Be polite, courteous, patient and convey to the audience, every audience, the feeling that at that moment are the center of the leader’s world and that there is nowhere in the world that the speaker would prefer to be at that very moment.

We are all competing in an attention economy. From pings and dings to blinks and rings, companies and content constantly compete for our limited time and attention. How do great leaders turn down the noise and tune in to the messages that matter most? What does it take to be heard above the noise? And how do we create communication that cultivates community and connectedness in a distributed, distracted world? To address these questions, we started an interview series called “Can You Hear Me Now?: Top Five Strategies Leaders Use to Diminish Distractions & Win in the Attention Economy.” As a part of this interview series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Yaniv Zaid.

Economist and attorney Dr. Yaniv Zaid — aka “Doctor Persuasion” — is active as a lecturer and business consultant to private firms and public organizations. Recognized worldwide as an expert in the fields of speaking, marketing, sales, negotiation, and persuasion.

Thank you for making time to visit with us. Before we dig in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. What is one of your most memorable moments, and what made it memorable?

I had a childhood dream — to lecture at the biggest conference hall in Israel — Yad Eliyahu Hall in Tel Aviv. I dreamed of thousands of people coming to hear me. In 2016, when I was 39 years old, I fulfilled my dream and delivered a sales workshop together with Jordan Belfort, “The Wolf of Wall Street”, in front of 3,000 people. Since then, I have lots more dreams to fulfill…

What is the most unexpected twist in your career story, and what did you discover from your detour?

I started my degree when I was 23 years old (after serving as an officer in the Israeli air force, plus a long journey around the world) and came across a meeting of the Debate society in my university. I “fell in love” in the Debate method, and found my calling in life — to improve people’s presentation, marketing, Sales, Public Speaking, Negotiation and persuasion capabilities. As a student, I spent 4 years studying rhetoric, became the chairman of my Debate society, and participated in dozens of debate competitions all over the world — including winning 3rd place in the world championship for individual speakers and participating in the semi-finals of the European championship for group speakers.

A meeting by accident became my life mission.

According to a recent Harvard Business School study, the most essential communication skill for leaders is the ability to adapt their communication style. How do you adapt your communication style?

If you pick people randomly off the street and ask them what the four most important things in their life are, all of them (based on international research) will give you the same four answers: love, Wealth, Happiness, and Health. Not necessarily in this order or phrasing. But — No one has ever taught us in any educational framework or “formal” life track how to obtain happiness, love, health, and money! Not in pre-school, elementary school, or in college.

I realized that one of the most important things in life for people, is to be loved by others. So, my focus is on provide personal attention and make people feel comfortable with me, in every situation I am in — I am fully attentive to the person in front of me, I listen carefully and keep the details of everyone I talk to, I use little things (that create big results) like a smile, patients and compliments, etc.

Clarity is critical as well. What lessons have you learned about how to communicate with clarity in our distributed world of work?

A few years ago, I gave a lecture at a big conference, in which the audience was made up mostly of life coaches. I usually arrive early and hear the lecture before mine and stay to hear the one afterward and that is what I did this time as well. The speaker after me spoke about a certain matter, and then suddenly gave an example and asked the audience a question, “Let us say you are with your kid in the park, he is four years old and he falls, takes a knock, starts crying. What does he need from you most right now?”

The audience started to shout out enthusiastically answers like “Containment!” “Empowerment!” “Recognition!” The lecturer seemed surprised and stunned. With a gesture of his hands, he quieted them down and said to them, “Hang on guys, I don’t think you understood. we are talking about a four- year-old kid! He doesn’t know what empowerment and containment are. All he needs from you right now is contact — a hug! And a kiss!”

Now it was the audience’s turn to be surprised and stunned.

The reason why many people don’t succeed in persuading their environment that they are right, even if they are right, is they talk or write in a language that is too high- brow with a lot of professional words that many people don’t understand. The other side perceives that as arrogance or contempt or maybe even detachment from reality. All of us, no matter our age, education, or experience, want to be spoken to clearly, in day-to-day language, in a simple manner that we don’t have to make an effort to understand and not in highbrow professional language, especially if you belong to another profession. Most of us are swamped all day in professional material, endless articles and books in our fields, and are exposed to an enormous amount of information. Sometimes, with so much information and insights, we complicate our messages, and aren’t able to explain to someone else in simple language what it is we do, what they need, why our opinion is right, what solution we are offering, and so on. We try to be sophisticated and to seem smart, and end up leaving the audience or customer floundering.

You need to make sure you’re on the same page as the people you’re communicating with. You need to be clear, but you also need to be sure you’re starting from the same place.

We often discover what works by experiencing what doesn’t. Tell us about a time when your communication didn’t lead to the desired results and what you learned from the experience.

