4 Key Persuasion Lessons From Mad Men's 'Carousel Scene'

In this short video there are four key lessons to be learnt about how we can use our voice, body language, emotional connection and storytelling to be more persuasive when communicating something to people:

1. Use of Voice

Notice how Don Draper talks very slowly and relaxed and has many pauses in between statements to let the point sink in.

Pauses create tension. Signals to the audience that something important is being said. By speaking slow it communicates the speaker is relaxed and being calm and relaxed is a key part of persuading others.

Draper also shows his emotion with the images on the screen of his family. This makes a emotional connection with the audience. Winston Churchill said it best:

“Before you can inspire with emotion, you must be swamped with it yourself. Before you can move their tears, your own must flow. To convince them, you must yourself, believe.”

2. Use of Body Language

Draper uses eye contact and expressions to hit home key points. By holding eye contact with people it makes the audience feel that he is talking to them specifically.

Eye contact is one of the easiest and most powerful ways to make a person feel recognized, understood and validated. Connected.

Eye contact makes your words more memorable long after you’re done talking, maintain good eye contact. This was the finding of a joint study between the University of Wolverhampton and the University of Stirling.

3. Emotional Connection

Draper's whole pitch is focused on making an emotional connection with the audience. The way we all make decisions is on an emotional leve first and that comes from our unconsious brain structures. Emotions are actually a phyiscal reaction. Our face reacts, heart beats faster, adrenalin in the blood, sweaty palms etc. There are only six emotions.

The second part of making a decsion is all about Trust. This is all about our conscious brain, our cerebal cortex. If we feel that we want to do something on a emotional level our rational thinking kicks in and says - hang on a minute, what evidence do we have that this is a good idea, that its possible or can we trust the person telling us this.

In business communication, lots of people focus on the rational argument, the reason why you can trust us. But that important emotional connection step is key if you want to truly persuade someone.

4. Use of Storytelling

Notice how Draper doesn't just say that this is correct he tells the story of an ex-colleague who was older and wiser who told him what this means. The use of story is powerful becuase it helps create that all important emotional connection and creates an emotional memory.

That's why storytelling is powerful. It creates an emotional memory around a belief of the future possibility you create for them. This emotional memory is then recalled at the moment of decsion. You remember how you felt about the story.

Thats why I buy Nike gear, because they tell me I can be a better athlete. They don't tell me about the shoe and how it compares to the competition.

Draper then also uses family photos to hit home the point about how the carousel is a time machine and how it creates nostalgia.

The use of voice, body language, emotion and story is a potent combination when you want to create an emotional memory and persuade someone.


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