Harnessing the Power of Persuasion to Skyrocket Your Career (video 3 of 3)
Harnessing the Power of Persuasion to Skyrocket Your Career
with Kaia Alexander
Hi, I’m Kaia Alexander, founder of the Entertainment Business School. This is the 3rd video in this series for writers, directors and aspiring showrunners.
Let me quickly recap in case you missed it: In video 1, I spoke about Unlocking Hidden Opportunities: Navigating the Industry During Difficult Times. I shared 5 things you should be doing right now to position yourself for after the strike. These are things that if you do them, you significantly increase your odds of employment and of penetrating elite levels of the business.
And in video 2 I spoke about how to go from unknown to unforgettable, crafting your personal brand. I gave some examples of filmmakers with unforgettable brands who built names for themselves along with tips to get you started so you can do the same. Branding is the same as making a name for yourself. You can’t make it in entertainment without making a name for yourself. So if you missed either of these important trainings, go check em out!
In case you’re just dropping in with me and you don’t know my background, I was a development exec with a company called Inferno, and we made films like JUST FRIENDS with Ryan Reynolds, PEACEFUL WARRIOR with Nick Nolte, and THE GOOD NIGHT with Gwyneth Paltrow and Penelope Cruz, HACHI a DOG’S TALE with Richard Gere. I then went to work for comedian Garry Shandling.
Let’s talk about today’s topic, the art of persuasion. Learning to be persuasive is imperative to the success of your career. If you’re an above the line creative, you’re in sales. I know, I know, you HATE sales. Me, too. Persuasion is the art of selling in a way that lets everybody off the hook, and you massively improve your results.
People like to do business with people they like. No one likes to feel sold or manipulated. No one likes pushy people. If you get this wrong, you just won’t be given a second chance. You don’t want to get brushed aside or ghosted, and that’s what happens all the time. And it sucks. So let’s make sure you avoid all that.
Persuasion is imperative, and it’s an art – the art of influence. One I highly recommend you become a student of. You’ll hear a lot about pitching in this business, practicing your pitches, setting up pitch meetings. That’s when you try to sell your TV show or film to an development executive, producer or team of execs.
Underlying all pitches is the art of persuasion. A persuasive pitch is imperative. And it’s possible to deliver an interesting pitch, that isn’t persuasive enough – and it won’t sell. An interesting pitch is too intellectual, and lands in a place that doesn’t get execs to pull the trigger. They might really LIKE it, but unless they LOVE it, you’re not in business. Persuasion is the art of getting people to salivate over what you’re doing, and be determined to be part of it, or make sure they buy your show before anyone else does, and they get this sense of urgency and scarcity like, QUICK! We have to make this happen! And when you’re on the receiving end of that flurry of excitement, your career explodes in the best possible way.
The surprising element of persuasion is practice. The more you practice the more relaxed you’ll feel and the more relaxed you feel the more your confidence comes across. All these elements tie into persuasion. If you’re too nervous you can’t possibly be persuasive. Your pitch will fall flat, I can guarantee it. So just leaning into the elements that underpin persuasion: emotional language, your credibility, correctly positioning the opportunity, answering objections and building excitement.
It’s just like music – if you practice the piece of music and know it backwards and forwards technically, the emotion can really shine through.
I have a student named Chip, who has a really compelling background in the intelligence community. He’s a screenwriter and he really wanted to get a manager. He hadn’t had any luck finding one, or interesting one, and had burned through a lot of querying on his own before he came to class. I certainly couldn’t promise getting him a manager, but knowing the art of persuasion, I was confident we could improve or even 10X his results. That’s exactly what happened.
He attended my session on querying during the Entertainment Business School. He shared the draft he had, and asked for support to get it in shape. So as we worked on his query letter together, I came to that from a place of persuasion. Positioning everything about him that is so intriguing so that any manager in their right mind would read request him.
When I encouraged him to re-write his cold query to be more persuasive, he got 8 read requests. That was over one weekend. That next Monday, he was signed with an impressive new manager.
What did we emphasize for Chip?
His credibility. His background.
He used emotional language.
We answered the question: why you, why now?
We presented a compelling log line of one of his projects that makes you just think: Oh my gosh ,this sounds like something I’d want to watch!
We looked at his potential market appeal, target audience, relevant market trends. The reality is, thrillers have a worldwide audience. He’s in the sweet spot for that. With some persuasion in his positioning, he stood out. He got signed.
Do you want to sell your shows and movie scripts? Master the art of persuasion.
So whether you’re in person pitching or chatting someone up at a festival, or you’re writing a query, it’s the power of persuasion that will get you noticed, get you that attention you’re craving for your work.
And the great news is it’s something you can learn, and practice and always improve.
Now is the perfect time for you to focus on expanding your own knowledge of the entertainment business, and on practicing your presentation skills. This industry requires continuous learning and up-leveling your skillset. It’s dynamic and competitive, and there’s always more to integrate in your repertoire that will take you from unknown to unforgettable. So if you don’t have reps yet, if you don’t have deal flow yet, decide to keep learning. All it means is you don’t have the key yet that will unlock that door, so get the darn key, do whatever it takes to get the key and get that door open.
Push yourself to learn. Get outside your comfort zone where the breakthroughs are. You can’t keep doing what you’ve been doing that hasn’t worked, and expect different results. Use this time during the industry work stoppagewisely.
And I hope you decide to learn from me, in the Entertainment Business School!
So to recap:
This is crucial intel they don’t teach you in film school. Knowledge is power! Get the knowledge. I want this for you. Consider me your trusted source for your entertainment business career breakthroughs.
I’m giving you all this free content during the open enrollment of the Entertainment Business School. Our next classes start August 7st. Applications open on Wednesday July 19th. I limit class size, so we can’t take everyone who applies. But if you’re serious about going pro, I hope you will apply when the doors open.
I love teaching. I love supporting my students. And I love giving them the edge over the competition in this business. I hope you’ll apply for the Entertainment Business School. And I look forward to reading your application!