How Can You Get What You Want?

The season finale of The Numbers Game asks the question Can You Get What You Want?  The world is built on persuasion.  Doctors persuade patients to use certain medicines, teachers (try to) persuade students to learn certain lessons, salesmen persuade customers to buy their products, and the TV persuades us to do just about everything in between.  Despite its prevalence, persuasion is an art form that has to be cultivated and primed in order to achieve the best possible results.  With every other person and advertisement attempting to reach your target, how do you make yourself stand out?  Jake Porway, The Numbers Game host and a data scientist, gives us a couple tips on how to act, speak, and look if you want to really get what you want.


Give a reason:


gif of jake from the numbers game about because vs please

If you want to get your way, make time to explain.  A study was done in which 94% of people let the subject cut in line at a copy shop whenever the subject offered a substantial reason, but only 24% of people let him do so if he just said “please.” Looks like the magic word is not so magical anymore!


Dress for the part:

gif of jake from the number games dressed up in a suit

A recent study found that people were 3.5 times more likely to follow a man wearing a business suit across a busy intersection than the same man in casual attire.  Dressing professionally makes people think you are more credible than if you are dressed normally, and so they are more likely to believe you and trust you as an authority figure.


Present a visual:

gif from the numbers game of visuals being used in a presentation

Presentations that use visual support are 43% more persuasive than those that don’t because visual aids help people remember and understand things better, which improves their chances of acting in a certain way.


Grow out your beards, guys:

Gif from the Numbers Game of beard being trustworthy

A recent study in the Journal of Marketing Communications found that men with beards were deemed more credible than those who were clean shaven.  This is not to say you should look like someone out of one of those backwoods reality tv shows, but a well-trimmed beard makes men look older and thus wiser.


Speak quickly:

jake talking

Studies have found that speaking quickly, like at around 200 words per minute, is more effective in short-term persuasion.  Fast talkers give listeners less time to come up with their own arguments, and so the listeners are more likely to just agree rather than embarrass themselves by stumbling over their words.


Do not just rely on your words:

gif from the numbers game of a man acting like a chicken

Ursula did understand that there is more to communication than just speech.  In fact, one study found that you can convey 80% of a word’s meaning using nonverbal cues such as posture, facial expressions, and hand movements!

Tune in to the finale Monday 6/23 at 9:00 PM on the National Geographic Channel to find out how else you can get what you want!


  1. Robert Murray
    United Kingdom
    June 18, 2014, 7:34 am

    I love this post, some great videos.


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