The Persuasive Power of Words

You may have heard the communication study that cites words as only 7% of the message. Well, that doesn’t mean your words aren’t powerful. A good speaker and sales professional uses words to create pictures, evoke feelings, and persuade an audience.Think about it. Book authors know that the right title can make or break book sales. Harvey McKay consulted experts to come up with his winning book title, Swim with the Sharks without Getting Eaten Alive. It was a best seller.

Business owners will spend thousands of dollars on experts who can come up with the perfect name because they no the power of language.

You don’t persuade your listeners by pantomiming a message unless you’re playing charades. An audience is influenced by your words. In direct mail marketing there are certain words that will increase the response rate. Words such as free, gain, results, money, love, discover, new, guarantee are well known “selling words.”

But now there is a single word that has been identified as so persuasive that when you use this word you will gain a 50% increase in the agreement to the requests you make of others.

According to the book, Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive by Noah J. Goldstein, Steve J. Martin, and Robert B. Cialdini, that single word is….because.

In experiments of people asking to cut ahead of others in line, the person would say “Would you mind if I get in front of you because….”

In most cases people would comply with the request. Even with flimsy excuses such as “because I have to make copies,” people honored the request. Following the word because is a reason.

So whether you’re speaking one-to-one, to a large group, or to the media, don’t just ask for what you want-give a reason and use the word because.

Diane DiResta is president of DiResta Communications, Inc., a New York City consultancy serving business leaders who want to communicate with greater impact – whether face-to-face, in front of a crowd or from an electronic platform. DiResta is the author of Knockout Presentations: How to Deliver Your Message with Power, Punch, and Pizzazz, an category best-seller and widely-used text in college business communication courses. Blog:,
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