The Power of Influence
The AMPLIFII™ Formula = Frame/Message/Tie-Down
Someone who wants to influence an outcome or decision first must eliminate the distractions—external or internal. In this case, the distraction was the room dynamics.
To deliver our ideas or messages, whatever they are, we first must figure out how to present them in the best possible setting or situation. That means eliminating the distractions so that others will listen and act on what we say.
This is influence, the capacity to have an effect on an outcome.
From the point of view of science and the brain, this inspiration happens when our prefrontal lobe (the executive center of the brain) connects with our limbic system, which is the home of our values.
Stories create narratives that evoke emotions we adopt as our own.
Every good sales professional knows that purchasing decisions are made with emotion and defended with logic.
“It’s not my responsibility to listen. It’s your responsibility to make me hear.”
AMPLIFII formula. It’s a three-part formula—frame (context), message (core idea), and tie-down (the meaning/action).
Look upAristotle’s rhetorical triangle.
Those three critical elements include logos (logic), pathos (emotion), and ethos (credibility).
Aristotle took his thoughts on persuasion further and included two additional, often overlooked appeals, kairos (timeliness), and telos (purpose). I believe the two latter appeals are even more important to influence and persuasion today.
Ethos is your credibility and character.
Why we build ethos. Before I became a speaker, my sales cycle—the time it takes to close a deal from start to finish—was six months to a year or longer.
When people ask what’s the biggest and most immediate business benefit of becoming a speaker, my answer is simple. It shortens the sales cycle
your audience owns your ethos; they grant you credibility. If you’re a speaker at an event, your audience will give you ethos. But if you stand on the podium and are boring and provide lousy content, the audience will take back the ethos.
Speaking to an audience, running a meeting, or leading a group is a privilege. The audience or attendees have chosen to listen to you. The moment they grant you ethos is the moment you need to give it back. That giveback manifests as humility, gratitude, preparation, customization of message, connection with the audience, and even staying around afterward to shake hands and take questions.
Pathos is the ability to reach someone else via a story, humor, or any appeal that moves that individual to connect emotionally. It’s the ability to create empathy in others. Vulnerability is truly the superpower when it comes to pathos. Your ability to share your story, your struggle and not your success, is what matters.
Customers. In today’s highly competitive business environment, developing and managing relationships with customers or potential customers is a crucial differentiator. The emotional connection—pathos—is at the core of those relationships we build that lead to the person answering your telephone call, responding to your email, or truly listening to your offer.
Logos is the logical argument, the appeal to our sense of reason, the facts and figures.
Imagine buying into the ethos of a presenter and the pathos of their story but having difficulty in understanding what they are asking you to do. You don’t know how to act and are left with emotion without purpose; energy to act but no target—no logos.
Someone who has ethos and logos but no pathos lacks the emotional connection with others. With ethos and pathos, there’s credibility and passion but no plan and no details to achieve the goal. And if someone has pathos and logos but no ethos, they lack the credibility to gain the followers to achieve the goal.
it’s about taking advantage of the perfect moment to deliver a message and delivering it in a way that’s relevant to those listening. The key word is relevant.
Kairos goes far beyond being politically correct; it’s about being relevant and timely. Using kairos well means you tailor a message to your audience based on who they are and their current needs.
Your audience. Kairos sometimes can get confusing because an audience, demographics, or geography can change the relevancy of the message. For example, someone speaking to a group of young entrepreneurs referenced The Partridge Family to make a point. The audience, of course, had no clue the presenter was talking about a fictional TV family from the mid-1970s. Many of the audience weren’t even born then.
telos is the end game, the purpose, the essential aim of a speech, a sales pitch, or a presentation. It’s the point you hope to convey to your audience.
reticular activating system (RAS).
It’s the filter that says, “Yes, listen,” or “Forget it,” and it’s guided by our previous experiences, ideas, thoughts, feelings, and the power of influence.
We have to learn to appeal to someone’s RAS to gain their attention and to influence an outcome. Stories are one way to do that.
The RAS is also very sensitive to the stress response and can shut down our logical centers when under stress.
It is impossible to manage people solely through command-and-control methods.
Sequence Is EVERYTHING
“The true measure of leadership is influence … nothing more, nothing less.”
We must accept the reality that there is a sequence to how people process information and more importantly, accept ideas.
The Three P’s: Predict, Preempt, Prevent
Stop and Think
Too often leaders and communicators fail to think through how an audience might respond to a message before they ever deliver it. Instead, they are focused on what they want to say and how they want to say it.
Next time you craft a message, take a moment to ask yourself if there is anything about that message that might trigger resistance. If there is, think about what you can you do to preempt that response to prevent it.
Leaders planning for change perceive their decisions as the next logical steps or strategic moves. But those who receive the information recognize it as something different and potentially scary—change. Many leaders forget that and are surprised when their people aren’t as excited by the plans as they are.
A good approach to soften resistance to change is the three Ps mentioned earlier. First, predict what part of the plan will face the greatest resistance and by whom. That will allow preparation for and implementation of a preemptive strategy to prevent or reduce the resistance.
Often that preemptive strategy involves as little as a few conversations with key people before announcing a change. That gives others a chance to respond to the plan or provide additional input. Getting buy-in before an announcement is a good strategy versus waiting to see how those affected respond.
Lastly, a preemptive strategy is usually best executed through a powerful story that helps the team understand the purpose for the needed changes.
The Big Mistake
The wrong sequence is one of the biggest mistakes people make when they communicate. When we’re asked a question, the tendency is to answer in the here and now with no context or framing. When that happens, the brain is forced to create its own frame of reference
Control the Message
Instead, think about trying a different sequence by sharing a more complete story and leaving little to the listener’s imagination. Instead of the time sequence of here and now, we can draw on the past and the future to answer a question; we can create context that connects with our audience. Think of the connection created by the right sequence as preparing the audience—opening their minds and piquing their interest—for the message to be delivered and then acted on.
Think of your message delivery in the same manner. Strive to connect with your audiences in the right sequence.
Most people don’t put much thought into the questions they ask.
Have you ever asked someone how they are doing and when they answered, realized it didn’t really matter?
The same thing happens with most questions in business settings. The questions and answers people really want to know are often hidden deeper in conversations and unintentionally masked by surface,
We feel an overwhelming obligation to answer questions asked of us.
I received a phone call from an executive who asked me to help her company deal with a question that kept coming up. The company was in transition, the CEO had just left, and they were worried this executive was going to leave as well. She shared that many of her staff kept asking if she was going to leave and what her plans were. She felt that by not answering them she was lying.
I asked if she knew her plan, and she said she didn’t. Then I asked if she thought that people are entitled to an answer to the questions they ask. She said she did. So I asked when was the last time she had sex. Obviously, she was shocked and immediately said she didn’t need to answer that question, which illustrated my point. Just because I asked a question, doesn’t mean I am entitled to an answer.
So we crafted an honest answer that refocused the conversation on what mattered most—the business. The new response:
“John (the name of whoever asks the question), the company is in a lot of transition, and I honestly don’t know what I am going to do. But I do know this. The company needs both of us to focus on the business right now. What do you need from me to help you stay focused?”
The person asking the questions is in control.
