January 14, 2019

The Power of Conviction

Joshua Reynolds

Have you ever had to give a speech, write a paper or create a presentation, and been filled with dread—or worse yet, boredom—just thinking about it? Have you ever fielded questions from a group of customers, investors, reporters or co-workers, and felt queasy because you didn’t believe in your own answers? Have you ever written a sentence that was 20 words longer than it needed to be—or put together a slide deck that was 20 slides longer than it needed to be? Have you ever come home from work exhausted, not by the distance traveled in your commute, but by how far you had to stray from your truest self?

These are the moments that inspired me to launch Rob Roy Consulting. These are the moments when our authentic selves chafe against inauthentic work. These are the moments that we’re called upon to move beyond spin, messaging, and persuasion for its own sake.

These are the moments that call upon us to speak, write, and lead with conviction.

Conviction is much more than a subjective feeling. From a neuroscience perspective, conviction shows up in a million individual sensory inputs that convey authenticity, honesty, and confidence. Verbal cues such as intonation, pacing, and filler words like “ah” and “um.” Rhetorical cues such as evading or answering tough questions, ignoring or engaging critical audience members—all these things are the metadata of conviction.  These are the unspoken signals we send that tell our audience, “This person actually believes in what they’re telling you. You should pay attention.”

And it just makes sense. In the organic computer that is the human brain, words alone represent a relatively small file. How big is a text file when you send it? A few kilobytes, maybe? How big is a song file? Megabytes? A movie file is gigabytes. But real life and all its intricate, contextual nuances—that’s a matter of terabytes and exabytes. And in those hidden but very real subconscious calculations, we make instinctive decisions about whom and what we believe.

So for many people about to face a moment when they have to stand and deliver a message—whether it’s to customers, investors, influencers, policy makers or co-workers—they focus on the cosmetic, surface indicators of conviction. Am I saying the right words? Am I displaying the right image? Am I smiling enough? And to be sure, being aware of and intentional with the image you portray is important.

But rather than attacking this problem from the surface inwards, what if we took an outside-in approach? What if we started by asking ourselves, “Do I believe in what I’m saying?” What if we analyzed where we, ourselves, think we’re bullshitting and what we, ourselves, hold to be the truest and most important things to convey? What if we didn’t have to fake confidence in our body language, eye contact and vocal intonations? What if we were simply filled to the brim with conviction, confidence and courage and witnessed the organic impact to our delivery?

That’s just part of what Rob Roy is here to explore. We're here to help people discover the power of finding the truest and most important thing to say in any given situation—whether it’s in a brand campaign, a sales pitch, a media interview, an investor deck, a board meeting or working with regulators. Because purpose persuades. Authenticity attracts. And conviction convinces.

This is something I learned growing up. Despite a noticeable stammer and a crippling shyness, I had deeply principled parents who believed that telling the truth no matter how inconvenient was always the right thing to do. And I had a grandfather—named Rob Roy—who pushed me to work past my limitations and explore my own persuasive potential. He encouraged me to join the debate team and coached me to find my voice. He taught me that if you believe in what you’re saying—and you believe your audience needs to hear it—you become damn near unstoppable.

So I’m delighted to say, decades later, we’ve founded a company based on that very principle, and named it after him. (As a matter of fact, today marks the 30th anniversary of Rob Roy's passing, but I can still hear his encouraging counsel echoing in my head.)

Of course, being persuasive by telling the truth is nowhere near as easy as it sounds. But it is absolutely a teachable skill. I’m living proof of that. There are a multitude of techniques, models and exercises that can help you discover, articulate, and convey an irresistible truth.

In the posts to follow, we’ll explore various models and methods for bringing forth your most authentic, persuasive self, even in the most challenging scenarios. And we’ll dive into some of the questions our most successful and courageous clients are wrestling with, including:

We look forward to exploring these questions, and many more, in the posts to come.

Welcome to Rob Roy.

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