Professional development

How knowing the four types of persuasion will help you nail the perfect pitch

- June 29, 2022 5 MIN READ
Michelle Bowden

Michelle Bowden is a passionate educator and author whose new book, How To Persuade, teaches us how to build on our persuasive strengths and weaknesses to get what we want in business and life. She joined editor Cec Busby on the Flying Solo podcast to share some of the secrets to the ‘perfect pitch’ and the power of persuasion.

Known as Australia’s leading authority on communicating persuasively to achieve results, Michelle Bowden is an expert in persuasive presenting and business.

Her new book, How To Persuade, is about identifying our persuasive strengths and weaknesses so that we can build our confidence and skills in the art of getting what we want – whether it’s a business pitch or any other area of life.

“There are four main approaches or ‘types’ to persuading others, and most humans are strong in two approaches and weaker in the other two,” says Michelle. “Now, why would you even care to know this about yourself? We’ve worked out that each of the four types has ten actions or behaviours. And if you can become good at all 40 of them, then you will be consistently persuasive.”

Michelle Bowden

Michelle Bowden, author and persuasive speaking expert

“After about 20 years of research, I launched a psychometric assessment tool, a bit like the Myers Briggs or DISC assessment. My psych assessment is called the Persuasion Smart Profile®. It assesses your strengths and weaknesses when persuading other people at work. Then the psychometric assessment tool looks at the Persuasion Smart Profile® and gives you an 11-page report that describes where you’re strong and where you’re weak.

“My new book, How To Persuade, takes it to the next step. The book explains the ten actions for each of those types and gives you activities to get strong in each of the ten actions,” Michelle explains. “It’s really the how-to guide for the skills you need to get what you want.”

The four types of persuasive personalities

In How To Persuade, Michelle describes the four persuasive archetypes with a clever and easy-to-recall analogy – well-known birds.

“To make it a bit easier to understand than some of those existing processes like ‘introvert/extrovert’ or ‘thinker/feeler’, we decided to allocate a bird to each of the four approaches,” Michelle explains.

Owl with head tilted looking at camera

1. The Wise Owl

“Wise Owls are driven to persuade by establishing message credibility. The owl symbolises subject matter expertise; they are rational and want a structured and logical argument. The Wise Owl is someone who’s thinking about the matter carefully in a considered way. Credibility is their number one thing.”

2. The Commanding Eagle

“Commanding Eagles are driven to persuade by conveying personal authority. These are the people who walk into a room and own the space. You’re not going to argue with them because you trust they know the best way forward.”

3. The Friendly Budgie

“The Friendly Budgie is driven to persuade by establishing goodwill. Budgies are the world’s most common bird pet – the Budgie cares a lot about their stakeholder and is very likeable. It’s about the famous quote from Theodore Roosevelt: ‘People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care’. Budgies are people you want to be persuaded by; you want to spend time with them because they make you feel good.”

4. The Captivating Peacock

“The Captivating Peacock is driven to persuade by sweeping you up with their arousing enthusiasm and passion. The Peacock is dancing; it’s flashing its feathers, it’s saying, ‘Look at me!’. They captivate everybody because they’re passionate, confident, impressive and charismatic in every way.”

“The Peacock and Budgie are what we call ‘charismatic’ types,” Michelle highlights. “They’re people who are good at connecting with you, impressing you, having you like them. In contrast, the Owl and Eagle are what we call ‘credibility’ types. The Owl is interested in facts and research – the external proof has to be there for them to be persuaded by you. Eagles are more interested in personal credibility and authority – whether you’ve got the runs on the board, and you can be considered the trusted authority in this matter.”

Listen to Michelle Bowden on the Flying Solo podcast:

Three steps to nailing your pitch

So, you’ve identified which ‘birds’ you might be and started to work on your weaknesses, but how do you put this knowledge into practice in your pitch? Michelle says it comes down to becoming ‘persuasion smart’.

“There are a few steps to becoming persuasion smart,” Michelle reveals.

“Step one is to know yourself; where are you strong and weak? You must build your persuasive muscles and develop your capability across all four approaches to be consistently persuasive.

“Step two is to identify the persuasive types in your stakeholder because you’re not trying to persuade yourself, you’re trying to persuade them. It’s about working out which bird they are. There’s a big focus on storytelling in the corporate world, but people forget that it’s not just about you and your story. It’s all about what the audience needs to hear and making it about them. A powerful persuader takes their audience on an emotional journey. What is their pain? What is their challenge? What is their frustration, and how does the thing you are pitching solve that problem? Being fully in your audience or stakeholder’s shoes makes you more persuasive.

“Step three is about flexing your style and personality and being your authentic self. Body language is critical because if you’re trying to sell something you don’t believe in, or are not quite sure what the client or the prospect’s looking for, your body language will give you away.

“Whatever nonsense is coming out of your mouth, you’ll know it’s nonsense, and your face will have a funny expression, or your smile won’t come out authentically. It causes an unconscious response where people think, ‘I didn’t want to buy from that person, but I can’t tell you why’. It was nonsense, and the body language gave it away. Captivating Peacocks are very good at ensuring that their body language is congruent with their message.”

Michelle’s first book, How To Present, is a bestseller, so we do not doubt that her second tome will be just as essential reading for those who want to nail the perfect pitch and the power of persuasion.

Book cover: ‘How To Persuade’ by Michelle Bowden

Click here to pre-order How To Persuade – available in all good bookstores in August.

michelle bowden podcast

Michelle delved deeply into lots more top tips for persuasive presenting and nailing your pitch in this informative Flying Solo episode. Listen to the full podcast now.


Listen to the latest episode of the Flying Solo podcast now:

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