By Gino Blefari
President & CEO
Intero Real Estate Services, Inc.

“A man’s character is revealed by his speech”

The first step toward becoming a persuasive person is to become a great listener which is something we discussed here a few weeks ago.  Eventually, though, it will be your turn to talk, which requires another set of skills, starting with eye contact.  This skill can make or break a conversation in an instant.  It can be the difference between making a sale or walking away empty-handed.  It is one of those abilities that few people actually do well, but is important when honing your ability to persuade.

When you speak to someone one-on-one, a good rule of thumb that I try to use is to focus on the person’s eyes 85% of the time.  Focus any longer than that, the experts say, and too much pressure is put on the listener.   You, as the speaker, could be perceived as too intense.  The experts also say keeping your eyes on the person 100% of the time can be intimidating, almost threatening, which would not help with the ultimate goal of persuasion.

When I’m speaking in a group, one of the techniques I learned in a two-day course on giving the perfect presentation (Fire Up Your Presentations & Fire Up Your Results, by Tom McCarthy) was to lean forward, keep your hands above your waist and focus on one person at a time.  It makes it as though you are having several one-on-one conversations.  Be sure to limit your eye contact with each person to no more than 4 seconds.  This helps to reach out and include people in the conversation.  The goal is to have the listener feel the power of your warmth and attention.  One little trick I use to help with this is to look long enough at a person to register the color of their eyes.

You might try practicing this skill with anyone you talk to.  Look at the other person’s eyes no more than 75-85% of the time.  Look deep into their eyes rather than just at the surface.

This is a great place to start a better conversation and become a more persuasive person.

To learn more about the art of persuasion, check out The Power of Charm, by Brian Tracy and Ron Arden.