‘Writing to Influence’ workshops: What they loved
I’ve just finished running ‘Writing to Influence’ workshops in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne for Business Chicks. Great to see such interest in persuasive writing (500+ attendees!).
One aspect they loved was the concept of using ‘frames’ in your influence attempts.
What’s a frame?
Put simply, what you say first changes how a reader or listener perceives what you say second.
A key way you make sense of the world is through comparisons. If I tell you my widget is $5,000, you’ll immediately compare that to what you know about other widgets. You’ll think it’s either affordable or expensive based on your current knowledge; that is, compared to your frame.
But if I first frame it up by telling you we give you far more than the average widget (and I give you the specifics), you may think $5k is good value, and want to find out more.
The point is this: If you don’t apply a frame yourself, your readers will. So in your persuasive writing, do it purposefully to make it work for you. Here are four frames to consider:
Four ‘influence’ frames
1. Name frame
- Warren Buffet doesn’t call his investors investors or clients; he calls them partners, generating a sense of equality and collegiality.
- Instead of calling your new initiative at work an efficiency drive, calling it the XYZ Team Efficiency Drive may win it more support, especially from the XYZ Team.
- Job titles: Is it taking it too far to call a receptionist the Director of First Impressions, or a nightclub bouncer an Eviction Technician? Have your say in the comments below!
2. Loaded words
Words have power. Choose them carefully.
- NO: We can’t get it to you until Friday.
- YES: We can get it to you as early as Friday.
- NO: The price is $490.
- YES: Your investment will be $490.
- NO: What are your objections?
- YES: What are your areas of concern?
Some of the world’s most influential leaders have used metaphors to persuade, e.g. Martin Luther King in his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech:
‘Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.’
But you don’t have to be giving a speech to frame with metaphors:
- NO: It’s a high-quality system.
- YES: It’s the BMW of systems.
- NO: The needle will only sting a bit.
- YES: The needle will only sting like an ant bite.
4. ‘Time’ frames
Research shows that people think about their future selves differently to their present selves. For example, they’re much more likely to agree to future pain than present pain. Ever signed up to run a marathon six months in advance, then, as the date approached, wondered ‘What was I thinking?!’
Consider this when influencing others. It’s easier to get people to commit to something well in advance rather than now. ‘Buy now, pay later’ works!
Want some frame fame?
Would you like your team or company to be more influential? Would your conference benefit from a session on persuasion? Ask for my availability to present ‘Write to Influence’ for you. It’s a practical, interactive, high-energy session (2.5 hours). And Chicks dig it!
What frames do you use? Tell us in the comments below.
Now go frame someone!