Monday, March 17, 2008

Wooing Your Readers

Do you write proposals for upper management’s approval? Are you aspiring to a leadership position or already in one? Can you see sound courses of action ahead that need loads of buy-in from all levels of your organization or community? Is your future success based on influencing others over whom your power is limited?

If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you will find profitable reading material in The Art of Woo: Using Strategic Persuasion to Sell Your Ideas by G. Richard Shell and Mario Moussa (Portfolio Books, 2007). The authors systematically take their readers on a constructive process aimed toward persuasion without manipulation. Among their practical tips:
• Summarize the idea in a five-minute pitch.
• Confront barriers in your credibility with your audience.
• Map the decision making process, including all key players along the way to the ultimate decision makers.
• Confirm your own passion for the long haul and value small victories.
• Respect your audience’s beliefs.
• Personalize your pitch.

The book has much more to offer than these points. I found especially refreshing the authors’ admonishment that would-be wooers leave relationships better than they were before the wooing began. It doesn’t hurt that the case studies they use are highly entertaining, particularly the one of celebrated rock star Bono’s unlikely success in wooing archconservative U.S. Senator Jesse Helms to support African debt relief and funding for AIDS programs for Africa. This book is a must-read for persuasive writers.

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