A few years ago, I held a webinar at 9 p.m., and scheduled to end 90 minutes later. The day on which my webinar was scheduled happened to coincide with a synchronized broadcast of two highly rated programs: soccer semifinals in Europe and the final installment a popular TV reality program in the United States.

The truth is it was not so coincidental; it was simply an oversight on my part, because I didn’t pay attention to the programming guide and I chose to hold my webinar on that same date.

But despite the competition, we still gathered for the webinar — me at my end, and hundreds of people at the other end. I wanted to start my on-line discussion by empowering the audience and complimenting them for taking the time to sit in front of their computer and listen to me, so I began my lecture:

Hello, everyone. My name is Dr. Yaniv Zaid. First of all, I’d like to thank all of you for participating in this webinar. It’s no small matter and it shows a lot about you and about how much you’re willing to invest in yourselves. It’s no small matter that you chose to listen to me instead of watching the semifinals right now.

(On the right side of my screen was the webinar dashboard, where I could see the number of people online. As soon as I said “semifinals,” I saw the number drop by 100 listeners within a few seconds! I admit that at first, I didn’t notice what was happening and I just went on, saying . . .) “and that you preferred to listen to me instead of watching (name of the show).”

Suddenly, an amazing thing happened: another 100 listeners left at once! And I was left with a third of my audience after only one minute of broadcasting!

At this point, I realized it was my fault and I immediately switched to the content of the lecture.

What was my big mistake? Very simple: I mentioned my competition! I gave the stage to my competitors. In this case, my competitors were highly-rated shows that, for most of my audience, were a viable alternative to my webinar. Most of the people who heard me at that moment didn’t really make an educated, conscious decision to choose me over those shows. They simply heard about me and the webinar, wrote down the date and didn’t bother checking the programming guide to see what was being broadcast at the same time.

But when I told the members of my audience about my competitors, I created the competition for myself!!

I learned from this episode that in a sales meeting or when relaying a message to clients, never speak directly about competitors.

Talk about yourself, promote your service and the value you offer, explain your relative advantages, and mention, if at all, the market you belong to in a general manner, without mentioning specific competition.

What advice would you offer to other leaders who are struggling to have their messages heard and actioned?

If you want people to act, give them specific and clear actions to do. People’s actions are often determined by the little things. Thus, if people must do something and you show them how easy and simple it is, they will go ahead and act.

For example, in recent years, many people I have met at various events and whom I wanted to stay in contact with have told me, “I don’t have a business card on me. Just Google me and you’ll find all the details.” And I say (to you, not to them): Save your breath. Most people won’t Google you. It’s too “complicated.” By the time I reach my computer, I won’t even remember your full name, and if I do try to search for you on Google, I’ll give up very quickly unless I can find your contact information on your website in less than a minute even though I wanted to keep in touch with you. Why not simply bring a business card along with you to the event?

Another example: A research study conducted on Internet registration showed that if you write “For further details about the conference” on the sign up button, for example, there will be a relatively low conversion rate. However, if you write “For details about the conference, click here,” the conversion rate increases significantly, and, if you write “For details about the conference, click here now!” the conversion rate increases dramatically. What has happened here? We simply explained to people exactly what we expect of them and what exactly they should do.

Leading a distributed team requires a different communication cadence and style from leading a team in person. What are five strategies any leader can deploy to improve communication and clarity when leading a distributed workforce? Please share a story or example for each of you can.


Every person prefers to be addressed in a respectful, non-patronising nor condescending manner, meaning that the leader conveys the point that he is at the same level as the audience. There is in psychology a concept known as the power of affinity — as a speaker it is possible to elevate to maximum one’s persuasion power by causing the audience to identify with him. By relating to people in a proper and professional manner, it is possible to gain their desire to cooperate, their trust and their respect.

No one enjoys when someone behaves towards him in a patronizing manner. Therefore, the speaker should not brandish his title or rank and he should also not exaggerate in showing off his authority. For example, if the speaker is a respected and highly qualified professor and meeting regular persons — they would appreciate if he would speak to them in a straightforward and clear manner, in particular because of the speaker’s high qualification which confers on him a higher aura of respect and formality.


Tales and examples contribute not only to substantiate the leader’s arguments and to persuade his audience but also to create interest. People prefer to be told of examples taken from their daily life and not from locations and subjects that are far from their interests.

3 . Remember your points by heart and not read them out from the notes.

In the chapter that dealt with orderly speech, I mentioned the need to prepare a page that would assist the speaker during his presentation. I also strongly recommended that in any case the leader should never read out from the page, one reason being that in such a situation, answering questions would become much more difficult. Every question demands from the speaker a certain ability to improvise, the ability to think quickly about an aspect that he had not thought about earlier. If the speaker relies on continuously reading from the prepared page, at a certain stage he may start to sound monotonic and platitudinous and his dependency on what is written on the page, would become total. Under such circumstances, even a simple and easy question may cause the speaker to find himself in a difficult situation — many times I encountered speakers that were reading out their presentation from a page and when asked a question reacted in a dire manner to it — some of them started looking for the answer among their pages, some began to stutter and blush and tried to reply out of hand and some even simply ignored the question and continued to read out their presentation as if they had not heard any question.

