You spend a lot of time in meetings yet how much of your time and conversation is effective? Do you know why people listen and do what you ask of them?

As a board member or a manager, you have to get things done in meetings and that means persuasion (and convincing). New research suggests you should pepper your discussion with certain empowering words. And, how you include others in your suggestions may improve persuasion and creating successful meetings.

Meetings are for informing, motivating, activating, empowering, and persuading.

Meetings Really Aren’t About Informing

Persuasion, convincing and motivating are particularly important matters. So how does a board member or attendee at a meeting lead or participate in discussions to persuade others of their views, values and objectives? And does your conversation move the organization forward? Maybe it’s your word choice.

The Study by MIT Researchers

Studies have been conducted on meetings and how meeting attendees discussed and collaborated. Researchers Been Kim and Cynthia Rudin from MIT were interested in which situations, moments or words were key decisive points in the proceedings.

Identified by the SVM were words with large absolute coefficient value (normalized) over all 5 folds of the test. These include “things,” “start,” “meeting,” “people,” “yeah.”

Studying the most persuasive words from Fisher’s exact test, we find that many of these words are not specifically tied to the topic of the meeting (designing a remote control), but seem to be more generally persuasive.

Perhaps surprisingly, the words they discovered aren’t active verbs. The 5 words above are related to a meeting itself, of the group or of what the meeting is supposed to achieve. They’re expected. Discuss, give, and find also appeared to be persuasive to the researchers.
persuasive words


Figure 1 Screenshot of persuasive words        Figure 2 Screenshot of persuasive words

The word start is obvious so any word related to beginning the meeting or an agenda item is going to get people’s attention. They’re ready for the cue. Yeah is another word that launches agreement and discuss is generally an expected activity during the meeting. They appear to relate to the progress of the meeting.

It seems that if your words relate to the expected process of the meeting and its outcomes, then there’s more chance others will pay attention.


And, if you avoid words that hold back the process of the meeting (attendees don’t want to sit in the meeting, they want to get it over with) you’ll be ignored.

Avoiding criticism or negative words might be equally important.

The word yeah is one of the most powerful forward progression words. It may be more about getting through the meeting, rather than the desire to work together.

Being Convincing

The end goal of persuasion is convincing. The convincing point is the one additional detail that focuses all the affirmative points together. The door closes and the decision is cast.

You may want to review the agenda and pepper your own discourse with words from the agenda. This makes what you’re saying relevant to the meeting. If you speak in a way that moves the meeting forward and invites agreement, people will listen and agree with you.

Any word related to approval, acceptance, yes, spending, new, allocating, sharing, and give for instance are bound to make them pay attention and agree. It’s the words that match the outcome they want.

This could work even if attendees directly oppose what you’re trying to convince them of. By sounding like you are sympathetic and in sync with their wishes and beliefs, you’re able to get concessions or even reassess their convictions.

There’s Always More to Learn!

Try some other ideas on how to engage board members in meetings, and 10 Ways to improve your company’s culture so more gets done. It’s time to give your business the X-Factor.

Are you keeping an eye on the evolution of the Cloud and SaaS software? Soon you’ll be using online meeting software and it will provide all the security, remote accessibility, signing, and voting power you need.

eSCRIBE is powered by the SharePoint platform which offers outstanding support for online meetings, scheduling, legislative support, social media collaboration and workflow management.