psychology of persuasion

Psychology of Persuasion – How to make your next presentation more persuasive

To influence your clients or your colleagues, you must understand the psychology of persuasion. In his book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Dr. Cialdini shares six principles that you can apply to increase your ability to influence and persuade clients or colleagues. In this article, I’ll share with you how you can take those six psychology of persuasion principles and apply them to your next presentation.

Psychology of Persuasion Principle 1: Reciprocation

The first principle is the principle of reciprocation. What’s this? To get something, you’ve got to give first. In other words, givers get. However you wish to describe it, it’s about sharing your ideas and sharing great value first.

How to apply it to your presentations

The way that you can use this in your next presentation is to make sure that when you’re pitching your ideas to clients or colleagues is to ensure that you are sharing plenty of value first.

Ensure that the opportunities or ideas that you’re sharing with your audience are practical and valuable. Is it something that they could take away and apply without you?

If you can share that level of value, your audience is going to want to reciprocate. In other words, they’re going to be influenced to adopt your ideas and invest in your offer because they know that you are someone that is sharing value. Apply the principle of reciprocation and share great material first before you ask for something in return.

Psychology of Persuasion Principle 2: Social Proof

Principle number two is social proof. Social proof is an easy principle to apply. Look around the world, see what your competitors, your colleagues, or even other industries are doing. Use their example to say, “If they’re doing it, you should do it too.” People are reassured  if other people are adopting an idea, or they’re taking up a challenge. It helps convince them that they should be doing it too.

How to apply it to your presentations

You can use this to your advantage in your presentations. When you’re pitching ideas you can influence the thinking of your audience by sharing testimonials or case studies that show other people, whether it’s competitors or colleagues, taking the particular idea, action, that you’re proposing. If you can find a mechanism to show that other people are doing it, your chances of influencing your audience and persuading them to adopt your ideas and your way of thinking are greatly increased.

Principle number two is social proof. Find ways to show that other people are doing the ideas that you want your audience to follow.

Psychology of Persuasion Principle 3: Commitment & Consistency

The third principle Dr. Robert Cialdini talked about in the psychology of persuasion is the principle of commitment and consistency. This is about recognising the fact that people like to honour their commitments. In other words, if they say they are going to do something, the majority of occasions they want to follow through on those commitments.

How to apply it to your presentations

Now, the way that you can apply this in your presentation as you’re pitching your idea is to find lots of little ways that you can get your audiences and audience members to commit. In other words, find small “yeses”. Identify little things that they can say yes to – small commitments that they can make. It’s can be by simple questions that you ask, simple ideas that you get them to nod in agreement with that ultimately build up to your bigger idea, that bigger idea that you want to persuade or influence them to do.

That is how you’re going to help persuade them, so find lots of little yeses that you can get your audience to commit to during the course of your presentation.


Psychology of Persuasion Principle 4: Liking

The fourth principle is the principle of liking. If the people that you’re trying to influence like you, they are much more likely to accept your ideas. If they don’t like you, the chances of them following the course of action that you’re proposing, changing their direction or changing their thoughts is greatly reduced. You’ve got to invest the time, energy, and effort to make sure that the people you’re trying to persuade like you.

How to apply it to your presentations

Applying this to your presentation and to your pitch means that you need to spend time and effort establishing rapport with your audience. There are two, easy, ways that you can do this. Firstly, before your presentation starts make sure you invest the time to be shaking hands, meeting and greeting audience members as they arrive in the room. That’s your first level of building a rapport factor and developing “likability”.

The second aspect is to share your background and your experience. In other words, include an about me section in your presentation. By sharing a little bit of background story, you demonstrate that you are relatable. Disclosing a little bit about who you are, you add and build upon that likability factor.

Through the course of activities prior to your presentation starting and the early part of your presentation, you need to focus on building a rapport to build a likability factor. Remember, people will not be persuaded by people they do not trust.


Psychology of Persuasion Principle 5: Authority

The fifth principle Dr. Robert Cialdini discusses in his book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, is Authority. People gravitate and follow the lead of experts. So, you’ve got to have a body of work, a credibility factor with the people that you’re trying to persuade and influence.

How to apply it to your presentations

Applying this to your presentation. If we expand what we discussed in principle number four about likability, sharing about you, sharing a little bit about your background and your story, we can enhance and develop this further to include credibility factors. As you share a little bit about your background and your story to build rapport, you can also share your authority. Share credibility-enhancing elements.

Talk about the work that you’ve done. Discuss the papers that you have written and practical (relevant) experiences you’ve gained.

All of that comes together to build your authority, so utilise the “About me” rapport-building section to really enhance not only your likability, but your authority. People will naturally follow the lead experts. If you can demonstrate you’re an expert, demonstrate that you’re likeable, they will want to follow your ideas, and be persuaded and influenced by you.


Psychology of Persuasion Principle 6: Scarcity

The final principle is the principle of scarcity. In other words, the less there is of something, the more your target market, your clients, your colleagues are likely to want whatever it is you’re offering, so you have to find a way to create a natural scarcity and a natural urgency. This has to be done authentically and genuinely, but there are ways and means that you can make any object scarce and more desirable.

How to apply it to your presentations

Through the course of your presentation, you can create a level of urgency and add scarcity by sharing concepts such as your competitors are already doing whatever it is you’re proposing. Other teams within the organisation are already leading in terms of what you’re offering or trying to influence the thinking with.

If you can share a way to create a level of natural and authentic scarcity, and create urgency, people are more likely to be persuaded to act now, to take up your ideas today rather than leaving it some point in the future.

It can be as simple as, “If we undertake this particular proposal today, we can save money with these three upcoming projects.” This is an example of creating a natural scarcity or urgency in the corporate environment.

If you’re offering a product or service during your presentation, there are other mechanisms that you can use. You can use the story or the fact that the clients’ competitors are already doing and taking up your product or service offering to take an advantage and a leap in the market. Or, it could be as simple as that there is an end-of-month offer that expires in seven days’ time.

Scarcity has to be authentic and genuine. When you create an authentic scarcity, your audience is much more likely to be persuaded and influenced to act now.



We have covered six principles of the psychology of persuasion. These six mechanisms, when applied correctly, will make your next presentation more persuasive. Your ability to influence an audience will be greatly increased if you will follow the psychology principles that Dr. Robert Cialdini has discussed in his book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. In this short video, we’ve shown and talked about how you can take those principles and.


If you want help developing an influential and persuasive presentation, you want help becoming the trusted leader in your field, the authority, then check out the Public Speaking Skills Academy. I have a range of communication and sales authority positioning programmes that will help you improve your ability to communicate and help you become the authority in your field. Check them out at the

About The Author

Mark Kyte

Mark Kyte is a public speaking mentor and founder of the Public Speaking Skills Academy. Mark loves helping clients achieve dynamic results that help them increase their influence and get more clients. Read more of his blog and if you like what you see check out the mentoring programs.