I was lucky enough to talk with business students at the University of Illinois at Chicago about ways to become the most persuasive person in the room.

After we finished, a young woman told me she had a job interview the next day. “What advice do you have to do a better job?” she asked.

This reminded me of every time I was looking for a job in my 20s. Or wanting to attract a new client now. How many times had I taken a deep breath and plunged in—sometimes with less than stellar results?

Knowing everyone’s short-term memory can only hold three ideas, I spent a few moments coming up with the best ones. My hope was to share some that she wouldn’t find in the usual online article on this.

Here’s what I suggested she do in advance.

Write Your Goals

Use the acronym for smart goals:

  • Specific – what you want to happen
  • Measurable – so you know when you achieve it
  • Attainable – realistic in this one meeting
  • Relatable – related to what you want to have happen (as opposed to some other shiny object)
  • Timely – by when it can be achieved

If it’s a job interview, for example:

“I listen well and ask questions to know if this is the right job for me. If yes, I give them specific reasons why I’m a good fit and why I’m excited about working there. They invite me back for a second interview.”

Writing this longhand moves the information from your conscious to your subconscious mind. Then it comes up with strategies and ideas for you to get what you want—without you working any harder to do this.

(Here’s an article with more background on goal setting and neuroscience.)

Create the Three Main Ideas You Want Them to Remember

You are the expert on you! Write down the three qualities you possess that any employer would love to see.

You might want to spend five minutes brainstorming this (writing down every idea without stopping) and then pick out the most important ones.

By writing these, you’ll move them from your short- to your long-term memory. That increases the chances you’ll remember them during the interview—and work them into your answers.

Share a Story to Illustrate Each Point

A good story slips past the part of the brain that resists you and your ideas. Instead, it speaks to the part that makes decisions.

This young woman mentioned having an internship with an accounting firm. It was tax season. Her boss was overwhelmed and had given her a number of returns to do.

Instead of quitting at 5:00 p.m., she worked late: finishing and double-checking all of the returns to give her boss a break.

Showing each of key idea with a story, rather than just saying you have a quality, is a powerful way to connect.

(Want more on the neuroscience of storytelling? Look here.)

The Best 10 Minutes You Can Spend

That’s probably about all of the time you’ll need to do these three things before your next big conversation, meeting or interview.

The confidence and clarity these steps give you are a great return on your investment. This also makes you stand out compared with all of the other folks who are just winging it.

Looking for other strategies to turn interviews into conversations where you get what you want? Let’s talk.