Questions are powerful because they set the frame of the conversation. By setting the frame, you control the direction of the conversation, which can be advantageous. By throwing out a topic and leading the listener to reply to your views, you get complete control over the conversation.
Most professionals know this intellectually but still get caught up in answering questions that don’t set them up in a strong strategic position.
To sum up, the result is that we humans feel compelled to answer questions that people put little thought into and that give them control of the narrative. The moment someone asks the price, the rate, or the commission before you’ve had a chance to communicate value, it’s over.
If you’re presenting a budget or a plan that has complexities, and people ask you to “get to the bottom line,” you run the risk of not fully communicating the value proposition in the right context.
The brain has two primary functions. First, it protects us from the threat of death so we can continue to live and procreate. Second, the brain makes sense of all the sensory inputs we receive. But even those functions have a sequence.
nerve signals, not hormonal signals triggered by emotions. All this happens before we are even consciously aware that anything happened or might happen.
Our messages must be structured in a sequence that aligns with this biological and neurological reality; otherwise, we have no chance of our messages being heard.
That’s important because your brain interprets the threat of change, new ideas, the sale of a company, a verbal attack, and so much more in the same way it interprets a physical threat. Put another way, your message or attempt to influence has the ability to trigger the fight/flight/freeze response in your audience.
Four Steps to Influence
Our brain shuts down to new ideas under stress.
Step 1: Am I Safe?
As mentioned earlier, the first job of the brain is to keep us alive, which is why the amygdala constantly searches for threats.
The hypothalamus is the area of the brain that oversees our autonomic functions such as breathing, digestion, and fear—flight/fight/freeze aspect of humans. There’s no logic, reason, or understanding involved.
When it comes to our audiences, we can encourage the feeling of psychological safety by making people feel comfortable voicing their opinions without fear of being judged.
For a leader, psychological safety also could mean ensuring that a team is part of the decision-making process by listening to the team’s needs and tailoring the message with those needs in mind.
The best way to create safety is to establish structure, order, and predictability. Agendas in meetings, rituals, standard practices, handshakes, and consistency are all examples of things that create a feeling of safety.
Step 2: Do You Care About Me?
After someone feels safe, the next step is to ensure they feel valued. The absence of feeling valued creates more stress, which leads to the cortical inhibition we want to avoid. The limbic system controls our emotions and our memory as well as our values. All of us have met a person and immediately forgotten their name. That likely is because your limbic system wasn’t fully engaged and was still at some level assessing the safety of the situation.
The limbic system is a very small part of the brain, but when engaged in making decisions, it has 35,000 times more neurons firing than the part of our brain that handles logic.
That’s why branding firms focus so heavily on eliciting emotions and values. And that’s why political campaigns trigger anger and hate because all those neurons can move people to lose sight of logic and vote a certain way.
The limbic system is an open-loop system—it is affected by outside influences. A smile from someone has an impact on us, and so does the sight of a puppy or the right words at the right time. This is the part of the brain that allows us to connect to our audiences and is essential to influence.
This also is the part of the brain that asks, “Do you care about or value me?” It’s the part of the brain that is primed for relationship and rapport building. It actually buys your product. The challenge is that since this part of the brain makes decisions based on emotion, when the emotion wears off, it needs logic to reinforce the decision. If there is no logic, then we find ourselves in buyer’s remorse.
Step 3: Is This Engaging?
Now that we have our audience’s attention, we need to keep it by not being boring. We do that by fluctuating between stimuli and novelty. And that means more brain science. The cerebral cortex is the brain’s center for learning, logic, and language. It is the target area for problem solving and creativity. This part of the brain loves data, the search for truth, language, problem solving, value propositions, new ideas, and innovation.
Novelty triggers dopamine, and tension triggers norepinephrine, the two neurotransmitters needed to capture attention. This is where many people lost their audiences during the pandemic and virtual meetings. The presenters were boring talking heads that never moved. TV shows and movies use novelty and tension to keep our attention and also get us to return the next week.
In a business setting, the use of visuals, colors, video, powerful music, dynamic voice inflection, and body movement all contribute to making things more engaging. The goal is to keep the audience’s attention.
Step 4: Is This Inspiring?
The final step is to engage the brain’s prefrontal lobe to align future actions with personal values.
The prefrontal cortex is the CEO or the executive center of the brain, and so it determines future actions. Another way to think about it is as a future simulator. It is the last part of the brain to develop—usually not fully until age 25. This part of the brain constantly creates scenarios and looks to the future.
Especially fascinating about the prefrontal lobe is how it connects to the limbic system when trying to decide your next move. That connection determines if the move is aligned with your values. If it’s aligned, you act; if not, you don’t. That’s yet another important reason to connect with your audience and appeal to their personal values.
In most cases starting with the message and value proposition doesn’t work, either. Remember, structure, order, and predictability create safety and security.
On the other hand, if the pitch is to raise money from venture capitalists, the sequence follows an expected protocol—the numbers first and story second.
formed somewhere between the ages of 9 and 13 and are pretty much locked in by age 21.
Self-Awareness and Discovery
The No. 1 skill of a leader is self-awareness.
when there is a disconnect, a leader cannot connect with their teams or a speaker cannot connect with their audiences. For example, a speaker gives trite advice from a stage such as, “Just move on” or “Get over it,” and the audience cheers.
Often, the speaker doesn’t take into account that not everyone has the same ability to overcome or simply move on from adversity.
Warning: Self-Awareness Is Rare
Only 10 to 15 percent of people who say they are self-aware really are,
What makes achieving true self-awareness even more difficult is that Eurich’s research also found that experience and power hinder our self-awareness. So the smarter you are and the more successful you become, the more difficult self-awareness can be.
Pay attention to repeated feedback from others; it’s a sign to heed. Pay particular attention to the feedback if it makes you feel defensive. That feedback could be closer to a truth you’re unwilling to face.
It requires a conscious and ongoing effort. We all have our lapses in learning.
As leaders, people are watching us whether we like it or not. We have to AMPLIFII our level of self-awareness to include body language, facial expressions, and the behavior of actually speaking up. A diamond in the rough like Olivia can’t influence anyone by staying in the corner. She has to come out and get in the game.
But beware, practice does not make perfect.
Practice makes consistent.
Perfect practice makes perfect.
I am a big fan of The Five-Minute Journal (https://www.intelligentchange.com).
Pay Attention to External Triggers
Keep a list of external factors that make you feel happy, sad, defensive, attracted, intrigued, fearful, and anything else positive or negative. Identify the triggers or indicators—negative and positive—of each.
When you allow feedback in, your empathy grows and you understand your impact on others. Feedback helps you identify personal blind spots, which if not addressed, can hinder your ability to influence.
Mindfulness or meditation, practiced for even 10 minutes a day, has been shown to increase focus and enable people to pay better attention to what is happening in the moment. This brain training also helps leaders become better listeners by allowing them to eliminate distractions.
Frames: Window into Your World
“You are either adding to or subtracting from your influence. There is no middle ground.”
In communication, either the speaker provides the frame or the listener will provide one subconsciously.
Most miscommunication happens because we answer in the here and now and without any context. When we assume that our listener operates from our same frames of reference, we risk being completely misunderstood.
