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Attractiveness and communication
The concept of persuasion dates back to Aristotle and Plato, but more recent studies have focused on the attractiveness of the person delivering the message. It is important to note that attractiveness is far more than the visual appeal.
Although the factors influencing the effectiveness of persuasive communications used during WWI and WWII attracted the attention of many academics, and it was not until the 1950’s that a comprehensive attempt to conduct controlled research into persuasion was undertaken.
The project was the Yale Communication Research Program under the direction of Carl Hovland. The framework comprised of:
- Who – the source of the message
- What – the message
- Whom – the audience
- What effect – changes in the dependant variables
These four steps were to become the basis for individual research and theories. The first project focused on the effects of source and message manipulation. This process is the method most commonly used by Public Relations practitioners when writing a media release or story.
The Yale research found that the perceived credibility of the source was found to be a function of two major factors;
- Expertness – directly related to factors such as age, experience, knowledge and possession of specialised skills.
- Trustworthiness – The trait of deserving trust and confidence.
Source attractiveness was also found to add to the credibility of the source along with similarity, familiarity, and liking.
A person can be influenced by persuasive messages to the extent that they perceive that it is coming from someone like himself or herself. On a one-to-one basis, this concept is commonly used by those familiar with active listening and reflecting on the language and body language of the other person.
Putting this concept into practice, just think how persuasive and interesting a presentation can be when the presenter really understands the topic and engages with the entire audience. Some of the best radio announcers are considered to be “at their best” when they relate to the entire audience as if they are taking to each person individually (eg on the phone).
Put some of these concepts into place when you next present and shine!