We have often talked about the importance of communication skills for startups. While there are many personal qualities and experiences that a founder needs to become successful, communication is without a doubt one of the most important.
Moreover, while communication skills are crucial for all walks of life, startup founders urgently need the ability to convince people of non-obvious, often new and experimental things and ideas.
This is a task not to be underestimated – going in without strategy is a bad idea.
Here are a few tips that would help you succeed more often:
1. Show that you have the group interest in mind
Most people with some life experience behind them tend to immediately put up defensive barriers when sold.
To be able to convince, you have to overcome this. To do this, it is crucial to clearly demonstrate that you are not only thinking about your own interests and to build trust. How you do this is case-specific, but it’s good practice to explicitly point out the benefits for both parties: the win-win situation you’re trying to build.
If you have some sort of conflict of interest (which is often the case when you sell your products or projects), make sure you identify it from the start. This is a powerful tactic that builds confidence, which is vital if you want to arouse curiosity in people, rather than being defensive or even fearful.
2. Demonstrate consistency
A meta-analysis of 97 studies on how people who advocate for minority views exert influence, it was found that people who are perceived as particularly consistent in their views have more influence.
In a sense, this is not surprising – in a social environment, reliability and consistency are premium qualities. It’s hard to trust chaotic and unpredictable people.
There’s a downside to this, of course: sticking to your point of view, no matter what the facts show, isn’t a good idea, especially in a startup environment where you have to constantly adapt to new cues from your environment.
That said, it doesn’t mean consistency is a bad thing. However, instead of sticking to certain beliefs and opinions, it’s a good idea to stick to goals and values. If you manage to build a reputation for trustworthiness and trustworthiness, it becomes much easier to convince.
3. Get Support
The first customer, investor or follower is the hardest to get. Once you have them, however, it starts to get easier.
This is true because of a simple fact: people want social proof. They don’t want to be the first to take the risk. At the same time, once a critical mass of people have accepted an idea, the fear of missing out starts people too late to the party.
Therefore, it is best to go first to the people who are easier to convince, usually because of closely aligned interests. By persuading people as a group, rather than alone, persuasion can become much easier.
Of course, if you can get authoritative and credible allies, persuasion becomes even easier. This is perhaps the main reason why Elizabeth Holmes, founder of Theranos, was able to fool a remarkable list of investors into backing her company, even though she had no proof whatsoever that her product worked as intended.
4. Lean on objective information
Last but not least, it is difficult to argue with facts. Make sure that objective facts speak for you rather than against you. Taking the time to empirically support your views and opinions can make your arguments much stronger.
You need the logos from the ethos/pathos/logos modes or persuasion triad. In other words, after establishing your credibility and breaking down your audience’s emotional barriers, make sure you deliver a compelling logical argument.
- Start by converting the “we’re on the same team” message.
- Build a professional reputation for reliability and consistency.
- Don’t just swim against the current – seek support.
- Find empirical evidence of your arguments