How to Persuade

Communication is a primary required skill in the fire protection/life safety industry.  Persuasion is the most powerful tool that we can have in our communications toolbox.  Persuasion plays a big role in educating our clients/community on why violations need to be corrected, showing the value of our work, and in the successful acceptance of our designs and ideas.  But, how can one be persuasive?  How can this skill be learned?

In the 1930's, Alan Monroe, a speech professor at Purdue, created an organizational pattern for creating persuasive speaking.  His pattern is referred to as, Monroe's Motivated Sequence Pattern.  By structuring your speech according to Monroe's method you are enabled to lead the audience to see and take action on the issue at hand. Monroe's motivated sequence pattern requires five steps:

  1. Attention
  2. Need
  3. Satisfaction
  4. Visualization
  5. Action
Properly employed, these five steps can lead to a persuaded audience regardless of the topic.

Attention - Gain the attention of the listener.  This attracts the listener to what you are about to say.  You want to create interest in the audience.  A typical tool to be utilized here would be story, questions, a quote, or facts.

Need - Describes the problem and demonstrates a need for change in the current situation. This details what the problem is. Proof that a problem exists can be validated to the listener by following these steps:
  • State the problem
  • Provide an example of the problem
  • Provide statistics/testimony that show the seriousness of the problem
  • Show how the listener is directly affected by the problem
SatisfactionPresents the solution, providing sufficient information and evidence to allow the listener to understand how it accomplishes the goal. This answers the question, "how will you satisfy the need?" The following five step order will accomplish this:
  • State the solution
  • Explain how the solution will work
  • Show reasoning behind your solution
  • Show successful past implementation of the solution
  • Meet and respond to any objections
Visualization - This describes the benefit, of the applied solution, to the listener. At this point you would want to bring in your visual aid to better enable your audience to see what could be if the problem was solved.

Action - Tells the listener what they must do, right now, to solve the issue. Ensure that your action steps are clear, concise, and have a clear completion timeline.

The next time you want to persuade - whether you are making a formal presentation to a large audience, presenting a new idea to your boss, or educating a client on the importance of a product - ensure success by applying the five steps of Monroe's Motivated Sequence Pattern.