Tell them what you’re going to say. Tell them. Tell them what you told them.
This was the presentation guidance I was given in an undergraduate persuasion course. It’s easy to remember, but difficult to practice because it doesn’t feel additive or novel. Yet, it works because of the simplicity. The rule taps into the concept of repetition, an effective persuasive technique used by the likes of politicians, advertisers, and writers.
Jeremy Dean writes on PsyBlog, “As we are exposed to a message again and again, it becomes more familiar. Because of the way our minds work, what is familiar is also true. Familiar things require less effort to process and that feeling of ease unconsciously signals truth (this is called cognitive fluency).”
Repetition is a communication technique that travels well across contexts. Once you start thinking about it, you notice it everywhere.
During my time at Our State Magazine, the publisher Bernie Mann would share an anecdote or guiding principle in his monthly sales team meeting to motivate the group. In one meeting, he cavalierly leaned back and said, “You know, I told my wife I loved her the day we got married.” He paused with a sly grin and his signature sarcasm, “Can you believe she expects me to tell her that every day?” The room groaned.
He laughed and followed up with a lesson: “You can’t tell someone you appreciate them once and expect them to stay around. If you aren’t continually talking to your clients and letting them know you appreciate their business, you’ll lose it.”
Bad jokes and sarcasm aside, he was right. While there are many forms of repetition, expressing appreciation is one of the most important uses. It is never wasted effort. We win in business by showing clients and customers that we care about them over time. We build meaningful personal relationships through ongoing affection and attention.