Communications focuses on the use of messaging across any written, visual, or spoken medium to convey information and meaning. To be an effective media practitioner, it is important to effectively persuade the masses, and having a clear understanding of how your message will be perceived is crucial. The best way to do that is to clearly understand the Elaboration Likelihood Model.
So what exactly is the Elaboration Likelihood Model and how do you use it to your advantage when crafting persuasive appeals? The Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) seeks to explain how humans process stimuli differently and the outcomes of these processes on changing attitudes, and, consequently, behavior. The basic idea is that when someone is presented with information or a message, every individual will accept or reject a message based on secondary factors, some of which are often beyond your control.
There are two ways for your message to be “processed” (or received) by an audience. The first way is through Central route processing, which means your audience cares about your message. They are more likely to pay more attention to the quality and strength of the argument. The second way is through Peripheral route processing which happens on a more subconscious level. Your audience will pay less attention to the message itself because they are being influenced by secondary factors. These factors can include things like the credibility, the appeal, and the presentation, of your message. Opinions formed via the peripheral route are thought to be less likely to be adapted and will need continual reinforcement.
The question now is how do you prevent your audience from processing your argument in a peripheral way? This can be done by focusing on four fundamental areas:
- Your message: What are you saying? What’s your content and how are you saying it?
- Your credibility: What makes you an authoritative voice on this topic? What research can you present to back up your arguments?
- Message design: What visuals are you showing? What is the layout of your presentation?
- Your delivery: What is the user experience like? Are you using an effective cadence? Are you using effective transitions?
If you ask yourself these questions as you are reviewing your work, you will have a better chance of persuading your audience.