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Be convincing

By July 9, 2022October 18th, 2022No Comments

Be Convincing

If you claim you have fish, show the fish.

For you to be persuasive, your listeners must believe that what you claim is true. In other words, you must be convincing. As far as human brains are concerned, one telltale sign of truth is concreteness. Concreteness comes in the form of details, examples, and stories.

This connection between concreteness and convincingness is sometimes exploited by people who do not tell the truth (they pretend to remember many details) and by people who want to discredit those who tell the truth but, because of trauma, may not remember all the details.

The fact remains, however, that your listeners will likely “see more truth” when you provide at least one add-on detail. It is an important principle to understand if you want to be convincing.

For example, somebody may say: “We’ve been very successful with this approach.”

Complementing this claim with an example sounds like this:

“We’ve been very successful with this approach. For example, just in the last 12 months, we have increased our customer base by 50%. That’s the largest annual jump in our 78-year history.”


Do a hearing analysis (est.io/3q5).

It is clear that the second version is more convincing.


Framework for being convincing:

1. Make a general claim.
2. Add something specific to support it (you can use a sentence beginning with “for example”)

In my training sessions, I also refer to this as a one-two punch combining the abstract with the concrete. It is the combination that creates impact. I find that higher-level leaders especially have a habit of failing to add the concrete portion to abstract statements. I believe that the reason might be in their strength in abstract thinking. Abstract thinking is essential, especially for leaders who must routinely navigate complexities. But it is a double-edged sword because it often leads to a chronic omission of the concrete. Another group affected by this syndrome is scientists and academics.

I like to compare leaving out the concrete to a fisherman holding up a bucket and saying, “this bucket is full of fish,” versus someone holding up the bucket, saying that it is full of fish, and reaching inside to pull out at least one of them. Pulling out that one fish is like saying “for example.”

Saying “we’ve been very successful” without giving one or two examples is like holding up a bucket with a label stating “lots of success”–and not pulling out at least one example.


Key Takeaways

• Concreteness equals convincingness.
• To be concrete, begin a sentence with the words “for example.”
• When you make an important general claim, add a concrete example. Think of it as a one-two punch.


Next steps

• Write a script that states your three most important claims.
• Find supporting details to add concreteness to these claims.
• Use Hearing Analysis to refine your script.