At a recent workshop on “How to increase buy-in” (see, the delegates identified the following as the most useful tips and hints to add to their persuasion armoury:

  1. Align aims – You may have a clear vision of what you want to achieve and understand the benefits to the firm or the team. But take some time to see things from each person’s perspective – assess the impact on them and also prepare to answer the “What’s in it for me?” question. This may mean you need to “chunk up” to common goals.
  2. Plan your attack – Take some time out to think about the overall aim – be clear about the value of a compelling outcome. Then think about segmenting your people – identify the key influencers, role models, champions, sponsors and gatekeepers to get on board first and the different approaches then needed for other groups. Work out the stages of your approach.
  3. Walk in their shoes – Empathy is a key communication skill and means that you put yourself in their shoes and see things from their perspective. That way you can understand what might motivate or deter them more easily. Take a look at this blog and the related articles on emotional intelligence Spending some time in close physical proximity – working alongside them – will help you see the daily pressures on their time and attention.
  4. Gain their trust – Consider how others view you – do they like, accept and trust you? Are you perceived as credible? Have you invested time in getting to understand the people and their challenges? Do you have a strong track record in delivering results? Take a look at the Charles H Green and David Maister trustworthiness self-assessment –
  5. Assess the risks – As well as understanding the upside, you need to consider those concerns that might cause resistance. For professional people, they will be aware of the opportunity cost and also the risks – to their personal reputation, to their clients and to their teams. 
  6. Accept the sleeper effect – This is where the person remembers the message but forgets the source. This can be achieved with careful lobbying.  Ideally, they need to think it’s there idea which can be achieved with structured questioning. This links with the idea that you need to “leave your ego at the door”.
  7. Use pull rather than push communication – Telling people what to think and do will inevitably meet resistance. So use questions to identify interests and needs to that you can pull attention towards those areas.
  8. Use a hook in presentations – When presenting formally or informally, don’t get lost in the detail. Less is more. Start with a persuasive statement of what’s in it for them. Then follow with no more than three key points and ensure you use stories and evidence to support them. There is further guidance here
  9. Build on others’ ideas – Rather than knocking down people’s views and ideas with “but”, build on them by using “and”.
  10. Manage expectations – Remember to under promise and over deliver, and not the other way around. Often, the actions you are promoting will take time to generate results so prepare people in advance and maintain the momentum.