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Want to mobilise people for a cause? Talk, don't email

Talking to six people in person is equal to the power of a 200-recipient email blast.

TNN|
Apr 23, 2017, 01.51 PM IST
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Talking to six people in person is equal to the power of a 200-recipient email blast.
Talking to six people in person is equal to the power of a 200-recipient email blast.
You may have thousands of contacts on your mailing list, but if you want to mobilise people for a cause, calling a handful in your close circle will be more effective than mailing everyone.

“Despite the reach of email, asking in person is the significantly more effective approach; you need to ask six people in person to equal the power of a 200-recipient email blast,“ writes Vanessa K Bohns in an article in Harvard Business Review. Yet, most people think email will be more effective.

Bohns, who is an assistant professor of organisational behavior at the ILR School at Cornell University, and Mahdi Roghanizad of Western University together conducted research that found that people tend to overestimate the power of their persuasiveness via textbased communication, and underestimate the power of their persuasiveness via face-to-face communication.

When they got 45 participants to ask 450 strangers (10 each) to complete a brief survey, half of them made their requests over email, while the other half asked face-to-face.

“We found that people were much more likely to agree to complete a survey when they were asked in person as opposed to over email. These findings are consistent with previ ous research showing that people are more likely to comply with requests in person than over email.“

Before the experiment, Bohns and Roghanizad asked the participants to predict their success rate. Those who requested face-to-face, estimated that 5 out of 10 people would agree, while those who emailed guessed that, on average, 5.5 out of 10 people would agree.

For more: Harvard Business Review
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