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How can a simple question drastically increase support for you and your ideas

Its election year.  Politicians are under enormous pressure to find ways not only to convince the electorate of their qualities, but also draw upon supporters for Election Day.

Many will look at advertising, mail outs and media appearances.  The astute person will look to harness not only the art of persuasion but also the science of persuasion.

Let’s look at the 2000 US election.  537 votes made a huge difference.  What simple strategy could have been used to draw supporters from either side of the polls.

The answer involves…..  Merely asking potential voters to predict whether they will vote on Election Day and provide a reason for their prediction.

When this technique was tried on eve of an election, a prediction yielded a turnout rate 25% higher than those not asked.  It was 86.7% compared with 61.5%

There are two psychological steps here –

  1. When people are asked to engage in socially desirable behaviour in the future, they will feel compelled to say yes because it wins social approval at the time
  2.  after most people have publicly stated they will perform the socially desirable behaviour they are motivated to behave consistently with the commitment made.

What if you are running a workshop and want to decrease the number of “No shows.”

Change your wording from, “Please call if you have to cancel


Will you please call if you have to cancel.  All people will commit to saying yes to this question.  They feel the need to abide by their commitment.  Then say, great I will let (presenter) know you will be attending.  No shows will drop from 30% to 10%.  And this has been scientifically proven.

A commitment has three components to it that cement a person’s commitment.

  1. Commitment becomes voluntary
  2. It’s an active commitment
  3. It’s publicly declared to others.

For example,  If a new initiative depends on gaining verbal support and also meaningful action, then rather than just explaining to the people what benefits are, ask them if they’re willing to support initiative and wait for a YES in response.  Following their agreement ask them to describe the reason for supporting initiative.