The one sentence summary

Pre-suasion is guiding preliminary attention strategically to move recipients into agreement with a message before they experience it.


  • It isn’t just what we say or how we say it that counts, but also what goes on in the moments before we speak.
  • In the world of ‘pre-suasion’, subtle turns of phrase, seemingly insignificant visual clues, and apparently unimportant details of location can prime people to say yes even before they are asked.
  • Who we are with respect to any choice is where our attention is in the moment before the choice.
  • The frontloading of attention is influenced by privileged moments (identifiable points in time when an individual is particularly receptive), channelled attention, and attentional focus that leads to perceptions of causality. What’s salient at the time is viewed as important.
  • Preparatory steps to selling can take multiple forms, sometimes called frames, anchors or primes. The author calls them
  • Attractors are natural commanders of attention: sexual, threatening or different cues.
  • Magnetizers keep attention there once gained: self-relevant, unfinished and mysterious information for example.
  • The primacy of associations is important: I link therefore I am. It’s all about making connections.
  • Target chuting is asking just one question (balanced responses come from two-sided questions such as “How happy or unhappy are you?”). Asked only if they are unhappy, people are 375% more likely to say they are.
  • Bridging terms such as however, but, and yet, hold attention and offset perceived weaknesses.


  • Publicity doesn’t so much tell people what to think as what to think about.
  • The main purpose of speech is to direct listeners’ attention to a selected sector of reality.
  • If/When-then plans involve: (1) register in advance certain cues in settings where we want to achieve something, and (2) take action based on those cues. Eg. “If/when I am asked if I want dessert, then I will order mint tea.”
  • This is called Anticipate the circumstances, and pre-imagine your best response, so you are prepared and know how to act as you wish.
  • Some examples: If you want someone to choose a bottle of French wine, play French background music in the store. If you want them to agree to an untested product, first ask whether they consider themselves adventurous.
  • Although it seems nuts that girls always fall for musicians, it’s because the response is completely emotional – logic doesn’t come into it (see graph).
  • Bossification is making someone (often your boss) think something was their idea. They then back it, even though it was actually yours.


  • These insights are powerful, so could be dangerous in devious hands.