Either you provide the frame or your audience will provide one for you. Don’t risk it; claim it.
This ability to listen for other people’s values is critical in leadership. Too often people listen from their own world and not that of their audience.
Stories Trigger Oxytocin
We need the third and final piece of the AMPLIFII formula, the tie-down—where the value is created with a clear influence objective in mind.
The tie-down finishes the statement, “What this means to you is … .” It connects the dots of why this story is of value to the listener. It ensures that the listener doesn’t assume incorrectly the moral or lesson of the story. It protects you from being misunderstood and makes the value you are delivering explicit and obvious. Never assume they see the value, tie it down.
Even though a tie-down sometimes is action-based, it’s not necessarily a call to action. The tie-down is about clearly ensuring the value to the listener.
Janice’s full answer to the initial question using the AMPLIFII formula—frame, message, tie-down—looks like this:
FRAME: “Unfortunately, growing up I was surrounded by adults who told me I wasn’t very smart. When adults tell you that as a child, you begin to believe it, and I had a hard time in school. But something happened in my senior year in high school. I looked at myself in the mirror and said, ‘I’m either going to believe them forever or I’m going to do something about it and prove them wrong.’ I decided I was going to do something about it. And I did.”
MESSAGE: “I got straight A’s my senior year.”
TIE-DOWN: “I share that story with you because, if I do get the opportunity to work with you and your team, there will be times when we will be under pressure with our backs against the wall or facing seemingly insurmountable challenges. I promise you this: I’ll be right out there working next to you as hard as I can to overcome the challenges in the same way I overcame challenges in my own personal life, but this time for you and your team.”
Psychological Frame of Reference
A psychological frame is someone’s frame of mind when they enter a situation, whether a sales presentation, classroom, training session, or first encounter.
Three factors figure into determining someone’s perception:
Physical and emotional needs.
Our past experience is a powerful influence on our perception. Bad experiences prime us to anticipate and interpret a similar experience in a negative light.
in the absence of a frame of reference from personal experience with a topic, person, or idea, an individual is open to being influenced by whoever provides the most compelling frame.
The Framing Battle
Everyone has an agenda, whether implicit or explicit. Businesses have products to sell.
The battle for attention, influence, and even financial resources is really a matter of whose frame is perceived as the most credible, compelling, and valuable. Because framing is a collection of concepts, metaphors, and theoretical references that together help us understand reality, story becomes a powerful device to control the narrative. But there are many other framing devices, too, including props, quotes, jokes, statistics, and even music.
I say this repeatedly because it’s so important. If we don’t frame things for our audience, our audience must build their own construct for understanding what’s being said. The frame you present draws the audience in—grabs their attention—and can help them understand better the meaning of what you, the communicator/influencer, are attempting to convey.
Frame the Data
Don’t just push out the data; help the audience understand the data and the message and why it has value for them.
Your price is data. So is your interest rate or your value proposition. Let’s say you’re in banking and finance and a potential client asks the question, “What’s the interest rate?” If you answer the question simply by stating the rate, the conversation is over. The potential client adds their own frame of reference—by comparing your rate with others they have collected. Who knows where your rate falls among other bank and finance companies.
Are you asking me for a “quoted rate” or a “locked rate?” There is a big difference. A quoted rate is what the rate is today, and I can offer you basically the same rate as everyone else. There aren’t many differentiators in this industry when it comes to rate.
Rates change daily and sometimes hourly, so by the time we get to locking in your rate, it will be different from what it is today. I want to be sure I can fulfill the promise I make to you. That’s what’s most important to me.
As I mentioned, a “locked” rate is the one that will be on your mortgage and determines your payment. For us to get to that rate, we need to answer a few questions, check your credit, and ensure we choose a loan program that fits your financial goals.
May I ask you a few questions?
don’t forget that everything in the script is 100 percent true. Proper framing should help customers better understand what they are buying by simplifying the complexities involved.
Address Fear through Frames
As we discussed earlier, the sequence of your presentation matters. Think in terms of the three Ps—predict, preempt, prevent. Often the tendency is for the presenter to ignore the fear of their audience.
Before ever delivering the message, address the fear, preempt the risks before they come up in thought or discussion. Reframe the negative and take a deeper look.
The best communicators and leaders don’t ignore the risks or negative information. They prepare their audiences for them, and they address them head on so they can move past them.
If someone learns about you from an article you wrote, a speech you presented, or even the mention of your name in a video or online, those frames contribute to solidifying your ethos.
Conversely, if you’ve been recently disparaged on social media or became overly intoxicated at a company gathering, that hurts your ethos and sets you up in a negative frame.
Your Origin Story
A very powerful framing device is your origin story. It answers two big questions—how you arrived at where you are today and why you love serving the customers you serve. This is the frame that draws in your audience, creates credibility, and builds trust. It does not, however, build influence. That comes later.
The origin story—the frame—sets the context for you to deliver your value proposition or core message.
Using the three Ps—predict, preempt, prevent—we can predict that price will come up as a question or objection at some point unless the seller “claims the frame” and preempts or prevents that response. The influence objective is to shift the frame and conversation away from price and over to quality.
Shift From Cost to Quality
Application in Business
The final stages of consumer product purchasing involve two categories. The first is the moment of purchase when the consumer thinks about the importance of the lowest cost and saving money. It’s momentary and passes quickly.
The second category is known as time of performance and is more long-lasting.
Our job as sales professionals, communicators, and leaders is to help people move beyond that short-term moment of purchase thinking into a broader view. Most of the solutions people offer require a “time of performance” mindset to comprehend the value proposition.
Clients try to frame or reframe sales professionals all the time. The attempt at reframing usually comes in the form of slow response times to messages—indicating a lack of interest—or comments that someone else can do the same thing cheaper, faster, and easier. The sales professional needs to be able to assess when this happens to avoid the abyss of price reductions, discounts, and concessions.
A well-thought-out and well-constructed frame is a strategic advantage in the marketplace and can pay off handsomely in the long run. In this battle of whose frame will win, a sales professional should be able to understand the viewpoint of their potential client. But the professional also must have a strong belief in their value and be able to communicate it with conviction through metaphor, story, props, and examples.
The conversation with a potential mortgagee might start something like this:
I’m so excited that we get to work together. I know you have plenty of options on who to work with, and it means a lot to us that you are here.
Before we get started, I know there is a lot of confusion in the marketplace right now and, for some people, fear. The media is having a field day with misinformation, and it’s crazy to see how many people buy into it.
Unfortunately, the media is not a public service organization. So let’s look a little deeper.
Many people out there are making money in real estate right now. There are great opportunities to buy real estate if it’s done properly and you have the right tools and information.
Let me show you what your financial future could look like in five to ten years if you decide to buy this home …
the influencer predicted the fear in the market, then preempted and prevented it with a frame from history and the media, and revealed the statistics showing that real estate done properly can be profitable. A true pro would then close the deal with logos (logic) by showing the charts and graphs to build psychological safety (structure, order, and predictability).
lesson. It’s frame, message, tie-down—the AMPLIFII formula.
Your task is to create a viable and complete story arc that makes sense.
Messages, Concepts, and Value Propositions
Most people don’t put much thought into the message they are trying to communicate. They just talk, assuming the audience will figure it out.
