The Art of Change Skills for Life

Ideas. Insight. Inspiration.

Is there any point in repeating what you’ve already said?

December 1, 2008 Persuasion 1

Today’s key to the art of persuasion is found in the power of repetition. 

ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) is the official brain syndrome for the modern age.   Increasingly, we talk and text in acronyms, because people already have TMI (too much information.)  And, FYI (for your information,) it helps if you pre-digest what you say to help people save calories and effort when you’re trying to break through their brain fog.  The most profound ideas must now be presented in sound bytes if they have any hope of cutting through the chatter and competition.  And it is also true that immediately after hearing a sound byte, there is always more information coming up close behind.  Yet holding attention and getting a message across are not mutually exclusive ideas.  Repetition makes it possible to make what you say more meaningful. 

People in the advertising business understand this.  They say it takes upwards of seven exposures to an idea before a person internalizes it.  They call this ‘building response potential.’  Essentially this means that you have to see that silly talking gecko at least seven times before they’ve successfully wedged it into your brain. 

Repetition will help you get your ideas to Click!  Not by saying the same exact thing the same way over and over.  That gets old fast.  Instead, you say the same thing over in a new way.  Our poor befuddled brains crave novelty.  When you repeat an idea using different words, it gives people the idea that they are hearing something new, while reinforcing what they’ve already heard.   The result?  You’ll get greater attention, interest, comprehension and consideration when you give people different ways of hearing the same thing. 

There are all kinds of ways to say this.  Because all this means it that it’s a good thing to find another way to say something. Put another way, you can put your idea in a different frame of reference, or say the same words in a different order.  Somehow, say the same thing differently, and express the same idea another way.  I’m saying that you can restate it in order to repeat it.  Get it?    This is exactly what you are doing when you back up your point with an example. Restating your idea in different ways creates the impression that people are hearing something new, while all that’s really happening is that you are reinforcing the same idea.   It’s like that motto at Crazy Larry’s Diner: “Our food is tasty, yet delicious!”

However, as in all things related to persuasion, a little goes a long way.  Keep it within reason.  Too much repetition yields frustration and aggravation. You don’t want to become the kid in the back seat asking “Are we there yet? …Are we there yet? …Are we there yet?” 

I’d love to hear your comments about the use of repetition, or abuse of it, in your persuasion experience.
be well
Rick

 

One Response

  1. J.D. Meier says:

    I agree with repetition big time.

    At work, I’ve found some people need to warm up to ideas, and they warm up to them simply by hearing them over again in new ways. To make them sticky though, I do try to have a metaphor or simple, catchy token that helps both connect an emotional response and make it easy to rehydrate the point down the line.

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