Convince Them in 90 Seconds

Convince Them in 90 Seconds

Summary of the book Convince Them in 90 Seconds by Nicholas Boothman: You never know where your next important relationship will come from; there are lots of opportunities out there, if you keep your eyes open.

Convince Them in 90 Seconds by Nicholas Boothman, 2002, 251 pages

Note: This guest column was written by Romain from the blog Décodeur du Non-Verbal, in which he shares his passion for body language and the art of effective communication. He has just published a 20-page guide on how to detect lies.

Chronicle and summary of “Convince Them in 90 Seconds”


There are some experts who approximate that 15% of financial success is due to know-how and skills. The remaining 85% is down to relationships and your ability to interact with others.

And this interaction takes place within the first 2 minutes of a meeting…

In this introduction, Nicholas Boothman, the author of Convince Them in 90 Seconds, explains that the communication process follows well-defined steps.

When you meet a person for the first time, survival instincts come into play first. Several scenarios could then happen: either our body and mind decide to turn and run, or they decide to fight, or they decide to interact. The main purpose of this book is, therefore, to take the other person towards the third choice: interaction.

Throughout the chapters, Nicholas Boothman explains how to improve your conversational skills and how to develop your ability to connect and influence a group. He puts forward a range of techniques and tactics in order to build relationships.

I wrote this column just for you, readers of the blog Books for a Change of Life. It reflects the author’s aim to encourage readers to take action to improve their communication and reflects the construction of the book Convince Them in 90 Seconds, which is written with the use of certain trigger points in each chapter.

1) The basics

The Gospel in the words of Muldoon: there are no failures, there is only knowledge.

Nicholas Boothman’s first job was as a personal assistant to Francis Xavier Muldoon, a highly regarded advertising manager. Muldoon had a reputation amongst his peers for his ability to communicate and to get his message across brilliantly. This first chapter is devoted not only to the essential lessons that Nicholas Boothman learned from his mentor, but also those that made him such a good communicator in the years that followed:

First impressions are critical. They dictate the rest of the discussion and sometimes a person’s impression of you for life. So, it should not be underestimated. Convince Them in 90 Seconds will teach you how to make a good first impression.

Your message goes where your voice leads. The same goes for your eyes. Your message goes where your gaze is directed. It is therefore important to look the people you talk to in the eye. This look inspires confidence and confirms your authenticity to them. Along with a smile, it will give an image of you as a happy and confident person.

You have to know how to integrate into your environment.

Those who know how to communicate well adapt to the people with whom they interact. They are veritable chameleons. We’ll see this in the rest of this article, but synchronisation techniques make it possible to create an immediate connection.

Imagination is the engine of the heart. With the use of image-rich language and your ability to appeal to the senses, you will captivate the imagination of your audience.

Trust is linked to position or reputation. It can be built up through your attitude and general appearance, which we will see in more detail in the next section.

Your opinion and your speech must make sense (logical) and your arguments must appeal to the imagination and therefore to the emotions.

2) The new rules: connect with human nature

Control responses of evasion or attack

The desire to either stay or run away occurs from the very start of the encounter. In this chapter, Nicholas Boothman gives you tips on how to create a positive environment and high expectations from your contact person:

  • Be aware of your body language and your appearance. As a rule, people who appear healthy and full of energy are like magnets… They attract.
  • Open body language makes relationships easier: eye contact, a smile and the synchronisation of your body language and voice with those of your counterpart are synonymous with openness.

Just as people are able to make a judgment on you in a matter of seconds, you should keep your preconceived ideas to yourself. They can hinder your interaction. Even if the first impression is often the right one, ignore the one you formed about the person in front of you. Remember what you want and focus on the result you want to achieve.

It would be foolish for you to encroach on someone else’s territory from the outset. Give them their own space. If you don’t respect their private space, it could cause them to flee because of their survival instinct.

Work on the ABCs: attitude, body language and synchronisation.

This chapter is devoted to your attitude, to the basics of good communication. A good number of these aspects can be found throughout the rest of the book. Your attitude is contagious and influences the people around you. Body language, which is the cause of this, is the first thing you notice. Tone, voice and choice of words are also important, but to a lesser extent.

It is possible to control your attitude if you wish. Body and mind are closely linked. If you change one, you will change the other. And vice versa. 