What should one do in such case? The leader must learn by heart the main arguments and the key sentences of his speech. The page should only be an assisting tool, not the essence of the speech.


The best way to handle disturbances is to prevent them. And the most effective way to prevent disturbances is for the speaker to endear himself to the audience. This does not mean, “to tell the audience what they want to hear”. For example, the politician speaking at the party’s headquarters and having an opinion that is different from the prevailing one, does not have to change his views to identify with his audience’s. He should present his position on the subject and still cause the audience to listen to his speech.

How does one cause the audience and the other speakers to respect you? By showing respect to them.

Mutual respect is the key to the speaker’s relationship with his audience.

Be polite, courteous, patient and convey to the audience, every audience, the feeling that at that moment are the center of the leader’s world and that there is nowhere in the world that the speaker would prefer to be at that very moment.

5 . Meet the time that had been allocated for your speech. If the leader had been allocated 15 minutes to present his case, he should not take 20 minutes to complete his speech. In such a manner he sends a message to the audience that their time is also dear to him, and they will appreciate his attitude. It is also unfair that this speaker should take longer to present his case than any of the other speakers. By extending his presentation, the speaker will cause the following speaker to have his time shortened, giving thereby the impression that he does not respect him.

What are the three most effective strategies to diminish distractions when there is so much competing for attention?

Brand yourself as Bruce Wayne/ Batman. In other words, you should present yourself as a normal, regular person, who is just like your audience and customers and who is successful not because of some “God- given gift” or because of “superpowers,” but because of your diligence, perseverance, your basic talent which you have refined, your constant desire to take the initiative, your optimism and your capacity for hard work.

Successful people tend to emphasize their natural talents and to hide their acquired traits, namely, perseverance, diligence, a capacity for hard work and the ability to maximize their personal abilities.

The result: Their audiences and customers see only the success and then they become envious. They begin to harbor animosity, they gossip, they find excuses to justify themselves, or they just look up to these successful people — which is also not good in terms of marketing in the long run.

And they don’t see the lab hours, that is, the hard work behind the scenes.

Show your unique perspective — how you see things. People want to shorten their learning curve and to decide as quickly as possible, and to make the right, most worthwhile and convenient decision. the expert, listens to their professional opinion, and increases the chances that the first decision they make will be the best one.

Even if you’re extremely smart and experienced, there are some fields you’re not that knowledgeable about. In those fields where they don’t have that much knowledge, people need to turn to the right expert.

Be nice to your customers and give them good service: It increases the number of people following you and, over time, it increases your sales and revenues. Salaried employees also need to brand themselves and to build a “community” because then they are worth more money at their current place of work and in future places of employment.

What is one skill you would advise every leader to invest in to become a better communicator?

Gather information on your target audience, document the information and then use the information when it’s relevant. Bill Clinton, the former President of the United States, had a special gift.

In the 1960s, when, as a sixteen- year-old high school student, he visited the White House, met with the President of the United States at the time, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. He decided there and then that he wanted to be the President of the United States one day.

In the following decades, he prepared an index card for each person that he met, as part of his political life and in general. On this index card, he would write who the person was, his spouse’s name, what he did for a living, where he knew him from, and so on. In this way, wooden boxes accumulated on his desk, containing index cards organized in alphabetical order.

In the early 1990s, when he was running for the presidency, he followed a regular habit: Before every election meeting, he would go over the index cards with his team and see whom he was about to meet there.

Then, at the meeting in front of everyone, when he saw one of his political supporters, he’d casually say something like, “Hey George! How are you? How’s your wife Suzie? And how was fishing this year?” How did he know all these details, even though he hadn’t seen George in years? It was all written on the index card. It may sound like a completely commonplace and banal habit, but the effect it had every time on George or John or Mary or Betty, was astounding.

Beyond the fact that these people would be very moved by having been addressed personally by Bill Clinton (creation of an emotional experience) and would tell everyone they knew the next day about Clinton’s gesture (viral marketing) they would also do another “little” thing — they would vote for Clinton in the upcoming elections! And they would also drive other people to vote for Clinton in those elections.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I recommend every student to join the Debate society at their university, and every person to join Debate meetings. It opens your mind and heart and make you realize that the world is not divided into “right” and “wrong”, and you need to listen to the other party, find common ground, deliver your message better and argue with respect to other opinions.

How can our readers stay connected with you?

My website is — you will find there lots of useful information. My new book, “The 21st Century Sales Bible”, is available on Amazon and in book stores across North America.

My direct email is [email protected] and my direct mobile is 972–54–8001200 — feel free to contact me and ask me any question you may have.

Thank you for these great insights! We wish you continued success.