Do you ever walk into a meeting feeling totally unprepared? It happens to me all the time. Even if I do my homework before a meeting I still fall flat. I’m not particularly adept at face to face persuasion. As an introvert, I prefer to think about what I want to say and how I want to say it.
Today, I was pushed into a meeting without time to prepare. Without my usual prep I felt like a sitting duck. Letting others do most of the talking helped. Still, a question came up requiring my attention. The spotlight was on. I needed to chime in but failed to offer any value.
I covered up my deficiencies by using some fancy jargon that other people in the room didn’t know. It seemed to shut people up when I needed it most. That’s how you level the playing field. You just make everyone else feel as dumb as you. That’s not something I teach. It’s just something I do.
My meager skills at face to face meetings drove my desire to become a persuasive writer. When we write we have time to prepare and craft our words with care. We can choose the strategies and words that lay out our best case. We can research the points where we lack clarity. Finally, we can tinker and polish our work until it reaches its maximum potential.
That’s the upside of persuasive writing. Now, the downside.
No margin for error
In a face to face meeting or even a telephone discussion you can clarify, reword and adjust based on feedback. In persuasive writing that rarely exists. You must get it right the first time. In face to face meetings normal people won’t walk out of a room when they don’t like what you say. In persuasive writing it’s all too easy to click away and do something else.
No matter how amazing you write, you cannot control outside distractions. The person reading your piece gets interrupted with a phone call or knock on the door. That is outside your control. What you can control is making your writing so captivating that the recipient brushes off those distractions so he can read your piece. That’s persuasive writing at its best.
Countless books and courses are available on handling objections. Guess what? In writing, you must bring up and answer all objections. You can’t ignore them. You can’t sweep them under the rug.
In short, when you write for persuasion you enjoy the luxury of preparation and polishing. In face to face sales you may face situations you failed to anticipate. A skilled salesman works around those challenges. The single biggest advantage salesman enjoy over writers is the ability to react.
Writers must get it right the first time. That’s what makes it magical when it works.