Pre-Suasion - Robert Cialdini

Pre-Suasion - Robert Cialdini

Learn all the secrets of persuasion and how this communication strategy can quickly transform your business into something advantageous, pleasurable and profitable.

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The book “Pre-Suasion”, by author Robert Cialdini, reveals that many times the obstacle that prevents us from highlighting our company or our product is a poorly executed message transmission, or destined for the wrong target audience.

Thus, the secret to leverage and succeed in business depends much more on how you deal minutes before your speech than the speech itself.

This successful technique is known as Pre-Persuasion and is characterized as the key moment to release mental triggers and execute a sale.

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About the book “Pre-Suasion”

The book “Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade” (2016) is about the art of influencing. Through the techniques presented by the author, all people can create a conducive environment where they can exert influence.

Based on research, Robert Cialdini shows that the most effective way to convince someone is to take advantage of the window of time prior to what you will ask.

The book also cites and analyzes a number of examples whose unethical use of this approach has had disastrous consequences.

Who is Robert Cialdini?

Robert Cialdini is known as the “father of persuasion”, having written great works that report on the business world, and collects experience in the art of convincing people. In addition to “Pre-Suasion”, he is the author of the best-selling book “Influence”.

Robert is currently a professor of Marketing and Psychology at Arizona State University.

Who should read the book of Robert Cialdini?

“Pre-Suasion” is recommended for leaders, managers, speakers, salespeople and marketing experts who want to have good rhetoric and expand their persuasion strategies.

Main ideas of the book “Pre-Suasion”

  • The maximum moment of attention is the determining factor for the purchase decision;
  • The focus of attention leads to perceptions of importance and causality;
  • The language can be developed directly as a way to produce desirable results and better performance at work;
  • Like words and images, locals can also act as associations in favor of changing attitudes;
  • The collective has a stimulating action in the pre-persuasion process;
  • Unethical actions compromise tactics and operating profits;
  • Good pre-persuasion can change behavioral science and increase the likelihood of lasting relationships.

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[Book Summary] Pre-Suasion - Robert Cialdini

Part I - Context and preparation: how to attract the listener’s attention?

In this first part of the book "Pre-Suasion", the author Robert Cialdini presents the importance of knowing how to influence people.

He explains that everyone, anywhere, every day of the week needs to convince someone of something. We all need to influence people in the direction of our point of view. Everyone wants something from someone.

Surprisingly, the content of your speech rarely determines whether it will work or not. What matters, what tips the scale, is what happens just before you perform your speech.

Context and preparation is what makes the difference!

Part II - Basic “Pre-Suasion”: what are the direct attention triggers? 

Robert Cialdini presents some techniques that show how your reactions are influenced by the information to which you've just been exposed.

According to the author, the ​​pre-suasion is built on two ideas: anchoring and preparation. This notion takes advantage of the bias that argues that we systematically rely on the first information that is offered (the anchor) to make a decision.

The preparation refers to how your attention and reactions are totally biased according to what you have just been exposed to (exposure to a stimulus influences the reaction to another stimulus).

Some examples of using these techniques are:

  • If you want the person to buy a more expensive but more comfortable option, show images of clouds before;
  • If you want people to be more achievement-oriented, give them a picture of a runner winning a race;
  • If you want people to agree to try an untested product, first ask if they consider themselves adventurous.

Part III - Heavy and Hot: what is the importance of making associations?

In this third part of the book "Pre-Suasion", the author Robert Cialdini presents the importance of metaphors in the language used.

Metaphors have a persuasive function in everyday language. "This is a heavy bar" can refer either to lifting a heavy object or to carrying out an arduous emotional task. But metaphors can also persuade nonverbally.

When a person reads a report presented on a heavier computer, the information seems to be more important, this is the pre-suasion in action: the physical presentation of a report influences the reader in their favor before they even begin to read.

Cialdini worries about the lightness of e-books - a definitive feature that can make users less value their content. The weight of a printed book gives more credibility to the message it wants to pass.

Heat also plays a part in the human judgment. Someone holding a hot cup of coffee feels greater zeal for the people around them and believes more in them.

This can serve as a hidden form of "pre-suasion".

The person holding the hot coffee - or any other hot object - will be more collaborative. Therefore, you can achieve pre-suasion even in silence.

Part IV - Commitments: how to get someone to commit?

Author Robert Cialdini talks about how to make a person commit to you.

To ensure that someone continues to act positively after giving you an initial positive response, get that person to commit.

According to the book "Pre-Suasion", doctors in England found that by calling their patients a day earlier to confirm their consultations, cancellations declined modestly. Writing the next appointments on a card also works.

