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The Elements of Persuasion: Use Storytelling to Pitch Better, Sell Faster & Win More Business Hardcover – August 14, 2007

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Editorial Reviews


“The ability to persuade by spinning an intriguing narrative is an essential career skill.” (Newsweek)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: HarperBusiness; First Edition edition (August 14, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061179035
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061179037
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.9 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #236,543 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Richard Wechsler on August 30, 2007
Format: Hardcover
In The Tycoon, a recent New Yorker Magazine article about Mort Zuckerman, the billionaire communications mogul and back-channel ambassador, the author pointed to Zuckerman's skill in telling stories, some true and some anecdotal, as one of the strongest arrows in his Zuckerman's quiver as a consumate persuader and power broker.

Shortly after I read the article, I came across Maxwell and Dickman's excelent handbook, The Elements of Persuasion, a brilliant analysis of the components of every compelling story-whether it's talking a cop out of a parking ticket, getting that last stand-by seat to get to a wedding, or making a memorable presentation that doesn't end up in the PowerPoint land fill.

Maxwell and Dickman offer a five-element matrix, rooted in greek philosophy and confimed by the most recent discoveries of cognitive science, that can be used to create compelling narratives, whether simple or complex. I found this book imminently readable, entertaining and immediately applicable.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Michael P. Maslanka on August 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This short book covers some interesting territory: how the Ritz hotels interview people to get the ones they want(ask the applicant if she likes to help people, get the standard answer, "oh yes" and then spring on her, "give me an example"?); the way the Marine Corps builds their internal brand, creating a sense of one for all and all for one with their shared physical challanges and drilling; the study of mirror neurons and how they create the mental sense of empathy; the role of the antagonist in storytelling(a business can have several but make sure it is an authentic antagonist, not a straw one.) Real world apps? Do physical stuff with your employees, because like the Marines, it imparts a sense of shared struggle and feeling of one unit. Uncomfortable with your story telling skills? Go out in the forest and yell out loud your main points( some good advice---from Asian culture--- on getting to the core of your message but yelling in the woods?) Their main point though is that "stories are facts wrapped in emotion "and it must have emotion, a hero, a protagonist and transformation.' A lesson that bears repeating. While they try to impose some order on the book's contents with these key elements, it falls short. Feel free to flip though the chapters and not constrained to read through from front to back.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Liebman on October 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The authors' passion comes through loud and clear and they wrote the entire book in humorous examples of their story telling model. They walk the talk and your world will look quite different after walking with them.
Technology opened the floodgates of information but how one presents new ideas to a society drowning in data is an enormous challenge. As a college educator and Organizational Development consultant I need to be the heroic role model of communicating creative ideas and managing change. Inspiring others is my passion; digital distraction and information overload are my adversaries.
The Elements of Persuasion is truly a book about magic. It is about the magic of relating, the magic of communicating and the magic of keeping others on the edge of their seats. At my earliest opportunities I used this story telling construct and the outcome was pure magic; my entire audience actually got it. The Elements of Persuasion is now required reading for all of my students and clients.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By R on November 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Like many business books, "The Elements of Persuasion" contains pages and pages pages of case studies, many of which appeared to me to be rather weakly linked to the concept of storytelling. By the end, I was skipping over entire sections because the case studies just did not feel relevant. I was left wishing for more original content.

The authors also try to relate many concepts in the book to the elements of fire, earth, water, air, and space. These analogies seemed awkward and unnecessary at times.

Finally...I understand the "passion, hero, antagonist, awareness, transformation" concepts, but I would have liked more concrete, hands-on information on how these concepts can be integrated into corporate sales scenarios (not an unfair comment, as this is really how they are pitching the book).
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Carey on March 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Most of us would probably not identify storytelling as a business critical skill, and it is not likely to be found in the curriculum of business schools. But the authors are serious business consultants and have worked with some top-notch companies. Moreover, they don't just talk about storytelling, they practice what they preach. The book is filled with engaging, powerful stories about the impact leaders can have when they understand the power of a compelling story. They recount examples of leaders who have done this successfully, as well as some who did not - to the detriment of their shareholders.

Although this is a quick, entertaining read, it merits careful study. This is not simply a book of stories, it is a practical how-to for those struggling for a way to capture the importance of their mission, their vision, the potential of a new technology, or any other idea crucial to success. When you have finished, you will consider you critical messages in a new way, looking for the Passion, Hero, Antagonist, Awareness and Transformation that will embed your story in the listener's mind, and if successful, stir them to action. If you are a business leader, and especially if you are someone who sells products, ideas or concepts, this book belongs on your reading list.

Not all great business books are about strategy, execution, innovation, customer-focus or operational efficiency. This one is about a soft skill with hard impact. Highly recommended.
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