President George W. Bush said it best when he uttered, “See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in to kind of catapult the propaganda.” There’s nobody better qualified to talk about repeating oneself. OK, maybe President Obama. And Clinton, and… The truth is, all politicians understand the importance of repetition to get your point across. Do you really think they have enough original ideas to write a creative speech for each stump on the campaign trail? Anyone that’s had children know this mantra, as well. Eat your dinner, eat your dinner, eat your dinner.
I’ll never forget the second time I attended Richard Bandler and John LaValle’s Persuasion Engineering program in Orlando, FL. Why the second? Well, the year before at the same event they hold every February, I was in awe at the ability of John to interact with each participant on a one on one basis giving them answers to their questions on the fly and customized to their unique situation. When I returned the second year and heard some of the exact same word-for-word responses to questions, I thought, “hey, he said that last year!” Indeed he did. And, he said it, again, each of the next seven consecutive visits. I had an “aha!” Truth be told, part of me felt duped and the other part of me felt relieved. Relieve that I got to hear it, again, and relieved that I would not have to expect myself to be that creative.
Then I heard a comedian give a second show. He did it, also. Then I saw a street act, and what do you know? Yep, they did the same thing, again. Repetition is important for more than just verbal jousting, in an earlier blog I wrote about repetition being the mother of skill in mixed martial arts.
Anyways, want to learn more? Greek rhetoric has a whole section on repeaters antistasis, alliteration, anadiplosis, anaphora, antistrophe, chiasmus, commoratio, conduplicatio, diacope, epimone, epistrophe, palilogia, parachesis, ploce, polyptoton, polysyndeton, symploce, epanalepsis, antisthecon, proparalepsis, epanaphora, pereklasis, paradiegesis, antimetabole, paroemion, etc. Not to mention rhyme and iambic pentameters. Why list them out? ‘Cause you should get to know them all. These really are the building blocks when building a powerful repertoire of persuasion.
I had a friend who did door-to-door in-home sales for most of his working life. He’d always tell the story about the customer giving him the Oscar after every performance, especially in the rare appointments that he didn’t sell. Part of what he meant was they tell you what a great job you did, but to him it was about every single night putting on the same song and dance, the same dog & pony show. Trust me, he didn’t vary a whole lot. But, I literally saw him go months without missing a single sale!