No one’s listening, right?

How good are your powers of persuasion? Here’s 5 simple steps to selling the most complex ideas.

Sure, you know how to communicate, but are you effective? A great idea, miscommunicated, is not such a great idea.

There’s several seminal works on how to embark on what Peter Thompson has called “the timeless art of persuasion”.

The biggest most complicated ideas can be ‘sold’ with just 5 simple steps. The biggest challenge for you is to stop what you have been doing and start using this procedure.

The procedure is simple:

  • The hook:

Start off with a line, a turn of phrase, a bold statement that your audience can’t resist. You wouldn’t be reading this if my title ‘No one’s listening, right?’ didn’t get you interested in this blog. This is bait, click-bait, the hook. (I often write this last, after completing the following.)

  • The challenge:

This is the problem that your reader has. Not yours, theirs. You might express it as a question, or a logical universal challenge. It is might be a specific outcome demanded to be solved by a client’s brief. Can you see the challenge that I’ve articulated above?

  • The solution:

Here is the answer to the questions, the solutions to the problems, the ways to meet the challenges. Here you carefully explain how your solution will address the issues that make up the challenge. But be warned. Here’s where you’ll often stop. And fail. Solutions (‘the great idea’) aren’t enough.

  • The benefits:

Here’s the clincher. What are the benefits to your reader that they will enjoy by implementing your solutions? Explain how their life will be better, how your solutions will greatly benefit them.

  • Call to action:

So, what do you want your audience to do next? What are the ‘next steps’ for them that will set them on the path to the benefits? What do you want them to want you to do next? Set out the steps.


Why bother? It works. It’ll make you a better communicator. It’ll help people listen to you.


You might think there’s some skill that’s needed to discern exactly what the Challenge, Solutions and Benefits are. And you’re right.

A skilled communicator will help you:

  • Zoom in on what the best hook will be for the audience that you’re addressing
  • Uncover what your audience’s real challenges are, and which ones you need to specifically hit with your pitch
  • Frame your solutions so that they specifically meet the challenges
  • Spell out the benefits so that they’re tangible and meaningful to your audience
  • Craft the next steps for your audience so that they are realistic and achievable in a short amount of time.

Any complex challenge can be met in this way. And you can do it with the right help.

(Peter Thompson, 1998, PURSUADING ARISTOTLE, Allen & Unwin)