A good message is clear enough for the listener to understand the actions expected of them. The goal is to eliminate as much as possible the need for any assumptions.
Key messages are the main points of information someone wants their audience to hear, understand, and remember. These are consumable summaries that communicate what you do, why you do it, how you are different, and what value you bring to the table. Key messages clarify meaning and make it easy to remember what you said because it was simple.
Key messages allow for personal expression and creativity in delivery, which promotes authentic communications.
Tips to Create Effective Messages
Split Messages by Topic
A goal could be three to five messages per area of focus. That way the messages are easy to remember, and a design and social media team can easily stay on message.
Focus on Value
The message should illustrate the differentiated value to the intended customer. The more focused and niched the message, the better. Niche messages have more impact and better conversion rates.
Focus on Action
The message should compel an audience to act, so be clear on simple action steps. Anything too complex creates friction, and friction kills conversion.
Keep It Simple
Don’t make an audience do any extra thinking. Value should be immediately apparent and memorable. If an audience has to calculate or derive value, then rework the message until it is immediately obvious. This is not as easy as it sounds, but it’s worth the effort.
Tailor Your Message
When possible, adjust the message to meet the specific needs of a customer. Anytime we can customize for a customer, we do. In today’s noisy world, an ounce of customization goes a long way.
Messages should persuade. Effective messages provide information necessary to persuade while allowing for collaboration with the target audience. If done correctly, the message is tailored to the specific needs and aptitude of the audience focusing on what is most important and valuable to them.
Choose the right channel. A common mistake is having a great message but delivering it via the wrong channel—sending an email during a heated discussion when you should make a phone call or leaving a voicemail that may never get checked when a text message would likely be read within minutes.
Be accurate and thorough. I was working with a CEO notorious for responding to emails with short, vague, nonactionable cliches such as “Rock on,” “You’re a rockstar,” and “Boom!” His favorite response was, “You knocked it out of the park!”
As frustrating as his responses were, his intent was to motivate and praise. Unfortunately, he was perceived as lazy in his communication, and he frustrated his people and created confusion, bottlenecks, and uncertainty.
A Closer Look
For purposes of the AMPLIFII formula, a message is verbal, written, or recorded communication that a listener needs to hear and understand from the presenter’s unique perspective. The essential here is unique perspective.
Messages delivered without a frame risk being misinterpreted because they will be heard through the perspective of the listener.
Poorly communicated value propositions lose sales and kill margins by forcing companies into the price-matching game.
Miscommunication results in employee disengagement, lack of productivity, and talent loss too.
A value proposition is the promise of value that a customer can expect a business, product, or person to deliver. Value is determined in the context of the specific identified problem that a business, product, or person solves. A unique value proposition is a solution that your competitors can’t easily replicate, if at all.
Let’s start with the word promise. A promise assumes that the customer believes and trusts you. A powerful story frame can speed up the trust-building process.
Identified problem assumes that you have listened and understand the unique challenge facing the customer (or marketplace). The ability to listen and self-awareness are big advantages in communicating value propositions. The customer may not be aware of the extent of the challenge or the actual cost of not resolving it. Or they may just be in denial.
Last, there are two aspects associated with the word unique. The first is whether your product is actually unique or if it is a commodity. If it isn’t unique, then the challenge is to show your value is greater, which relies heavily on personal connection, trust building, and relationships. That can be achieved more quickly with personal stories and origin stories as well as other stories that connect with your audience.
Many of the clichés we use in a business setting
They are overused, weak value propositions that have no impact when used alone. Some examples include:
My door is always open;
Our culture really sets us apart;
We believe people are our most valuable asset.
All are great ideas but rarely land with impact. The good news is that using clichés can work with a technique known as qualifying the cliché. It’s a simple approach that involves adding one phrase immediately before or after the cliché or even in both places. Let’s break it down.
take the approach, “I know this sounds cliché, but we offer our clients ‘world class service.’” Then immediately follow up with, “Now let me explain what we mean by world-class service.” And then begin the story.
there are only three ways to compete or gain a competitive advantage in a marketplace. He defines those three strategy types as cost leadership, differentiation, and market segmentation (or focus).5
For our purposes we’ll focus on differentiation. Differentiation is often misunderstood as standing out or being different. But it’s much more than that. It also is the ability to sell a product or service without having to drop its price.
The frame tells the story; the value proposition plants the seeds for the message. The latter connects with and opens your audience to listen. The value propositions we have chosen in our work come directly from what we value in our lives. For example, “I chose to work for this company because … .”
Delivery, authenticity from the heart, content, messaging, and value proposition all work together to deliver the connection, delivery, and believability. When they’re all in sync we achieve the desired result—we’re trusted, liked, and known. That’s the goal of influence.
Tie-Downs: The Master Influencer’s Secret Weapon
“Assume nothing; communicate everything.”
Influence happens through the tie-down.
The tie-down is the most powerful way to ensure a message is not only received but also that it is understood exactly as intended.
The tie-down explicitly outlines the precise value of the message in the context of what is important to the audience and their current needs.
As we discussed earlier, the brain’s first job is to monitor for potential threats. To understand how this relates to tie-downs, let’s assume the brain doesn’t perceive any potential threats. Once we’re safe, the brain now tries to make sense not only of the world around us but also the behaviors of those around us.
With so much information flooding in, the brain must make quick decisions as to what is important and what isn’t. That means most information—including your message—in all likelihood could be ignored.
This same thought process happens when we speak in person as well. Our audience constantly searches for:
What this information will mean to them;
What value it will add to their lives;
How it will help them achieve their goals.
Context plays a huge role in determining the mindset of an audience. If the audience has paid to attend, they already have decided that there is potential value in the information they are to be provided, so they’re receptive to hearing it and taking notes.
Essentially, the influence happened before their arrival. Either marketing, social presence, a book or written article, or a referral of some sort worked in favor of the presenter to prepare the audience (frame them) to see the value in the thoughts and ideas to be presented. These are examples of strategies that grow someone’s ethos and make influence and trust happen more quickly.
The tie-down is the clearest communication of value to your audience. What makes it so powerful is that it is customized to them specifically.
Again, the tie-down answers the specific question of what this message means to you, the audience. That phrase draws a clear connection to exactly what the audience will gain from your message.
A powerful image created the emotion I needed and gave them a glimpse into the future. The tie-down (what it means to them) was crystal clear—if you don’t brush your teeth daily, your teeth will look like that.
The frame creates the emotional movement, but it needs to be directed at something. Emotion for the sake of emotion in business can be frustrating and uncomfortable. The tie-down allows you to funnel the emotion (pathos) created in the frame laser-like to a specific action. That action is your influence objective (IO).
Influence Objective (IO)
To effectively execute the tie-down, your influence objective—the behavior you hope to influence—must be clear. The influence objective is the specific action, thought, or behavior you are trying to influence.
to deliver the messaging effectively requires all the skills of listening, self-awareness, and empathy. A story, statistics, or quotes without a tie-down is like a joke with no punchline.
The tie-down is not necessarily a call to action although both are closely linked. What makes it especially difficult to get the tie-down right is the assumption that because a message is shared, it is understood. Too often people assume that because they have spoken clearly, their message has been heard.