There are some really useful approaches, which will help you to communicate more effectively. As described in the first chapter, enthusiasm is your ally. It is highly contagious. Be confident and friendly. Arrogance and anger will get you nowhere. If you resort to these negative attitudes, nothing will be gained.

Use body language that is open (arms and legs straight out…) and not closed (arms crossed, hands in pockets…).

Be in sync with the other person so that they feel comfortable. Synchronise body language, voice and intonation. If you can put this step into practice, you’ll get fabulous results.

Consistency between body language, voice and intonation is important and conveys your message in an appropriate way. This will give you credibility rather than the impression of someone who doesn’t know their subject. Inconsistency causes confusion. You need to get your message across clearly.

Feedback is essential: be it written, oral or through your body language. It gives purpose and depth to your interaction. We don’t appreciate it if our questions go unanswered. Feedback rounds off the conversation and leaves the impression that you paid attention to the discussion.

Speak the language of the brain

The brain processes certain types of information more easily than others. This information is mainly visual, auditory and kinaesthetic; to a lesser extent it is related to odour and taste. This is discussed in more detail in the next chapter.

The brain can only process positive information. It is much more difficult for it to process negativity (nor, not…). It is therefore more effective to adjust your message in a positive way. Here are two examples that mean the same thing. However, one will have more impact than the other:

Your contact person: “Thank you for the invitation.”

You: “You’re welcome / No problem.”


Your contact person: “Thank you for your presentation.”

You: “You’re welcome. Contact me for more information / No problem. Do not hesitate to contact me for more information.”

Which message has the most impact?

In his book, Convince Them in 90 Seconds, Nicholas Boothman encourages you to continuously use this positive framework in your discussions. This will inspire enthusiasm in the people you deal with.

If the brain is offered reasonable justification it is ready to accept anything. It needs an effect and, above all, a cause. If you explain to people why you want them to do something, it will have a huge impact. People have a natural tendency to obey requests that are justified by a cause and that have a reason behind them. “Because” is now your new weapon of persuasion.

Get in touch with your senses

Connect with your senses

We all have sensory preferences. There are those who experience the world around them with their sense of sight, some with their hearing, and others with their sense of touch. This preference can be felt in the way we communicate. For example, to show that we agree with someone, one person might say “Yes, I see”, another person “Yes, I hear you say” and a third person may say “Yes, I understand what you mean”.

The most effective way to convey your message is to adapt to the main communication channel of your contact person:

  • Visual people need to see images and translate what they experience visually.
  • People who hear messages experience the world through sound. They need to hear them and verbalise them.
  • Kinaesthetic people (touch) communicate through physical sensations.

Nicholas Boothman explains in the book Convince Them in 90 Seconds how to adapt your speech to the main communication channels of the people you talk to.

In addition, if you can connect with your senses it means you can build a relationship (a connection) with the people you talk to. To do this you need to develop a synchronicity between gestures, voice, intonation and sensory preferences.

3) Get in touch with the personality of your contact person

Bring out the personality of your contact person

In the business world, it is possible to categorise employees into 4 distinct groups. Each of these personalities is needed in order for the company to function smoothly.

First of all there are the dreamers, those who bring new ideas. Then there are the analysts, those who verify that the ideas are valid. Persuaders, on the other hand, are those who sell the ideas. And then finally, there are the controllers who implement these ideas. Each employee generally has a combination of these characteristics although one dominates over the others.

If you intend to deal with any of these personalities, you need to adapt your approach accordingly. In Convince Them in 90 Seconds, Nicholas Boothman suggests strategies to connect with each of these personalities.

To enable these strategies, space and incentives will need to be given to encourage dreamers. Attention to detail will be required for analysts. The persuader will like your enthusiasm and the fact that you value their spontaneity. Finally, the controller will appreciate that you offer them options and alternatives. Recognize their qualities and don’t waste their time.

Identify the nature of your job

Through smart planning, your good idea turns into a great idea. In the workplace, when you give an explanation of what your profession is all about, it should be simple, short and easy to remember. Your explanation should show why your trade/company exists and the benefits it provides.

What does the BIG idea bring?

  • It gives your company its identity.
  • Does not specifically refer to a product or service. It comes from the genuine nature of your business.
  • For your employees, it must be the catalyst for action and decisiveness.

