Have you ever heard a conversation like this during a client call?

Acme Paper Products President: “Our long term commitment is to increased growth.”
Possible investor: “Does that mean you will expand your plants and cut more forests?”
President: “Our growth program will expand throughout the decade.”

You just experienced use of Abstract Terms, or the avoidance of giving concrete examples, which is a Technique of Language in Propaganda.  According to the Academic Games League of America, “While playing Propaganda, players learn to recognize techniques of persuasion that are often used by advertisers, politicians, editorial writers, and in normal human interaction. Players increase their ability to discern the truth from smokescreens; they learn to figure out the reality of situations rather than getting duped by the techniques. Players become critical thinkers.”  Schools can offer Propaganda as a gifted support program, or as an extracurricular activity, and test their skills against other schools to see who can identify the techniques of propaganda quickly and correctly.

Hi, my name is Shannon, and I absolutely loved Propaganda Tournament.

Here’s the basic gist of the game:  There are six sections, each with eight to ten techniques.  Sections include Techniques of Self-Deception, Techniques of Language, Techniques of Irrelevance, Techniques of Exploitation, Techniques of Form, and Techniques of Maneuver.  Examples like the Acme Paper one above are given, and players need to determine which specific technique is in use.

During a vendor call, while evaluating CPQ add-ons to our CRM system, I put the phone on mute and said out loud to no one in particular, “We need to be a little less Folksy Appeal and a little more Technical Jargon, for Pete’s sake…I’m buying sales tech!”

Two of my colleagues rolled their chairs out into the aisle, opened their eyes wide, and said, “PROPAGANDA!”

Suddenly, we realized that the Propaganda Tournament had geared us all up to work in sales.  Yep.

Never heard of the Propaganda game?  Well, I bet during one of your negotiations you’ve used Appeal to Prestige:  “The speaker asks you to buy or believe by suggesting that such an action will gain prestige for you. You will increase your social standing, culture, taste, and so on, if you do what the speaker wants.”  Or maybe during your capabilities presentation you’ve shown a slide with the logos of all of the cool clients on your roster?  Bam!  Join the Bandwagon Appeal:  “This approach asks you to act a certain way because that is what is popular. ‘Everybody’s doing it!'”  Think back to your last prospecting call.  I can almost guarantee you used the Leading Question:  “You ask a question which suggests its own answer. Or the question puts the other person on the spot. No matter what he answers, he is cooked.”

So, we see you, Propaganda.  We know that your true intent to prep us all for careers as trusted advisors, as sales professionals, has definitely paid off.

Or is that just Causal Oversimplification?  “You explain a complex event or issue by saying it has only one cause, when MANY causes are really responsible. You are simplifying the cause of an event, not the event itself.”

Either way – thanks, Propaganda.  I use you to judge the sales situations I’m in, on either side of the deal desk…and I won’t be lured, fooled, or weakened by these techniques.  Except, of course, if it’s a new and shiny sales tech tool…

The Academic Games

Bangs should come back soon, don’t you think?