You have read this already, but it’s absolutely worth repeating: At a high level, a tie-down is the benefit of your message to the listener. But communicating it is complicated because of the many intangibles of your audience, including ideas and emotions. We also must factor in the audience’s or client’s specific needs, state of mind, and current situation. That’s a lot to digest, but all of it is important.
If you remove the benefits from the equation, you only trigger both Broca’s and Wernicke’s specific areas of the brain that are responsible for processing language. These two tiny areas of the brain don’t contribute to behavior change.1
When we return benefits to the equation by means of a tie-down, we trigger the brain to imagine future benefits, draw vivid pictures, and feel the benefits. That anticipation releases the chemical dopamine (the happy hormone) as well, which is positive when we’re trying to influence behavior.
Statistics With a Tie-Down
Let’s look at those same statistics presented with a tie-down:
97 percent of buyers search for their homes online.5Tie-down: If you are a real estate agent and you don’t have an online presence, you risk losing your clients to those who do.
56.75 percent of all Internet traffic is mobile.6Tie-down: If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you are alienating more than half the visitors to your website.
96 percent of Internet users increased their video consumption in 2020.7Tie-down: You need to invest in creating powerful and compelling videos that communicate your value proposition or you will be left in the dust.
Similar information can have a different value to different audiences. It can become even more complex among various people in the same audience, too. That’s why it’s so important to know your audience and to have enough tie-downs to address the needs of everyone.
The tie-down draws a clear connection between the message and its meaning.
Entry ramps are simply transition phrases that quickly signal to the audience what is coming next. They help the presenter/speaker stay on track, too.
The easiest and most common entry ramp or transition to the tie-down is: “The reason I share that with you is … .”
What this means to you is …
I share this/that story with you because …
Why this matters to you is …
I believe this matters to you because …
The point of all this is …
This is relevant to you because …
My point is …
I bring this to your attention because …
I invite you to consider …
This is applicable in your situation because …
What’s in it for you is …
The reason you should care is …
This is pertinent information because …
The value to you is …
This relates to you because …
The reason that is cool is …
This is significant because …
This directly correlates to you because …
This is very fitting because …
This story is appropriate because …
The tie-down explicitly outlines the precise value of the message in the context of what is important to the audience and their current needs. When you can accomplish all that, the magical outcome is influence.
The Art and Science of Storytelling
Value of Stories
Whenever we kick off AMPLIFII events over dinner, I begin with this story frame. You can take a plain piece of chicken with no story and it ends up on the dollar menu at a fast-food restaurant or take-out shop. Now take that same piece of chicken, build a story around it, the farm it came from, how it was meticulously prepared by a five-star chef, and presented with the utmost attention to detail. Suddenly that $1 piece of chicken is part of a $100 per person tasting menu.
Let’s face it, we as humans have a tough time resisting a good story, whether it’s water cooler gossip, a social media post, a Go Fund Me appeal, a movie, a favorite show, or simply a fun experience.
storytelling is the most powerful way to engage an audience in complex concepts and ideas. The right story can move audiences to support extremely complex business ventures and give money to finance them.
Stories allow us to build a simplified model of reality to make sense of the world around us.
Think about it. Our brains are constantly deciding what’s valuable and what’s not. That’s where storytelling becomes a powerful tool. As mentioned earlier, a story becomes the logical and natural way to organize or categorize data into a simplified, usable—what’s valuable to me at this moment—model of reality.
The reason we daydream is that the largest part of our brains, the neocortex, is charged with trying to predict the future to prepare us for various eventualities—what if this happens or that happens. Daydreaming is simply scenario planning or future simulations.
we stop daydreaming because the storyteller is doing the daydreaming for us. The storyteller is building the narrative inside the listener’s mind.
In fact, when someone listens to a story, they aren’t just listening, they are fully present. It’s the same level of awareness as if they were in a life-and-death situation—as attuned to the message as if someone were pointing a gun at them. That level of acute focus is known as attentional narrowing.
Your Story Formula
It has been said that there are only seven basic narrative plots in storytelling that are used repeatedly just swapping out different characters. Those seven types of story, according to The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories by Christopher Booker (Bloomsbury), are:
Overcoming the monster;
Rags to riches;
Voyage and return;
Just because there’s a formula or the story line might be the same, though, doesn’t mean the content is similar. It means that we can more easily follow the patterns and structure and our brains don’t get distracted. That way it’s easier to focus on the message being delivered.
Concerning communication, the heart includes three elements—our personal values, beliefs, and memories.
Through story, we truly experience what others experience, even if they are fictional.
The amount of oxytocin released by the brain, for example, can predict how much people are willing to help others.
For those with doubts about the scientific connection, this transfer of emotions is illustrated by how many people feel dominant after watching a hero or superhero movie—like James Bond, 007, saving the world or Marvel’s Avengers defeating evil.
“My experiments show that character-driven stories with emotional content result in a better understanding of the key points a speaker wishes to make and enable better recall of these points weeks later.”9
Therefore, the story—the frame—becomes one of the most powerful ways to connect with your audience. When you tell a story, your audience becomes so engrossed in the narrative that they place themselves in the story.
Story also is one of those few ways humans can truly experience another’s perspective. That’s real empathy.
The Trust Factor
In telling stories, we make our way into the listeners’ brains and can create the desired narrative if, and that’s a big if, there is trust. If trust is established, stories actually can influence how people think and make decisions.
The best salespeople, leaders, and organizers create great narratives and powerful stories that deliver a message to help others take action. They understand the power of what they say and how they say it.
Body Language and Presence
Your body introduces you before your words.
It’s easy to get excited about learning tips around influence because they can have an immediate impact. But I urge you to focus on the authentic message and believe in what you’re talking about. In most cases that automatically creates congruent body language.
If you don’t own a voice recorder, you haven’t entered the world of professional selling.
Clues, Not Absolutes
A good rule of thumb is that body language cues should lead to curiosity, not conclusions. When we are curious, we ask questions sincerely and with an open mind. For example, when we see a person with their arms crossed—often a sign of combativeness—we may ask them how they are feeling. They could respond that they’re cold or perhaps feeling uncomfortable.
Accusing someone of being defensive because of one body language cue does not enhance one’s influence. The goal isn’t to read body language. The goal is connection, empathy, and trust.
Curiosity also works with self-reflection. We need to ask ourselves why we make a certain movement and what causes those micro-expressions.
Look for Clusters
Rather than making a judgment based on one nonverbal cue, look for clusters of information that either show congruency or incongruency with the language used. A simple example is the use of sarcasm.
a resonant leader as someone who understands that their emotional state, behavior, body language, and overall attitude are contagious and will infect an organization
One common example is the “My door is always open” mantra from leaders, who walk through the hallways with head down on the phone, not speaking to anyone.
“What’s your hallway walk?” How do you walk down the hallway? Do you make contact with people? Build relationships? Recognize people? Remember names? Or are you head down, rushing to your next meeting?”
Body language helps us decipher four critical questions:
Are they embracing or rejecting me or the idea?
Do they like or dislike me or the idea?
Are they engaged or distracted?
Are they being honest or lying?
What’s more, those decisions usually are made in the first three seconds. At that point, most people have decided whether they like or dislike you. It’s hard to influence someone who doesn’t like you.
