To Lead in a Complex Economy, Develop the Power of Persuasion

December 4, 2018

Communication and persuasion skills

In the age of disruption, the skills of persuasion and communication become even more important in selling ideas and advancing careers. Carmine Gallo, president of Gallo Communications Group, explores this counterintuitive notion in a podcast with AMA’s Edgewise program.

“The role that persuasion plays in your success as a manager, as a leader, only grows more valuable as the economy grows more digital and complex,” said Gallo, whose latest book is Five Stars: The Communication Secrets to Get from Good to Great (St. Martin’s Press, 2018).

People who can explain information better, simplify ideas, and persuade others will stand out in a complex business world, Gallo said. Persuasion is key in an environment where leaders must sell ideas, attract funding, and motivate team members.

“I think in the age of artificial intelligence and automation that the ability to change hearts and minds—good old-fashioned persuasion—is the most competitive and valuable skill you can build today,” he said.

Building your communication and persuasion skills

Here are some tips shared by Gallo in the AMA podcast:

Communicate simply. Ideas need champions, and one of the best tools for selling an idea is simple language, Gallo said. He referred to the work of economist Daniel Kahneman, who states in his book Thinking, Fast and Slow that short words allow a leader to appear more competent. This means that jargon and confusing, complex language do not give listeners confidence in a leader.

Winston Churchill said that short words are the most ancient to a culture, Gallo added. They will allow you to connect with people on a deeper emotional level.

“Great leaders throughout history are great communicators because they’re good editors,” he said.

Understand narrative elements. Gallo believes the three-act storytelling structure is a great way to sell ideas because it is ingrained in the way people process information. Here’s how it works: first, describe the situation or status quo; second, introduce a conflict or a confrontation; third, provide the resolution to the conflict (your idea, product, or service).

Great persuaders are good at using analogies and metaphors to compare new ideas to the familiar, Gallo said. Keep in mind, however, that a metaphor that works in one country may not work in another.

Be yourself. Be authentic and natural when speaking before a group. “What happens, I think, to most of us is the smile wipes away from our face when we have to give a business presentation,” Gallo said. “We become very formal, very serious, no humor…. Everything becomes really dry and not the natural way that we’re wired to communicate with another human being.”

On the other hand, don’t try to be funny in a presentation if you’re not a comedian, Gallo said. Instead of going for a laugh, you might use observational or anecdotal comedy. He offered the example of Ken Robinson’s TED talk (“Do Schools Kill Creativity?”), in which Robinson makes observational, tongue-in-cheek comments.

Listen to AMA’s podcast with Carmine Gallo.

Explore the AMA Edgewise archives for podcasts of interest to you.


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No matter how compelling your vision, there is no execution without effective communication. Leaders need practical techniques to shape their messages and hone an authentic leadership voice.

About The Author

American Management Association is a world leader in professional development, advancing the skills of individuals to drive business success. AMA’s approach to improving performance combines experiential learning—“learning through doing”—with opportunities for ongoing professional growth at every step of one’s career journey. AMA supports the goals of individuals and organizations through a complete range of products and services, including seminars, Webcasts and podcasts, conferences, corporate and government solutions, business books and research.

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