The “Influence” series: “Authority”
Continuing our series on persuasive writing tips applying Cialdini’s “Influence” principles [for an intro see our April issue], here’s how you can use “Authority” to win readers over.
To Cialdini, “authority” is a powerful persuasive principle that leverages our “deep-seated sense of duty.” [For shocking proof (literally), see the Milgram Experiment].
To build “authority” in your writing, consider:
- Your tone: You’re a professional recommending a solution, so don’t beg your reader to take it; politely assume they will. How does a doctor make requests?
(a) “Would you like to remove your clothes now?” or
(b) “I need to examine you – please undress.” So instead of writing, “Would you like to learn more about what we offer?” try: “Probably the best next step would be to meet so I can learn more about your needs and see how we can help. How about 3pm next Tuesday?”
- Your experience: Can you cite research (e.g. survey results) your company has conducted? This can position you as an authority.
- Your title: If you have relevant qualifications and/or association memberships, consider adding the letters after your name to build credibility – but keep them small and understated. “John Smith, MBA, CPA” trumps “John Smith.”
- Your branding: Skimping on a professionally-designed logo and quality collateral is like wearing a cheap suit. Make your logo, website, email signature, letterhead, envelopes and business cards exceptional.
Naturally this is the tip of the iceberg. If you’d like to master influential writing consider our writing masterclasses. Next public course is 19 July. Find out more.
Next month you'll learn how “Reciprocation” can boost the “yeses” you get.