Remote Persuasion: How to Be a Successful Communicator While Working From Home

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As social distancing becomes the new normal throughout the world, professionals across industries have to make drastic and immediate changes to their work and presentation styles. With the total transition to working from home, business leaders, lawyers, and sales and marketing teams are navigating new terrain: effectively communicating to achieve a desired outcome while working remotely.

There’s no replacement for the energy and connection a face-to-face interaction can create, but we have to work with what we’ve got. Social distancing doesn’t mean persuasion comes to a halt.

Besides, remote work was a rising trend before the COVID-19 pandemic, growing by 173 percent between 2005 and 2018. With so many additional businesses moving to telecommuting for the time being, it’s safe to assume that remote work will be even more broadly adopted in the years to come. It’s a good idea for professionals to get ahead of the curve and start learning how to communicate effectively in remote environments today.

Stick to the Basics

Even through a remote connection, the basics of persuasion apply. It’s vital that you do your homework and learn about the decision-maker with whom you’ll be speaking. What are your target’s demographic details? Do they have any special interests?

Of course, beyond their personal information, you should also look into their needs and pain points. Uncovering these will help you demonstrate to your decision-maker that you understand their goals, even if you can’t see them in person. Establishing a strong sense of understanding will help you build trust and allow you to position yourself as an advisor. This trust will be critical for remote persuasion.

Just because you aren’t meeting face-to-face doesn’t mean you can skip the groundwork you would regularly complete. If anything, you’ll need to establish an even stronger bond to persuade via remote means, so flex your research talents and learn about your target.

Leverage Technology

Working from home can create another level of separation between yourself and your target, but thankfully, technology has progressed leaps and bounds when it comes to interpersonal communication. You should leverage your entire technology suite to help you persuade remotely.

Tools such as Zoom and Skype allow your audience to see your face, establishing some much-needed personal connection. Use visuals to lead your decision-maker to your desired conclusion. Create polished presentations to either show via conference call or email ahead of your meeting.

You might also consider incorporating a video presentation into your pitch, as video can provide a unique storytelling opportunity that promotes a strong emotional connection between you and your decision-maker. In a survey conducted by Prezi, nearly 90 percent of participants indicated a strong narrative was critical in maintaining their attention. Engagement with your story is more important than ever, as you’ll now be competing with additional distractions, including family and pets.

Develop a Style

Personal energy exchange is very difficult via a computer screen. You must first determine who you are as a presenter in this new medium.

How can you be more dynamic in a remote environment? Before jumping on a conference call, practice by recording yourself and playing it back to see how you present on camera. Think this is taking it too far? Consider the first time you had to leave a professional voicemail. It took time to sharpen the skills necessary to communicate your needs in a brief message, and you’re probably a pro now! The same is true for online presentations. It might take a few rounds to get comfortable, but at this point in your career, there’s no time to fumble. Practice makes perfect!

Be Memorable

Would you do a face-to-face meeting and not follow up? Absolutely not! Follow the same principle with your remote connections.

Think about ways your follow-up can stand out from the crowd. How about sending an old-school, handwritten thank-you note? With personal connection minimized right now, this could be a great way to brighten your customer’s day and build trust. Just make sure you send it to the correct address: If your customer is also working from home, a note to the office will get lost in the shuffle.

While many professionals are used to persuading through face-to-face interactions, the current climate calls for new tactics. Just because you can’t meet in person with your decision-makers doesn’t mean you can’t still do your job. Effective persuasion via remote connection is possible.

By following the basic principles of persuasion, leveraging your technology suite, setting aside time to practice, and developing ways to be memorable, you give yourself a strong chance of reaching your desired outcome. While remote persuasion may take a bit more effort and preparation, you can get the results you seek if you take the time and keep these guidelines in mind.

Juliet Huck  is founder of the Academy of Persuasion.

By Juliet Huck