sitting by this fireplace. You’ll create memories to last a lifetime.
Imagine coming home on a cold winter night and snuggling up in front of the warmth of this fireplace.
Classical hypnosis may go like this:
As you relax more deeply on the object you’re on, it will begin to feel like you are floating back deeply into a wonderful journey.
You’ll soon discover that your mind will readily absorb all the positive suggestions that I have given you just like a sponge absorbs water.
The structure is the same in the sales communication and classical hypnosis, but the content and verbal suggestion is quite different. All the suggestions set up expectations in the mind of the listener. Our imaginations fill in the blanks as to what the expectations are. The choice of words and the order in which you use them has the power to change how people think and influence the actions they take.
For the most part, business communicators don’t work to “fire” the imagination. We say things like, “This fireplace is an asset during cold winter nights.” There’s no trigger for the imagination, nothing to “grab” the listener’s attention. In short, there’s no persuasive power.
Competent business presentations will always contain logic and statistics. The most powerful ones, however, will also appeal to the imagination, to the deeply held values and desires of individuals and the organization. In your next formal or informal business presentation, insert the words, “Imagine this. . . !” You just might tap into some true persuasive power.