When my class was asked to describe our greatest fear- some said spiders while some said ghosts. But when the fingers were pointed at me and the …20 Tips for Mastering the Art of Public Speaking
Repetition is persuasive. Repetition is persuasive. Yes, repetition is persuasive. Oh, did I mention repetition is persuasive?
Professional persuaders know that repeating key points helps those points to stick in the mind of the listener. This is not a new rhetorical concept. The ancient Greeks called it anaphora, which means “carrying back.”
A classic example of persuasive repetition is Winston Churchill’s defining address to the House of Commons during World War II. The UK was reeling from a humiliating defeat on the European continent, and Hitler’s troops were days away from capturing Paris. The UK needed reassurance. Churchill delivered. Before the House of Commons, he said:
“We…shall fight on the beaches,
we shall fight on the landing grounds,
we shall fight in the fields and in the streets,
we shall fight in the hills;
we shall never surrender…”
A far less eloquent use of persuasive repetition is those annoying, but hard to forget monster truck rally commercials. You know, the ones that say, “THIS SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY!”
And then there’s the Persuader-in-Chief, Donald Trump, who uses repetition to drive home his points, especially when speaking off the cuff, like here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_aLESDql1U
The upshot is this — master persuaders know that if you hear something repeated enough times, it biases you to believe that what you’ve heard is true. So, mixed in some repetition next time you’re trying to persuade someone because repetition is persuasive. Believe me, repetition is persuasive.
I recently went shopping for a new bed. After perusing the showroom for a while, I laid down on a cushy foam mattress. A few moments passed when a salesman approached and said, “It looks like you’ve already bought that.” I chuckled because I recognized the technique. Yet it was still effective because I thought, “I wonder what the delivery fee is.”
The furniture salesmen used a classic persuasion technique called thinking past the sale. As Scott Adams, a trained hypnotist, explains in his book Win Bigly, the idea is to prompt a person to imagine what happens after a decision has been made to prime that person toward making the decision. For example, when the car salesman asks whether you’d prefer the new car in red or green, he’s forcing you to think about the question of the color as if you have already decided to buy the car.
People naturally gravitate towards the future they imagine most vividly. Trained persuaders capitalize on this phenomenon by using visualizations and imaginations to bias people in the decision-making process. What’s incredible is that research by Dr. Robert Cialdini shows that persuasion is effective, even when the subject knows the techniques are being used.
I know what you’re thinking, “This is trickery!” Well, yes, sometimes that’s true. When the tools of persuasion fall into the wrong hands, they can become weapons of manipulation. But more on the ethics of persuasion to come. In the meantime, pay attention next time you’re on a salesroom floor. Chances are, a trained salesman will ask you to think past the sale. “Do you want the three-year or five-year warranty with that diamond ring?“