• David de Souza

Pre-suasion Summary

Updated: Apr 9



When we think of persuasion we usually think about how we can persuade during an interaction, we don't often consider what can be done before. This book highlights these ideas.


Want to dig deeper than the core principles? Check out:



Core Principles:


I have taken the lessons from 'Pre-suasion' and distilled them into 21 core principles:


  1. Pre-suasion is guiding attention before a person receives a message to move the listener into agreement. The key is to focus the person on concepts that are aligned and associated with the information they are about to receive.

  2. You don't need to change anything except what the person is thinking about at the moment they make the decision. For example: Asking them if they are you an adventurous person? or Playing French music (to buy French wine).

  3. Anything that is given attention will lead people to overestimate its importance.

  4. A communicator who is able to focus a person's attention on a key element pre-loads it with importance.

  5. Persuaders often draw our attention to the most favorable feature before they talk about the product. For example: A furniture website that features fluffy clouds as the background results in visitors placing more importance on comfort.

  6. Agenda Setting Theory: The media does not change opinion by providing compelling evidence that changes peoples' minds. They persuade by giving selected issues more coverage than others. The audience believes (due to the greater attention being paid) that the selected issues are the most important.

  7. Personal information about ourselves is a strong magnet of attention.

  8. Use the word 'you' liberally before you make a pitch to predispose your audience for a full consideration.

  9. Counterarguments are more effective than arguments, especially when the original argument is shown to be mistaken or misdirected.

  10. We often have the mistaken belief that from an evolutionary perspective humans need to be part of a group. It depends: If the person is scared or in a wary state of mind the "Don't be left out" message is more effective. If the person is feeling romantic the "Be one of a few" is more effective and the popularity based appeal will fail.

  11. Sex only sells for items people buy for sexually related purposes: (lipstick, cologne, form-fitting clothes).

  12. Fear works when there are clear steps to help the person change, otherwise, the person will be indecisive.

  13. Cognitive poetics have found rhyming leads to increased persuasion.

  14. Weight is linked metaphorically to seriousness, importance, and effect. People rated a candidate higher when their rating was read from a heavy clipboard.

  15. Warmth is linked with being friendly. When a warm cup was given to a person, they rated the person more warmly.

  16. The number 1 rule of salespeople is to get the customer to like you, however, in reality, it is the pre-suasion technique of the customer thinking the seller likes them that causes the result.

  17. You can increase the likelihood that someone will come to an event by saying: "We'll mark you down as coming then, Okay?" [Pause]

  18. To build trust: Instead of mentioning only positive characteristics and leaving negative features until the end (or never), mention them early on. Use 'however', 'but', or 'yet' to divert the listeners' attention away from the weakness and on to strength.

  19. The Positive Test Strategy: When deciding if a possibility is correct, people tend to look for confirmation instead of instance that it's not correct.

  20. Peoples' decision making goal is usually to make their decision good enough and gone, as a result, we use 'satisficing': we select the first practical option that presents itself.

  21. System 1 is when the brain is making emotional and intuitive decisions. System 2 is when the brain makes logical, analytical and rational decisions. Match the system with the decision being made. For example System 1: I feel this is for you. System 2: I think this is for you.


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The 80/20 of Worldly Wisdom: