Artful Persuasion: How to Command Attention, Change Minds, and Influence People

By Harry Mills | Go to book overview

CHAPTER
9
Winning
People's Minds

How to Structure and
Package Your Message

K.I.S.S.: KEEP IT SHORT AND SIMPLE

The Principle of Selective Attention

Most presenters overwhelm their audiences by drowning them in tidal waves of information. Human beings are simply incapable of absorbing, let alone remembering, the masses of data they are bombarded with every day.

Advertisers talk about the principle of selective attention, which says that consumers ignore most messages and focus their attention on a few key messages, usually one at a time. If you want to persuade, the message is: Limit the number of points you want to make; three to five are plenty.


Keep it Short

In our information-saturated world, the greatest mistake we make when persuading is to drown our audience in a sea of words. “It is better to be brief than tedious,” wrote Shakespeare. Franklin Roosevelt offered similar advice: “Be sincere. Be brief. Be seated.” Consider the great speeches of history. Abraham Lincoln took less than three minutes to read the 269 words of his Gettysburg Address. Churchill took less than two and a half minutes to deliver

“The real message isn't what you say. It's what the other person remembers.”

— Harry Mills

-133-

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