Our spoken words communicate information, but our body language and tone communicate our attitudes, feelings, and ultimately meaning.
Our spoken words communicate information, but our body language and tone communicate our attitudes, feelings, and ultimately meaning.
What’s critical to understand, too, is that body language is a two-way street. As we constantly try to read people’s body language—all the signals, such as posture, eye contact, and micro-expressions—we sometimes forget that we are sending messages to others who are consciously and subconsciously trying to read us.
we send more messages with our eyes than any other part of our body,
When we are passionate about the topic of a presentation, our eyes will sparkle, and our audience will see that. These physiological responses are virtually impossible to fake and as we mentioned before, occur when we are being genuine.
The Glare Effect
In certain situations, especially video presentations and calls, glasses create reflections and distortions that easily blur or hide the eye connection. Worse, some glasses can create a jarring reflection that bothers viewers. (Note to self: Bald heads also can cause rough reflections that bother an audience, especially on video.)
Test your glasses in front of a screen to see whether they project a glare.
Digital Body Language
In many cases, we’re unintentionally sending the message of disinterest because we’re looking at someone’s face instead of directly into the camera.
In many cases, we’re unintentionally sending the message of disinterest because we’re looking at someone’s face instead of directly into the camera.
Again, pay attention to how your image appears on a screen.
Mehrabian found that nonverbals made up 55 percent of the meaning in communication. Again, as discussed, that’s more support for the fact that when someone’s words say one thing and their body another, we are more likely to listen to or believe their body.
someone’s meetings are boring or if they speak in a boring monotone, don’t expect an audience to hear their message, no matter how valuable it is.
The good news is that with practice and discipline, and through recording and reviewing our presentations, we can develop a keen awareness of our body language.
As mentioned previously, the best way to master body movements is through recording yourself. Or if the goal is to improve your voice, record it on video as well because your posture and facial expressions affect how you sound.
One of the main reasons to focus on posture is that we have direct control over it.
Let’s think in terms of logos (logic). If we change our body, we change the emotions. When we change our emotions, we can change the decisions we make. When we make new decisions to better our lives, we improve the quality of life.
The same applies to an audience. That’s why I ask my audiences to stand before I start my keynote speeches.
Real presence comes from an unshakable belief in ourselves. is. It’s not easy to achieve, and sometimes we must force our bodies into positions of power and presence before we emotionally feel powerful. But that discipline is essential to develop presence over time.
Studies show that powerful people have common behavior patterns, which include:
Greater eye contact;
Speaking more slowly;
Pausing more often;
Taking up more space physically;
Sitting and walking upright and not hunched over.
These traits should become a to-do list for people who want to improve and develop their presence. Following are some helpful steps on the journey to greater presence:
Practice making more eye contact in every conversation. Hold that eye contact for as long as possible without making the situation awkward or intimidating.
Pay attention to the pace of a speech or presentation. Slow it down so that you have greater control of your voice.
Be mindful of utilizing powerful pauses instead of run-on sentences and filler words.
Intentionally try to take up more space when sitting or standing. Don’t be rude or obnoxious, just be bigger and wider. Move around more and don’t be afraid to be more animated with your arms when telling a story.
Walk as tall as possible with your chest out. Practice and record it so you don’t look ridiculous. With practice and the right mindset, the posture will become natural and powerful.
The Influence Zone
When attending an in-person meeting, everyone has what’s known as the influence zone (see Figure 10.2). That zone is in front of you and extends upward from your belly button to your eyes. When your hands are in the influence zone, you’re more engaging.
An optimal place for your hands is home base—hands together with fingers loosely intertwined, centered just above or at the belly button level, and with your shoulders square.
A few don’ts when it comes to your hands:
Using an upward pointing steeple, which comes across as conniving;
Pointing with fingers, which conveys aggressiveness;
Drumming your fingers, which is highly distracting;
Making a fist or fists, which communicates stress;
Crossing your arms in front of you, which signals that you are closed off;
Keeping arms at your sides loosely, which looks sloppy;
Using any self-soothing or hand massaging, which conveys nervousness;
Picking in ears, eyes, or nose, which is obviously gross.
Use the stage with purpose, and time your movements to make it feel smooth.
Interpersonal Communication: LOVE and Other Things
But all of us want to influence someone one-on-one. Whether it’s a parent trying to connect with a child, a teacher to a student, manager to employee, potential suitor to a person of interest, CEO to their company’s teams, or a sales professional to a prospect,
A powerful sequence that follows what the best communicators do is all about LOVE. That’s an acronym for:
that the biggest threat to good communication lies in our perceptions that trick us into thinking we have communicated effectively or that we have understood clearly. The worst of this is that our perceptions form our reality. In other words, if we aren’t diligent in maintaining a high sense of awareness, we will never know when we communicate poorly.
anytime we communicate something, there are six checkpoints in our brain that a message must pass through before it is fully transmitted. At any of these points, our message can either pass in its intended form or become distorted. The checkpoints include:
What I want to say;
What I actually say;
What the other person hears;
What the other person understands;
What the other person wants to say in response;
What the other person actually says in response.
One lost message leads to further misunderstanding, which can further distort the message.
Your personal filter is the way you see, engage with, and understand the world around you and inside you.
Those filters are the result of the frame you construct and how you interpret the world.
Filters impact everything we hear, read, and consume in life. Pessimists see events through a negative lens, creating a negative reality. People who see the world through an optimistic lens likely find the silver lining even in the most difficult times.
Filters also affect how we explain life and events. The narratives we tell ourselves play a major role in our happiness and ability to cope with day-to-day setbacks.
Common filters include the emotional state, cultural background, situational context, personal beliefs, and stress level of the listener. These filters will influence the perception and interpretation of Lynn’s message, resulting in either a clear communication or a distorted one.
Personal beliefs. In life, everything we experience is related to previous experiences.
We have core beliefs that guide the way we listen, perceive, and interpret what we hear. That’s why it’s important to be aware of our listeners’ personal beliefs.
So how can we check our communication to make sure our message got through? To ensure that our message is received as intended our audience/listener needs to repeat the message back in some manner.
Being Right versus Being Heard
Miscommunication is often caused by misinterpreting the intended needs of people.
We assume that people need to feel like they are always right. But after years of facilitating thousands of conversations, I have learned that’s an inaccurate assumption. Instead, people really want to feel that they have been heard. That can only be determined by them, not us.
For that to happen, we must provide the space for someone to confirm or deny that they’ve been heard, and if not, give them the opportunity to try again.
If your goal is influence, there’s only one choice: make your audience feel heard first.
Tips for Effective Communication
Ask clarifying questions: In addition to indicating interest and attention, these questions can clarify meaning and may unearth multiple messages. Some approaches that foster clarification are:
I’m not sure I understand.
What was it you just said?
What do you mean by …
Paraphrase: Do not assume you understand what was said. Paraphrase to test whether you heard right and to show your depth of understanding. For example:
Do you mean that …
Repeat back what you heard: In a stressful situation, don’t over-paraphrase. Try to be verbatim, and always ask, “Am I correct?” or “Is that right?” Give the other person the opportunity to respond.
