Young MCA | Persuasion & Influence Event Feature

Words by Antonia Longrigg and Chloe Martin of Mott MacDonald

On Tuesday 11th February 2020, member firm Mott MacDonald hosted a Young MCA workshop around persuasion and influence. The workshop was delivered by Lee Warren; former magician, best-selling author and motivational speaker.

Lee began by outlining his framework for persuasion: ‘HAM PIE’ – Hearts and Minds; Pictures, Interest, Enthusiasm. This centres on the belief that information alone is rarely enough to persuade, and that if your point is easy to understand, it’s more likely that your audience will believe it. Lee explained that engaging your audience emotionally is an essential first step, as is including pictures, storytelling and using visual language.

This concept can be applied every day in a number of situations. Something as simple as letting your audience know at the start of a presentation the key points that you will cover and the time it will take can help to put them at ease, as it shows that you are prepared and value their time.

Other key takeaways from the workshop for expanding your influence and enhancing your persuasiveness included:

  • Build your network, make connections and speak and write about what you do
  • Always tailor your message to whoever you are trying to influence. Remember people are inherently self-centred – ‘they are not interested in you as much as they are interested in themselves!’ Even if you don’t necessarily believe this, it is a useful point to consider when tailoring your message
  • Similarly, use a value driven approach to communication. When asked what we do, we tend to speak about processes. Instead, focus on how you bring value to the world – try starting your sentence with: ‘at the heart of what I do is a simple idea…’ and then explain the value of what you do. This helps to engage people first by being simple and emotive, information and processes around what you do can follow
  • Take time to understand the problems facing others around you to help you become more persuasive. Understanding people’s problems will help you know how you can articulate your value
  • Personal branding matters. Everything that we do has small emotional effects on people, be in control of what you project
  • Being known for reciprocity contributes to being more persuasive. Understanding the value that others bring and what they do for you can help with personal persuasiveness
  • When negotiating, consider framing weaknesses by following with strengths. This is far more persuasive than a strength followed by a weakness
  • Psychology is as much an art as it is a science. What you’re giving people can be in their best interest too
  • Don’t underestimate the importance of a simple message. Credibility comes from making the complex simple in a way that’s right for the intended audience.

Two particularly interesting questions were asked about how to embody these behaviours in an authentic way. In response, Lee advised to do what comes naturally and learn your own communication style. Your way of thinking is everything.