MT Expert's Ten Top Tips: How to influence people who matter

Want to talk your way to the top? Christopher Barrat explains how...

by Christopher Barrat
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Having the ability to influence people effectively is a critical skill in the modern business world. In fact, as Rebekah Brooks’ uncanny ability to cling on to her job demonstrated, having strong allies is helpful when the storm hits. The Murdochs could easily have cut her loose, but to save her, they closed an entire paper.

That’s not the only reason, though: these days, the people you need things from rarely report to you, so gently influencing, rather than using power and authority, is a far more useful way to persuade people to give you what you want.

MT asked communications expert Christopher Barrat for his ten top tips on becoming a powerful influencer:

1. Speak their language
It may not be your natural way of communicating, but use words and phrases to fit the person you are talking to. If they’re data freaks, lead with the numbers; if they’re creative types then talk images and concepts.

2. Use stories and analogies
We remember stories far more than facts.  You want your influence to last, so if you can tell them a story or use analogies, these are more likely to stick in their minds.

3. Remember: every moment is a chance to influence people
The best influencers don’t rely on a single moment of brilliance; they’re using every point of contact to nudge people towards their way of thinking.

4. Develop the right attitude
We all know that most of what we communicate comes from non-verbal signals. These are hard to consciously control so instead, start with the right mindset and the non-verbals will then come out in the right way. If you’re frustrated with the person you’re trying to influence, you have to get a different head on by the time you talk to them.
5. Match and mirror
This is now scientifically proven to work – the more you sit/stand/gesture and intonate your voice to match the style of the person you are talking to, the more they’ll like you and trust you.

6. Use your network
Indirect support can be very effective. Find out who your target might be talking to and influence them towards supporting your line of thinking.

7. Make a virtue of necessity
If there’s a touchy topic, be the first to get it out on the table: this shows you’ve thought about their potential concerns.

8. Understanding isn’t acceptance
If your target has objections or concerns, show you understand them – it’s perfectly OK to let them know you can see things from their point of view without agreeing with them.

9. Tune into WII FM
Everyone broadcasts this – ‘what’s in it for me?’ Make sure you’ve shaped your request in a way that shows there’s something in it for them – it doesn’t have to be much.

10. Find common goals and establish points you can agree with early on
Often, people agree on goals, but disagree over how to achieve them. Find some level of common ground and lead with this, so the first thing they’re doing in the conversation is agreeing with you – a great starting point for an influencing strategy.

- Christopher Barrat is a motivational speaker and communications expert to those in the public eye.  He can be contacted at

- Image credit: Flickr/estimmel

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