Check perception: Remember that people also communicate feelings through language.
Active, attentive listening: Perfect practice of active listening involves being responsive through facial expression, eye contact, and obvious interest.
Remember, the right sequence to connect is all about LOVE, an acronym for:
Fear of Rejection
The main reason people don’t achieve more of what they want in life is the fear of rejection. That’s especially true in sales and dating.
You Create the Fear
Let’s analyze why rejection is even part of the communication equation
The answers to those questions are based on the fact that in one scenario we have a hidden agenda and in the other we don’t.
The Hidden Agenda
“Nice guys finish last.” The reality is that “nice guys” don’t finish last. “Nice guys” are passive manipulative liars.
The reason they are passive manipulative liars is that they hope that being nice will get them something in exchange.
Humans have an aversion to anyone who tries to hide their true intention with fake behavior. The same is true when a salesperson makes a cold call. The prospect can smell the phoniness a mile away. The same thing happens when a child needs something from a parent and acts overly sweet. We are programmed to spot this behavior immediately.
Stop Trying to Be Liked
The reason we aren’t stressed or rejected at happy hour with our friends is because we aren’t trying to make them like us. The reason we ask a stranger for directions is we don’t have the hidden agenda of asking for a date. When we remove that hidden element, the fear of rejection magically goes away.
Start Liking People
To authentically connect with others this process required us to let go of the need to be liked and start proactively liking other people, If we enter a conversation with the intent of finding a reason to like someone, the dynamics change. Our tone, line of questioning, pacing, and ability to listen all are different, and the other person feels it.
Because we aren’t trying to get something or asking for anything, there is nothing to reject.
Plenty of studies look at why we tend to feel more comfortable around people who like us. The reasons range from consensual validation, shared commonalities, and certainty of being liked to more fun, enjoyable interactions, and the ability to be more like ourselves. Reasons lead back to one thing we learned early on in this book-the feeling of safety.
The love Method
The love method, as mentioned, earlier is:
Clear mind. One of the secrets to listening is the ability to clear our minds and listen without an agenda. That means instead of the typical crafting of a response while someone talks, we should listen to what is being said. After all, that’s what we all strive for in the study of influence. We want people to listen to our messages. We can’t expect others to listen our messages. We can’t expect others to listen unless we’re willing to listen first.
Makes this approach difficult to master is that initially it triggers the internal fear, “Will I be ready to respond” or “Will I Know the nest question to ask?”
Center of attention. Listening with the LOVE approach also requires us to maintain focus on the individual with whom we are speaking. The normal tendency is to craft a response that removes the focus from the speaker.
Consider the following two scenarios:
Speaker: where are you from?
Audience of one: Hawaii.
Speaker: Oh, I love that place. My favorite beach is…
Speaker: where are you from?
Audience of one: Hawaii.
Speaker: Oh, that’s so cool. what is your favorite part about Hawaii?
In Scenario 1, the speaker quickly has shifted the spotlight away from the audience of one, Suddenly, the conversation focuses back on the speaker, losing the potential connection with the audience.
Even if we have been Hawaii 20 times and have 100 stories to tell that could relate, we should wait and keep asking questions with the goal of learning more.
If we don’t observe, we may miss that key clue to the real massage. It could be a missed eyeroll or inflection that totally changes the message’s meaning. The right kind of listening also means leaning into the person who I talking. It’s physical act that conveys we are paying attention.
We should look for points of passion intersect will be a fun place to continue dialogue and build relationships.
Validation is authentically reflecting back in some way what that person said that influenced us. Lean in, brighten that smile, nod the head, and show enthusiasm and excitement with words and action, some responses could included:
“I didn’t know that!”
“that’s disgusting!” (With a laugh.)
We constantly must validate that we listen and hear what’s being said.
If we omit the validation, our conversations sound like an interrogation. We also must realize that out conversations-at least in the beginning-aren’t necessarily a two-way street.
We do that by learning to expand our interactions through asking the right questions through asking the right questions, paying attention to the details, and engaging the other person.
The main reason people don’t do well at presentations, in cold calls, or in conversations as discussed earlier, is because they try to get people to like them instead of digging to find reasons to proactively like other. We do that by bombarding them with information in the hopes that some of it may get them to like us more.
People say trust takes time. That isn’t always true. True is a formula and a process that usually takes time to play out. When we follow these steps and authentically check these boxes, trust happens faster.
The Stress Factor
Nerve are the mind and body’s way to letting us know something is important.
But stress hinders your ability to perform at your best and therefore sabotages your ability to influence.
“It’s all right to have butterflies in your stomach. Just get them to fly in formation.”
Let’s start with understanding that there are two systems or minds in our brain that dictate our behavior.
System 1: Fast Thinking
This type of thinking is powered by the autonomic nervous system and is automatic. Remember sequence, the brain, and how it triggers our fight/ flight/ freeze responses? The amygdala is our panic button. The thalamus is the brains relay station. And the hypothalamus connects to the autonomic nervous system, which controls the parasympathetic or calm response and the sympathetic or excited-response nervous system. These are automatic response nervous systems. These are automatic responses, the aspects of life that we don’t have to think about: breathing, heartbeat, digestion, walking, simple math, etc.
Some example of how system 1 works automatically include
Detecting whether an object is near or far away;
The ability to orient ourselves to sound in a room;
Detecting hostility in a voice;
These are automatic response that don’t require much of our brain’s energy
System 2: Slow thinking
We don’t know the solution instantly because the precise answer doesn’t because the precise answer doesn’t come to mind immediately and required more attention and energy. This is what’s known as slow thinking.
The process of slow thinking requires us to recall certain events or, in this instance, lessons learned in school. Then we draw conclusions-solve the problem. Slow thinking is not automatic. System 2 allocates our attention to the more difficult mental activities, including complex computations, and is typically associated with the subjective experiences of choice and concentrations.
Here are several examples of system 2, which required real brain energy:
Focusing on finding a specific person in a crowd;
Mentally preparing yourself for a big event-a race perhaps or even a presentation;
Trying to recall a familiar song on the radio;
Walking fast to keep up with someone else;
Managing your behavior in a social setting;
System 2 Is at the Mercy of System 1
System 2 is trying to remind you of why you’re trying to accomplish the goal, we can think of system 1 as like a superhero, its job is to protect you from evil-in this instance, stress.
Compare and contrast.
Procrastination is a great way to explain these differences. Let’s say you’re getting ready for a presentation to 1,000 people, the thought of walking out in front of that huge audience starts to trigger stress.
Stress can be deadly, so as protection our system 1 kicks in and says “There’s a problem. The perfect solution is to put the project off and do is tomorrow.”
So you put off the project, and system 1 did its job. You’re no longer stressed.
At the same time, system2 tells you that you’re an idiot to procrastinate. Don’t put the project. But system 1 is in control, and everything seems like smooth sailing.
The job of system 1 is to protect us from stress and of system2 to prepare us for the longer term.
System 1 and speaking
When we are about to speak, make a pitch, or enter an important influence scenario, the likelihood of system 1 entering the picture is high. Thus, the ability and kill to master your stress levels are paramount to becoming an effective influencer and leader. All the preparation and study in the world won’t alleviate that stress if we can’t learn to manage our system 1.