If you develop your personal big idea, it can give a clearer and stronger direction to your professional life. It must have meaning for you and express the values that you stand for.

Nicholas Boothman explains that everyone has to make their own promotional video. You have 10 seconds to explain what you do, in order to gain the interest of your audience; so that they want to know more about you and discuss it with you.

The advert is made up of three sections. What you do, for whom and how it improves people’s lives. It should be short and to the point.

Find your style

Physical appearance is also important when you interact with others. It helps to get your message across. To make a good impression, develop your own style that demonstrates independence and confidence.

  • To have your own professional manner that is successful involves a compromise between confidence and approachability.
  • Asking the right questions: “What image do I want to convey to the people I meet? What can my clothes say about the key aspects of my personality?” If how you dress does not match your personality, it may be time to change your wardrobe.
  • Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.
  • If you are poorly dressed, people will notice your clothes. Conversely, if you are well dressed, people will notice you.

4) Build a relationship

Open a line of communication

Not everyone is at ease in social situations. Fortunately, Nicholas Boothman shows us that everyone can acquire the skills to connect with strangers. In this chapter he presents the best way to approach people. It is divided into 5 steps:

  • Openness: Use open body language.
  • Eye contact: Be the first to make eye contact. One exercise is to mentally take note of the colour of the other person’s eyes.
  • Smile: Always smile. The smile on your face reflects your positive attitude and shows that you are confident, honest and enthusiastic.
  • Discussion: Be the first to say “Hello” and introduce yourself. It allows you to take control of the discussion. When you talk with someone always remember their first name.
  • Synchronisation: Synchronize your voice and non-verbal communication with the other person’s in order to create a connection.

In business, presentations are often required. Those who perform well demonstrate their professionalism and earn recognition.

  • Don’t wait to be introduced. Be proactive if nothing happens. Seize opportunities.
  • It is a good idea to stand up to greet someone. It is a mark of respect that helps to break down barriers between you and the other person.
  • Have a confident handshake. It should be firm and respectful.
  • Be the one who helps people to circulate. Connect people to each other. You should be seen as the social facilitator. One rule of thumb, however: always introduce the least important person to the most important person,

“Mr. President, I would like to introduce Antoine, our new Program Manager. “and not “Antoine, this is Mr. President”. 

The earlier you establish common ground with your contacts, the quicker the relationship between you will develop.

Make them talk

There are a number of rules to learn in order to establish a fruitful relationship. They are to make the other person talk, stay focused on what they have to say, observe them and listen carefully. In this process, you also need to respond and encourage them. But listen more than you talk. This contributes to one of the 3 essential qualities of a good communicator: humility.

In your toolbox of tricks to apply these rules, questions are the catalysts for conversation. If you ask the right questions, the discussion is kept alive. There are different types of questions, ones that encourage the conversation and those that kill it:

General questions: they cause the other party to respond from the heart and to think about their response. They encourage them to open up. These questions usually start with words such as:  Who? What? Where? When? Why and How? It will be very difficult for them to answer with a simple yes or no. So, they help to stimulate the conversation.

Why did you go to Grenoble last week?” Blah blah blah…

How did you like the Taylor McFerrin concert?” Blah, blah, blah…

– Conversely, specific questions should be avoided. Those that end with a yes or no or with one word stop the exchange. These cause the respondents to withdraw into themselves. They usually begin with: “Are you…? “, “Was the…?”, “Have you…?”, “Did you…?”.

” Did you go to Grenoble last week?”: Yes/No.

” Was the Taylor McFerrin concert good?”: Yes/No.

This type of question should only be used in moderation.

– The imagination of the other person feeds the discussion. Think about questions such as: “What do you think about…?”, “Could you please tell me more about…?”

– Pay attention to the key words they use. This will allow you to refer back to them in a later question. You may come across something in common.

When a conversation develops, you move from a courteous discussion, with general questions which cause them to reflect, to a more personal exchange. This will promote conviviality. A genuinely friendly conversation is private and comfortable at the same time. We appreciate conversations that are casual, along with a bit of gossip. But what are the points that make it more meaningful for both of you?

