How to Persuade Anyone using Pacing and Leading

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pacing and leading

There’s a popular saying, “Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight.”

Who would? That would be foolish.

Then why do business owners market their businesses (a true gunfight if ever there was one) without using the persuasive equivalence of guns?

Pacing and leading is one of these weapons, and could quite possibly be one of the most powerful techniques for persuasion psychology in marketing. Simply stated, it’s one of the big guns.

What is Pacing and Leading and where does it come from?

Pacing and Leading is a popular Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) technique. Neuro Linguistic programming is a psychological technology that Richard Bandler and John Grinder developed in the late 1970’s. NLP, as a model for self-help, is becoming increasingly popular and continues to grow and evolve.

While NLP is based in psychology, it deals with enhancing persuasion and influencing behavior in ourselves and others. NLP encompasses a hybrid of techniques and models of personality and behavior.

Bandler and Grinder found that by pacing and leading someone, they could take people into open-eyed trances and influence them into doing things, or making decisions that they wouldn’t have typically made or done.

That’s why NLP technologies have become so popular. They can be used in a wide variety of contexts, such as therapeutic settings and within advanced selling techniques.

How is Pacing and Leading Used?

Pacing and leading is used in many situations. When marketing, pacing and leading are used in copywriting to influence your reader or listener and making them feel as if you are speaking directly to them. How? By using what we know to be true about the target market, tying it to emotions, and leading them to a logical conclusion.

Because pacing and leading as a linguistic style is used every day in normal conversation, it can be hard to recognize. That’s why we need to look at an example from a situation we wouldn’t normally encounter, like hypnosis.

Think of a person in a hypnotist’s chair. The hypnotist says, “As you breathe in and out, listening to the sound of my voice, you start to notice the feelings of drowsiness behind your eyes…”

Do you see what is going on there? If you were in a hypnotist’s chair, with your eyes closed, listening to them speak. You would be breathing and listening. So as the hypnotists states what is true, they attribute meaning to a third thing… like a feeling of drowsiness. It’s a chain of logic which intimates that if this and that is happening, then another thing is destined to happen.

Pacing… and leading…

You are doing this, and this, and this, and that can make you feel (feel, think, or do) this, this, and this.

In normal conversations you will typically use leading language to influence someone’s decision, but if you add pacing statements you will start to see better results.

An Example of Pacing and Leading

Pacing and Leading can be used in all written and verbal communications. Anytime you want to persuade someone, you should pace and lead them.

In most pacing and leading you would use experientially verifiable situations in your pacing statements. Sometimes, however, it is impossible to know for certain what people are experiencing. In these cases, you have two options: you can make educated guesses which cover your bases, and/or you can have people imagine scenarios. For instance:

“Every business owner knows, growing your business is sometimes difficult. When things slow down, or never quite get started, it feels confusing. When you realize you need help, but don’t know where to turn, you begin to worry about payroll and all your other overhead. Those are the moments when you would give anything to have your business pick up. If you could only get more customers!

You imagine your business growing and being able to pay yourself what you are worth. Being able to take vacations and have everything run smoothly without you. You could lie back on the beach and relax, knowing that your team has everything covered. That would be nice…

That’s peace of mind… and it is just one of the benefits you receive when you understand how to market and grow your business.

With Mindwhirl’s marketing coaching and training you will understand how your business grows; know how to drive crowds of loyal customers to your business, and your website with marketing; you will know what to say to them when they get there; know how to take advantage of the opportunity; and know how to make the sale. As a result, you will have the sales and the money you need to pay your bills, and grow your business. The only question, will be finding a place to go on vacation that everyone can agree on.

If you want to grow your business into the powerful profit machine you always imagined it could be, then you absolutely MUST call Mindwhirl today and learn more about our marketing coaching and training.”

This sales pitch makes some assumptions — it has to! It couldn’t possibly talk to everyone in the world. You wouldn’t read it. It speaks to a certain group: Business owners who are just barely making money in their business, who also have children. The pitch paces the typical experience of the target group and expands on it. It follows the problem, agitate, solve model of copywriting; and it also paces and leads. Pacing from a probable experience to the promise of a desirable certain future if you take advantage of the offer from us.

Learning Pacing and Leading

If you really want to learn pacing and leading, all you have to do is practice. No matter who you are trying to persuade, the pattern is simple: state what is happening now in their verifiable or assumed experience, then tie in how the solution or answer helps them think, feel, or do much easier, better, or more.

Just remember, in order to make it work, you have to know where you want to lead them first.

As you try it for yourself, you will realize all the ways that you naturally pace and lead in your normal conversations. Soon, it will be second nature to you and you will be aware of what you are doing. Then you will start directing, and leading conversations…

…and that’s when the fun begins!

Pacing and leading is a powerful technique that you should use in every communication with your prospects and customers.

Anytime you want to lead a person to a conclusion, a decision, or an understanding, use pacing and leading.

You simply state what is true about the current situation, or what you believe to be true about what they are experiencing, and then you use it to lead them to a conclusion which influences a decision.

photo credit: Ian Sane via photopin cc

Michael Miller

Michael Miller

Mike Miller is the co-owner of, a Digital Marketing Agency in Atlanta, Georgia that focuses on aligning sales and marketing for exponentially greater results. Michael’s mission is helping small business owners understand, and organize their marketing so they can make money and grow. Mindwhirl helps business owners plan and implement effective, profitable marketing campaigns and sales programs. If you need more sales, we know how to get leads and grow businesses. Call us today at (770) 295-8660, or email Mike at

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8 thoughts on “How to Persuade Anyone using Pacing and Leading”

  1. Naagesh kumaar

    Dear Sir, some model sentences incorporating pacing and leading, some examples would have been very much appreciated.

    1. Graham,

      This is not true. People naturally have an instinct of fear and belief that nothing will help them if they have to pay money for it. Pacing and leading doesn’t convince people that a product is of a certain quality. It shows people that you as the seller are trustworthy, so it’s worth giving the product a shot.

      Now, one can say “well that’s manipulative”. It’s only manipulative if you don’t follow through with the promise, and your product isn’t what you say it is.

      If pacing and leading is lying, then learning communication skills is virtually immoral.

      1. Yup, imagine where we would be without the communication experts – they were and remain the moral pillar of our society 😀

    2. I agree these people are clowns. The information about NLP is the culmination of bullshit stacked on top of bullshit on top of bullshit. Your benevolent understanding of the nature of humans is astounding. Pacing and leading doesn’t convince people that a product is of a certain quality? Really? It sure does do a damn good job of trying to convince a buyer that it has the quality enough to buy or try. Good products speak for themselves. Why would I give a product a shot if I don’t need it? Oh wait do you want to give my wife a shot since she doesn’t need it? Or how about some heroin? Meth? LSD? Or how about giving this handgun a shot since your suicidal? Me need to convince someone else that I am trustworthy? Not a chance because it comes through naturally because I am a good person. If people can’t see that then they probably don’t need to be around me in the first place. All you are doing is trying to get another person to engage you on a personal level and then exploiting the natural emotions that go with it to buy or try something. Predatory lending? How about predatory selling.

  2. I think leading and pacing could be used in an immoral way, but it is used in a more positive way everyday, helping people over come fears and give up habits like smoking and drinking. It can be seen as subtle manipulation, but it can be used in a good way to enforce a positive attitude.

  3. This sounds very much like what the sales people on QVC use to sell their products. They create all these little reasons why you just cannot live without a rock that will hold the paper down on your desk, stop the door open, or it can be used as a weapon in case you have a burglar, and who would not want to protect their child in a life and death situation.

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