Principles Of Persuasion: Bill McGowan’s 7 Secrets For Saying The Right Words, Every Time

These days I receive a great number of books for prospective review. Very few make a major impact, but the book I received this week—Pitch Perfect: How To Say It Right The First Time, Every Time had my attention from the word “go.” Due April 1, Pitch Perfect is the product of two-time Emmy Award winning correspondent and communications pro Bill McGowan, who’s reported some 700 televised stories and anchored hundreds of hours of news (his credits include ABC News 20/20, A Current Affair, Dow Jones and CBS News).

McGowan currently makes his career as a communications strategist to C-level executives and entertainers. Eli Manning, Kelly Clarkson, Jack Welch and Kenneth Cole are some of the personalities he’s advised. As the CEO of Clarity Media he coaches companies such as Dropbox, Facebook, AirBnB and Salesforce.com. This, I admit, is a career path I envy. I confess to reading the proof copy of Bill’s book from cover to cover the minute it arrived at my door.

McGowan had my attention and I believe he’ll gain yours as well. Why? Because of all of the necessary attributes for launching and running a business, communications skills really matter to entrepreneurs.

I loved the stories he told, such as media coaching Sheryl Sandberg at Facebook (spoiler alert—he flubbed the address and arrived at the cherished appointment time incredibly late). He also shared the tale of staking out a small-town prospect for multiple days for A Current Affair before the magic moment he was able to confront his protagonist face to face while the cameras rolled. Whether you love investigative reporting or hate it, McGowan has clearly experienced a full spectrum of the “think on your feet” moments that call for the ability to communicate instantly and well.

There are many golden nuggets in McGowan’s collection of tactics and tricks. (Conversation escapes. Apologies. Asking for favors or raises. Telling someone to ditch the smartphone while you speak.) He provides ideas for presentations and speeches. (Show crisp conviction. Keep it short. Display sheer delight.) But I was especially impressed with McGowan’s seven rules of persuasion, which for an entrepreneur, in particular, apply to us all. The rules had their genesis, McGowan says, from his many days as a correspondent and producer, perpetually winnowing thousands of video hours into the one minute segments that would make a story compelling and bring the listener’s attention alive. Initially, the “seven secrets” were simply a mental checklist for Bill until he realized after thousands of hours of video editing that nearly all winning sound bites and segments adhere to the same set of rules. So he named them. Now the Seven Principles of Persuasion are available to all, as follows:

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