Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending a PM Forum event on The art of influence & the power of persuasion, facilitated by Michael Flemming (KWC Legal). One thing he covered that I thought was fantastic was the Four Stages of a Persuasion Meeting.  My interpretation of a persuasion meeting is any encounter with another person where you are trying to get them to see your point of view. This could be; a sales pitch, awkward pay rise discussions, holiday requests or conversation with a stubborn sibling who won't do their dishes... The point is regardless of your livelihood, we all encounter them. So what is this process?

1. Build rapport - Try to find common ground.  Good preparation is key, Michael stressed the point "the clever stuff happens outside of the room". Do your research. The internet is an excellent tool for this and social platforms are a great way to find out about a persons experiences and interests.

2. Listen and Learn - Its important to ask questions, and even more important to listen to the answers. The old gem from Epictetus “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” Essentially you need to be able to understand their view. 

3. Give them your "Pitch" -  Again preparation is vital to this stage (clever stuff outside the room...). You must be able to back up your ideas or suggestions with facts and evidence. It's also important to articulate why YOUR idea would be of benefit to THEM.

4. Closing - This is where you want to establish an outcome or way to advance.  Always be prepared for objections, and before you go into the meeting make sure you've got an answer. If you are repeating a similar meeting, e.g in sales, take stock of the objections you get so you can handle them better in the future. Try to establish what outcomes are realistic. And always think through the BATNAs (best alternative to negotiated agreement)

In summary, the key to successful persuasion meeting is to follow the process - be flexible with it. And always do your preparation. Remeber the clever stuff happens outside the room.