The difference between informing and influencing

by Daniel Batten on March 31, 2011

You have probably ridden on a train.

But have you ever been at a train station, when the train didn’t stop for you? And if you haven’t,  how would you imagine you’d feel?

But isn’t that the way most people communicate their ideas, products, sales pitches, vision, political views or message to you? All the emphasis is placed on them delivering their train of talk, without opening their doors to invite you to come on board?

How often have you actually genuinely felt (especially in business) that the driver of a message stopped and invited you on board with their train of thought, or train of talk? How often have you felt that you being on board mattered?

Those that do this are, by definition, leaders. But there are not many of them.

One side-effect of the “information age” is that people with a message tend to feel happy once their message is delivered. But imagine if the definition of a successful train ride meant that the train got from point A to point B as efficiently as possible.

It could do that in record time without ever opening its doors. All that has been achieved here is that some people have seen a train – but not been moved by it.

One side-effect of the “information age” is that all the emphasis has gone on delivering content (the train of thought, or the train of talk itself)– not on whether that content results in anyone coming on board.

If you are content to speak, and have people frustrated by you, tune out while you speak, and forget you and your message soon after – then this type of communication will be good enough for you.

But if you want even one person to do anything at all with what you say then you need to learn to leverage the power of your trains of thought, your information, your intellectual capital, your product or service, your skills, so that anyone you want at any time can get on board with your message.

A good place to start is to remember that only 7% of the efficacy of communication is the actual words. Focus on pausing more so people have time to come on board, tell a story so they’ll want to, and use analogies so they can quickly assess what something you need them to assess quickly is all about.

Spend more time with people who do this well already, and look for how a few small tweaks can be the difference between you informing someone, and influencing them to do something with your words.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

juliet March 31, 2011 at 6:47 pm

Nice analogy Daniel. You got me on board your train and I enjoyed the ride, thanks.

Trinda Latherow April 8, 2011 at 3:01 pm

7% Words, 93% Heart and Soul. 😉
Thanks for all your messages Daniel.
Nice to meet and make a connection.
All the best,

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