However, the strongest positive effect was seen when patients themselves filled out a card in a consultation detailing the date and time of the next. This causes the patient to engage in commitment - which makes all the difference.

Part V - Preparation Associations: how to use the right words to convince?

Let us understand here how the words you use impact and influence when people will form their opinions.

Do you know what images and positive words people associate with their area of ​​expertise? This is definitive to become proficient in the art of pre-suasion.

These words and images are primary because they have "associative coherence" with desired results. For example, a fundraising team on the phone got 60% more money when a picture was placed with someone succeeding in the room they were working on.

Generally, by embedding evocative associations in an initial message, you can instruct on how people respond to a subsequent message.

As an example, researchers at Stanford University created two versions of the same news about criminal rates changing only one word - the increase in crime was described as "devastating beast" or "devastating virus".

When asked about their preferred solution - capturing and arresting criminals or resolving problematic or unhealthy causes (poverty, unemployment), those who read the "beast" version mostly recommended imprisonment. On the other hand, the other group preferred to resolve the issues differently.

The author Robert Cialdini clarifies in his book "Pre-Suasion" that the associative coherence between the descriptive metaphor and the preferred solution directed the preference of the people studied.

Map positive associations - words and senses (sounds, tastes, essences, touches and visions) related to the categories of your goals and benefits. Use this positive bond to pre-persuade.

Part VI - Embedding Associations: how to keep the listener's attention?

To conclude the book "Pre-Suasion", Robert Cialdini brings strategies for you to capture your audience's attention.

Pre-suasion is the art and science of capturing and channeling attention. The great challenge of marketing in today's world - cluttered and with lots of information - is to get your attention.

Before you use the association tactics you know, you need to capture the attention of your audience. For this, there are some strategies:


Threats to our personal safety or that of the people we love have the power to attract our attention. In a way, that's what attention is for - being alert for threats.

Approaches using fear and threat, such as cigarette packs, have proven effective since they are followed by clear instructions on how to avoid the threat.


To survive, we need to be aware of the changes that occur around us, and when we notice that change, we conduct a reaction that involves directing our attention to that change. If something is different, it can get our attention.


According to author Robert Cialdini in his book "Pre-Suasion", our attention tends to transform into information about us, or relevant to us. In a buzz of conversation at a party, if we hear our name, we turn our attention immediately.

A message that was designed for us or referred to us tends to capture our attention, be memorized and generate action. In fact, simply using the word "you" instead of "people" can boost relevance.


Our attention and memory turn off once the problem has been resolved or an action has been completed. In contrast, our attention is focused on unfinished situations.

The idea of ​​people reminding themselves of incomplete or interrupted tasks rather than tasks already performed is called the "Zeigarnik Effect". It explains why we remember things better - including advertisements - when they are still unfinished because we have a cognitive idea of ​​closure.


Mysteries intrigue and captivate our attention. Good writers and teachers know this and will structure what they share as mysteries to be solved.

They start by positioning the subject as a mystery and investigate this puzzle with surprising observations. They then consider and offer plausible but incorrect explanations for the problem before providing a clue to the real explanation.

Only then they solve the mystery and draw their implications.

Other books on persuasion and convincing

In “Enchantment”, by Guy Kawasaki, you will see how to involve the people present in all areas of your life, whether they are customers, friends, family, boss or employees. Everyone will be enchanted by you as you learn the techniques that this book will teach you to be more friendly and caring with people.

In his book “How to Manipulate & Persuade Thousands of People”, the author Ricardo Ventura gives some tips on mental triggers that can be used in persuasion, such as:

  1. Authority;
  2. Urgency;
  3. Common Enemy;
  4. Scarcity;
  5. Pain x pleasure relationship;
  6. Simplicity; and
  7. Choice Paradox.

Finally, Roger Dawson, in his book “Secrets of Power Negotiating”, reveals his tactics to succeed in a negotiation. He points out that most of the negotiation takes place through non-verbal communication. That is, studying body language gives you both the advantage of knowing how to behave in a negotiation and the advantage of identifying whether your "opponent" is satisfied or disappointed during the deal.

Okay, so how can I persuade and convince people?

  • Seek not only to attract attention, but also to focus your audience;
  • Be like a magnet. Attract people and magnetize customers;
  • Connect your ideas to be understood and make associations to be accepted;
  • Be aware of the environment you are in. The message speaks for itself, but the place too;
  • Guide your company to the parameters of honesty and attract employees based on sincerity;
  • Pre persuasive people can achieve dramatic changes, but it is the commitment that makes lasting change possible.

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Book “Pre-Suasion” - Robert Cialdini