Persuade your audience to take action

In an earlier email we looked at a few of the factors that prevented people from taking action. Here, I’ll try to dig a bit deeper into what it takes to influence them to act, by identifying the building blocks of persuasive communication.


  • The source – The person who is communicating in an attempt to persuade.
  • The message – What is said, how it is said, when it is said, etc.
  • The audience – The individual or a group of people that receives the message.

Each of these can be optimized in order to be more persuasive.


persuasive source

The persuasiveness of the communicator (this might be you) can be broken down into:


Confidence – In conversation, confidence is displayed through:


  • Good posture
  • Eye contact
  • Calm, measured speech
  • Dressing the part 

In group settings (we could extend this to online channels like social media and emails as well) there is an additional factor. You need to be louder than the crowd, so to speak. As unfair as it may seem, quiet confidence just doesn’t work.


Credibility – This is especially important if you don’t have a clear understanding of the people you are talking to. This lack of understanding can be offset by them having a positive impression of you, the communicator.


You might build credibility by:


  • Giving the impression that you know what you’re talking about.
  • Being similar to, or liked by, your audience.
  • Having a respectable level of status in a community.

Flexibility – The ability to compromise on certain points in your agenda is key to getting people to act. Go into a dialogue hard-headed, and you might just leave empty-handed.


Flexibility also involves listening to feasible suggestions. By considering what someone has to say, you may identify certain points that can help you persuade the person or people you are talking to.


Read: What does it really mean to listen?


persuasive message

Persuasive messaging needs to be able to serve multiple purposes. Let me illustrate this through the AIDA model of marketing.


Awareness – Creating awareness of your presence in the minds of your audience. This starts with figuring out your optimal outreach strategy, and the most suitable communication methods/tools/platforms to use. 


Awareness can be created through actions across varying complexities. This could be as simple as a knock on a door for a canvassing campaign, or as complex as a months-long PR effort to target audiences.


Interest – You can achieve this by figuring out what intrigues your audience (the more specific, the better), and presenting it front and center. 


At this stage, the goal is getting your audience to want to stay in conversation with you (or keep reading, if this is a one-way message)


Read: What does it take for your message to stand out?


Desire – The natural progression from liking what you’re saying (interest) is for your audience to want to act based on what you’re saying (desire).


Achieve this by communicating clear benefits. Show them a gap between where they are and where they could be, and how taking action would bridge that gap.


Read: The one thing you need to know about your audience


Action – If your audience satisfactorily passed through the previous stages, this should be the easiest part of your message. Your CTA should be to the point, while spelling out exactly what you want your audience to do.


NoteIt helps a great deal if you can make it easy for someone to take the action you want them to. Ex. Reducing the steps needed for them to sign up, donate, recommend or otherwise participate.


A persuadable audience

An audience that is naturally inclined to act as you wish them to act will reduce effort significantly.


While I am presenting this section last, the audience should be the first thing you identify. As seen in the previous sections, your audience will help determine the best person or channel to communicate through, and the way you frame your message


If that audience is evident, or is an individual, great. If not, identify your target audience:


  • Through research – surveys, interviews, focus groups.
  • By creating a profile that describes your ideal audience, along with their traits, behaviours, and demographics.
  • By figuring out how others with similar goals are getting results. Who are they targeting?


In some cases, a target audience may not be found. This may indicate that the action you wish to persuade them to do needs to be reassessed.


Being persuasive comes with the understanding that a nudge can work better than a push. There are a few specific techniques that you can use to nudge people to action, but that’s a topic for a future email.


See you next time,