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Part I: About Persuasion > The Difference between Skills and Strategies

Chapter 4. The Difference between Skills and Strategies

  1. Think about the ways in which effective communication is like a game. Assume that people are involved, and that they will follow the basic rules of the game or situation, even though they are competing.

  2. Both in games and in communication we must master the fundamental skills and abilities. In football, we would have to learn passing, catching, blocking, and tackling; in golf, we would have to learn the correct stance, grip, and swing for various clubs. In communication, the fundamentals include organizing, using evidence and visual aids, learning effective posture and gestures, and so on.

  3. Perhaps most important for success—in both games and communication is that we have to think in terms of the larger picture in order to use the appropriate strategy in a given situation. In football, we need to know when it’s better to advance the ball ourselves, and when it’s better to give it to a teammate. In golf, we need to know when to “play safe” and when to take a risky shot. In communication, we need to know which abilities to use in a particular situation.

    For example, all communicators know that it’s important to establish credibility as a speaker or writer—but when do we do that by showing how we’re like our audience, and when should we do that by showing how unlike our audience we are? That’s strategy!

    Similarly, all good communicators know that having support for our claims is important—but when should we use statistics, when should we use the testimony of experts, and when should we use examples, case studies, or anecdotes? That’s strategy!

    Experience, teaching, or self-improvement study, give you important opportunities to learn important communication skills. This book will teach you larger organizing patterns—strategies—that will guide you to use your communication skills more effectively and persuasively in different situations and with different audiences.


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