  • You use language that appeals to the other person’s senses and imagination. Conversely, a factual person delivers a purely informative message.
  • You know the value of contacts. You know that the best way to approach someone is to be introduced by someone they respect. This type of introduction subconsciously lowers negative barriers for any future contact that may occur.
  • You concentrate on the person in front of you. This focus and sense of closeness between you will make them feel important. We like to feel important and above all we appreciate what makes us feel important.
  • You curiosity is aroused. This is one of the 3 essential qualities needed by someone who is a good communicator. When you engage them, you discover what makes them tick.

Find the right approach

You can influence how people will accept you and how they will view your ideas. To do this, Nicholas Boothman explains that you have to connect states of mind. It means that you need to identify the emotional condition of the people you talk with and your ability to take them to where you want them to go.

Before a job interview, research on the company is essential. This will allow you to customise your 10-second promotional video in relation to the company. In line with your research, your video will highlight your skills to demonstrate that you are the perfect candidate for the job.

On a phone conversation, body language is not visible: neither yours nor the person on the other end of the phone. The important thing is to be aware of your voice and intonation; the flow of your words is also important.

At social functions, don’t lose sight of your objective. These are opportunities for informal contact, research and discussion. In order to make the most of them, remember why you came and adapt your attitude to suit: use open body language, introduce yourself and stay focused on new contacts to grow your network.

“The bottle doesn’t matter as long as you’re drunk” – The art of presentation

If you follow all the tips in the book (helpful attitude, eye contact, smile, engaged intonation), you will build credibility and trust with your audience.

Your message should be delivered in less than two minutes.

There is nothing that annoys your audience more than when they question why they are there to listen to you.

Don’t appear as if you have a role to play. You have to believe in your subject. Stick to your big idea, and the connection you make with your audience will come from the heart.

How you breathe is an important aspect in this exercise. For example, the technique to breathe regularly (breathe in on the count of 4, hold your breath for 4 beats and breathe out for the same amount of time) will allow you to relax and overcome the fear to speak in public.

Let your personality shine through in your presentation. This will strengthen the connection and your communication with your audience.

Metaphors and examples will appeal to the imagination of your audience and appeal to their senses. Make use of them, they will give more depth to your presentation.

Conclusion on “Convince Them in 90 Seconds”:

It is crucial to know how to take advantage of each of the opportunities and encounters that life offers us. To conclude the book, Nicholas Boothman shares a story that I think is profoundly meaningful: the story of the day he went with his daughter to an aromatherapy shop. The chance encounter he had there, and those that followed, led him, a few years later, to give a presentation in front of 6,000 people for AT&T, the largest telephone company in the United States.

With an analysis of the path that the sequence of encounters over a lifetime can take, I would like, in order to conclude this article, to come back to the “summary sentence of the book” (or rather the sentences). They are a perfect illustration of this story and of the stories that you can also write. Random encounters play a very important role. You never know which one will lead to an important relationship. You have to know how to seize these opportunities every day.

Strong Points:

  • Convince Them in 90 Seconds goes straight to the heart of the matter.
  • Nicholas Boothman’s message is well delivered (this is also the subject of this book).
  • The book Convince Them in 90 Seconds is filled with many everyday examples that are suitable for both the professional and personal worlds.
  • Practical exercises at the end of the chapter help to apply the knowledge.
  • A basic reminder of the concepts developed can be found at the end of each chapter.
  • Numerous techniques related to communication are discussed: non-verbal communication, NLP, persuasion, breathing…

Weak Points:

  • I find Convince Them in 90 Seconds very Americanized. In my opinion, it would need to be adapted for a French/European audience.
  • The numerous techniques mentioned in the strengths (non-verbal communication, NLP, persuasion, breathing) are dealt with superficially. Convince Them in 90 Seconds is, as a result of this, a very good summary for fans of Pareto’s Law. However, experts in any of these fields may feel short-changed by the lack of detail.

My rating : Nicholas Boothman Convince Them in 90 Seconds Nicholas Boothman Convince Them in 90 Seconds Nicholas Boothman Convince Them in 90 SecondsNicholas Boothman Convince Them in 90 SecondsNicholas Boothman Convince Them in 90 SecondsNicholas Boothman Convince Them in 90 SecondsNicholas Boothman Convince Them in 90 SecondsNicholas Boothman Convince Them in 90 SecondsNicholas Boothman Convince Them in 90 Seconds

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