Changing minds: A guide to being persuasive

Almost anybody you speak to about being persuasive these days will tell you the rule of 55 percent body language, 38 percent tone of voice and seven percent actual words. What if I were to tell you that this phrase actually comes from a study dated back to 1967 and the research that was undertaken is almost irrelevant in today’s business landscape?

Technical PR agency
We change minds
I recently picked up on a blog post by one of my favourite social media sharing apps, Buffer - which was all about the psychology of the English language. The post featured a research project conducted at UCL (University College London).

The blog post states that, in the research, subjects were asked to listen to a recording of a woman’s voice saying the word ‘maybe’, three different ways to convey liking, neutrality, and disliking.

They were also shown photos of the woman’s face conveying the same three emotions. They were then asked to guess the emotions heard in the recorded voice, seen in the photos, and then both together.

And guess what? The subjects correctly identified the emotions 50 percent more often from the photos than from the voice.

That’s a pretty obvious outcome if you ask me. However, what seems unclear is how the research defines the language used as only being seven percent effective based on the information given in one word. I think that the research underestimates the power of the written word and I’m sure that some of Stone Junction’s clients will also agree.

Stone Junction provides articles for its clients in their key media sectors and is often made aware of business leads generated from the published pieces. There’s no smiley faces or body language involved in the process at all!

Buffer’s blog post recommends some simple but effective techniques such as smiling, avoiding adjectives in speech and writing, talking for no longer than 30 seconds in any given conversation and removing excessive use of ‘is’ in writing.

What do you think? Is the 1967 research past its sell by date or still very much accurate?

You can read the full post from Buffer here.

Image courtesy of Mr Lightman on

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Ashleigh McLeod

Stone Junction is a cool technical PR agency based in Stafford. We work for all sorts of businesses, with a particular focus on technology, technical and engineering companies. We like being sent cake and biscuits by clients, journalists and prospects.

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