If you’re a PR pro, chances are you got into this biz because people have been telling you all your life that you have a way with words. Most of us are very good speakers and writers. Words are our friends. If we’re such great communicators, then, why is it that so many in our profession are still bemoaning their lack of access to and influence in the C-suite?
It turns out you need a lot more going for you than mad oratorical skills to gain influence. You need the Three Part Way, grasshoppers.
Chris Yonker has studied the art of influence for years. He has built a highly successful consulting practice by teaching everyone from Fortune 500 executives to athletes and creative professionals how to persuade and gain the trust of their clients and audiences. Chris’s methods are informed by the self- mastery techniques he learned during years of training in the martial art of Sanchin Ryu, or “three battles.” Influencing others, he says, “involves aligning how you think, how you feel, and what you do as much as what you say. So the key is to maintain harmony in your mental, emotional and physical states when you’re attempting to do it.” Hence, the Three Part Way.
In his talk at PRSA’s Spring Counselors Academy, “Mastering Influence: The Art of Getting People on Board,” Chris will share some of his best tips for helping PR agency leaders and their principals become trusted advisors to their clients, build rapport with prospects, and secure better quality, long term engagements that guarantee more time working on strategy with company leaders.
Influence, Chris says, begins with your mindset. “Your goal should be to navigate clients’ decision making processes so that they can clearly see how they’ll benefit. If they ask you for a quick fix solution when you know that a more holistic, strategic, longer-term one is the better way to go, you’ll have to begin the process of persuading them to accept your approach by asking lots of questions and getting a handle on their thought processes. Once you’ve made it clear that you have heard and really understand their position, you can offer convincing, concrete alternatives that will help them achieve their goals.”
Quite often, Chris notes, even pros will ruin a perfect pitch or fail to maintain control over an editorial board meeting because of subtle, non-verbal cues that undermine them. Body language, tone, and even the way one breathes can have a dramatic impact on persuasiveness and audience receptivity. “The ‘mirror and match’ technique is one we’re all taught but many times forget to employ. It has to be subtle. Remember that tension is unconscious, but relaxation is conscious. If a person or an audience is in a negative state, you have to change that and learn how to shift the energy in the room from chaos to calm before you start communicating a single thing.”
Who does Chris think is a world class influencer? “Richard Branson,” he states without hesitation. “He’s authentically true to himself, and people connect with that. He sells ideas as passionately as he does his products.” U2’s Bono is another one of Chris’s exemplars of effortless influence.
After my conversation with Chris, I’m very much intrigued by his approach and looking forward to seeing him in the Florida Keys May 4 – 6. Join me at PRSA’s Counselors Academy Conference and learn more about Chris at www.chrisyonker.com.