Apply the Learning:
Nerves are normal. The key is to learn how to ease the stress. Watch how this simple ice breaker changes the energy of the room. Before your next presentation/talk/speech, try this:
As soon as you take the stage, address your audience: “Before we get started, I ‘d like to ask everyone to stand up. if you are like most people today, you are bombarded with information and requests for your time and energy. The fact that you are here is h huge honor for me and for (your host’s name), so we want to thank you for that. If you would, I’d like you to just take a moment and shake three people’s hands. You only have30seconds, so stay focused. Go!”)
The breathing technique calls for a person to inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds and hold for 4 seconds. It’s 4-4-4-4-. That process and structure trigger a parasympathetic nervous system response, which is the relaxed response.
3-in, 4-out Method
I use another similar and simpler method that I Learned from the Mayo Clinic. It is simply three seconds in and four seconds out. It is important to get that fourth second to trigger the relaxed response, if you exhale too fast-you’ll feel it-you will begin to hyperventilate, which has the opposite effect on your sympathetic nervous system, triggering more stress.
Putting It All Together and More
Sometimes influence is setting yourself up in the best strategic position possible. Then you control what you can control and nothing more. It doesn’t work every time. But does it work more than the person who doesn’t try it? Absolutely! There are no silver bullets, so don’t look for them. What you want is an accumulation of subtle advantages that accrue over time. A racehorse only needs to win by a nose. The same works with influence, too.
Impact: to be an effective leader, you mist have the ability to influence. Remember the definition: To influence is to have an impact on the behaviors. Attitudes, opinions, and choices of others.
Transparency is key. What sets influence apart from manipulation is that influence most often happens transparently with both parties fully aware of it.
Manipulation is using persuasion to an extreme at the expense of another person and is often done without the person knowledge. Key words being extreme and expense.
Cost of Not Hiring You
A running joke among my close friends is the way I respond whenever someone asks, “What does it cost to bring you in?” My response is the exact same every time. It utilizes may of the sills and principles you’ve learned in this book.
Clint: “So how much does it cost to bring you in?”
Me: “I’m sorry, to bring me in or not to bring m in?”
With that interchange, I get one of two responses. Either the potential client laughs or giggles and says,: Ha ha,: to bring you in. that was good.” Or with a somewhat perplexed but intrigued look like they slowly say,: To bring you in.” Either way my response it typically the same.
Me: “I say that somewhat facetiously because if it costs you more to bring me than not doing so, it won’t cost you anything you just won’t bring me in. It wouldn’t make any business sense to use my services. But if there is a solution that I can bring to the table that solves a problem for you that far exceeds the cost of bringing me in, would you agree that here would be a cost to not solving that problem?”
The amount of logic used in that response is fair and triggers a real business onverstaion around what actually matters-value. I have never had anyone disagree wtith logic, and the response is typically something along the following:
Client: “That actually makes a lot of sense.”
ME: “So what I’d like to do is to learn more about your business, what your goals are, and see where my skill sets and solutions might be able to provide value that far exceeds the cost of bringing me in. My goal is always to offer value at least three to fie times greater than my cost. And if I don’t do that, I won’t charge you anything, and your only risk would be time- something we would both invest together.”
Even client with whom I have worked for years ask me the same question and then immediately follow up with, “Yeah, yeah I know. What does it cost to not bring you in?” And my response to that is always the same, and I say it with a big smile.
Me: Great, yes, let’s talk abut the value we are trying to create together.”
Important: To be able to deliver a script like that, you first must believe in this philosophy, which I do to my core. If you struggle with the price objection or with your personal value, then you might have a hard time authentically delivering this script.
The AMPLIFII Checklist
Everything you’ve learned in this book can be summed up in the AMPLIFII checklist.
Theses are the steps I follow ever time I craft a message, put together a presentation, or give a talk. Let’s take a closer look.
Who is my audience?
What is my influence objective (IO)?
What is my value proposition or core message?
What frame best sets up my message?
Is my ethos(credibility) in good standing?
Does my frame trigger the appropriate pathos(emotions)?
Does my message make logical (logos) sense?
Is my tie-down clear and my audience understand what my message means to them?
Is my message relevant and current (Kairos)?
Am I clear as to where I am going with my message (telos)
What Is My Influence Objective (IO)?
Think of the next action that needs to be taken to move the company forward. Make it tangible, too. For example, “ I want to setup a 30- minutes phone call,” or “I want them to agree to 8 a.m. September 25.”
Stayaway from intangible objectives such as “a meet and greet” or “for them to see what we are about.” The latter are hard to measure and don’t more the process forward.
What Frame Best Sets Up the Message?
I’ve discussed many different framing devices. Stories are the most powerful, with your origin story at the top of the list.
Is My Ethos in Good Standing?
This is one of the most important questions to ask and includes multiple layers.
First, this is a preemptive strategy in which you take inventory of the situation up from to avoid any surprises
It’s an ideal situation to us the 3Ps tool-predict, preempt, prevent. This is also where it’s Important to determine if there is any threat to your credibility-ethos-before making your presentation.
If a threat is present, then employ preemptive measures to remedy that threat before it sabotages your influence objective for example let’s say you are preparing to present a plan to a team, but they are to influential individuals on the team who may not be on board with your plan. If they decide to go against you, if could sway the team.
Most people don’t take the time to consider their ethos. And if they do, rather than take preemptive measures, they role the dice and prepare to go toe-to-toe with any opponents in the meeting -not a smart move. Here is a better strategy.
Set up a meeting with each person individually and take the following approach:
John, I wanted to connect before the budget meeting and make sure you and I are on the same page. You are such a critical member of this team, and if for some reason you didn’t agree with my plan, I’d prefer to hash it out before the meeting so we could align. Besides, you may have some insights that I may have missed.
Being transparent about your intentions and desire or alignment is ethical and a mark of respect for your colleague.
A similar situation can be one in which you don’t have any opposing threats in the meeting but you do need the team to wake up and take action. You may want to have some premeeting individual discussions with the more influential people and enroll them as advocates before the main meeting.
It is important to note that this isn’t about worrying what others think of you. This is about your personal brand and your credibility. you must protect it, so be honest with yourself. If your ethos is at risk, face it and fix it head on with integrity.
Does My Frame Trigger Appropriate Pathos?
Remember, pathos drives people to act on what you are saying. It triggers the emotion and engages them more deeply with you.
Pathos typically is where my clients back out at the last minute. They see the audience and revert to more traditional, logos-heavy presentation styles.
New entrepreneurs often lack logos because they are so passionate(pathos) about their ideas and are frustrated when forced to develop a business plan. To ease the frustration, make sure there is a clear plan of action if needed. Keep it simple to remove any friction or limits on your audience’s ability to act.
If your presentation ventures into potentially risky territory for political correctness, it can be beneficial to elicit the help of others.
If you ramble and are lost, you’ve lost sight of telos. Stop rambling, center your body, place your hands in the influence zone (between belly button and eyes), and say with convictions, “the reason I share this with your is…”
The skills shared in this book will require you to put in the time to master them. You will need to fail at them and fail often. You will need to make mistakes and sometimes even bomb in front of a room. It’s part of the game.
Now go and let your heart speak in sequence.