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How Long Should You Take in Preparing to Persuade?


Techniques Persuasion 101 > How Long Should You Take in Preparing to Persuade?

Description | Example | Discussion | See also



When preparing to persuade a person, you need to make a number of decisions. One of the most important of these is how long you are prepared to take getting ready to persuade.

In many situations, the obvious answer is that you do not want to spend long pondering how you will persuade. Sometimes you simply do not have the time, such as when you are in a hurry or are faced with an impatient other person. The benefit from the persuasion may also be relatively small and hence may not be worth the effort of  additional research. Or perhaps you are simply happy with your understanding of the person and the situation and do not need to research more (although this can of course prove problematic later).

In other situations, you may need to take time before interacting with the target person (or group), researching more and preparing what you will say and do. This is typical when the stakes are higher, for example in sales, negotiations, teaching and other professional situations. It can also be a good idea in more domestic situations where it is easy to dive into a persuasion only to be rebuffed when you insult the other party or otherwise find your persuasive strategy is less effective than you might have hoped.

Overall, you should at least pause before diving into a persuasion and consider the value in preparatory activities.

Preparation for persuasion can include:

  • Researching the other person, their personality, needs and wants
  • Considering what you really want to achieve from this activity
  • Deciding on how you will go about persuading, including how long you may need to take


After previous failures, parent decides to spend a little more time in preparing to persuade a child to do their homework. This includes devising questions that should elicit a more helpful response and basing reward on proof of completion.

A teacher prepares the detail of lessons. She also asks other teachers about how the class and individuals within it may behave. She builds a careful yet adaptive lesson plan that includes distinct stages and assessment of student understanding.


One of the most common mistakes in persuasion is being in too much of a hurry. This can be exacerbated by wrongly guessing what the other person is thinking and overconfidence in your ability to persuade.

Even in situations where you or they are in a hurry, it can pay to slow things down and assume less. A good tip is to find extra time, even if you don't think you need it. Also, when the persuasion is clearly going wrong, be ready to take a timeout to regroup and rethink.

See also

Sales Prospecting, Elegant Negotiables, Customer Analysis, Diagnosing Change


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