Did you know that one of the least used, but most effective, strategies when it comes to negotiations of any kind … is silence. Why you might ask, well because silence gives you a number of advantages.
1. Learn From The Experts
What do the best negotiators generally have in common? They will always make their opponents wait for an answer.
When we are nervous or eager we have a tendency to jump in right after the other person has spoken. And the result? It looks like we’re nervous, insecure, or even worse, that we haven’t been listening.
2. A Well-Placed Silence Can Build Relationships
If you’re silent and wait, it conveys the impression that you are listening and thinking about what the other person has said. And, of course, it also sends a signal that you are weighing your answer carefully.
3. Silence Buys You Time
Silence buys you the time to prepare a response. The appearance of thinking, also buys you a few seconds to think.
Being chatty in negotiating is not very powerful, and it usually doesn’t achieve the desired result but the art of creative silence takes practice. Sometimes it takes concentration to simply do nothing.
Try practicing getting used to silence when you’re not under pressure.
These three reasons are why silence is one of the best negotiating tactics you can learn.
What do you think are great negotiation tactics?
Leave a comment below!
For more useful tips and ideas check out our other blogs here or contact us to see how we can help you to transform your voice and your communications.
Whilst you are here you might enjoy some of these:
https://www.confidentspeak.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/ocean-biggshott-97W2bKSvyAw-unsplash-1.jpg20003008adopt15https://www.confidentspeak.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/logo.pngadopt152019-10-25 13:04:502019-10-25 13:04:423 Reasons Why Silence Is A Powerful Weapon
Have you ever overslept, and rushed into a meeting or a webinar, or maybe it was a last minute conference call; or phone call from your boss ? Even if you are lucky enough to be one of those people who snap into alert mode as soon you wake up – I wish I was one of those people!! – we’ve all had moments where our voice seems to fail to catch up with our brain. It’s sometimes referred to as our ‘Bed Voice’
You know what I mean, that flat, heavy, sluggish voice we have first thing!
A client I worked with, on one of our 121 programmes, had to speak regularly on early morning radio. I always remember her being very conscious of her “bed voice”, and was keen to know how to shake it off.
So, in a nutshell, here is how you do it;
Step 1 – Quench that thirst!
One of the primary reasons for this “bed voice” is simply down to the fact that you (and your voice) are dehydrated after sleep – hence muscles work a little slower and a little more sluggishly. Drink a glass of water, drinking coffee (although it may be more tempting) will do little to help your voice.
Step 2 – Good Vibrations
Place your hands on your head – and hum a gentle ‘mmmm’ sound. Put the focus of the hum into the top of your head until you feel vibrations in your head. Repeat a few times.
Step 3 – Get humming
Gently hum up and down your pitch range. So just like the scales on a piano, start on your lowest note and gently and slowly hum/glide your way up to the highest note you can go (without pushing or forcing) Repeat a few times.
Step 4 – Luscious Lips
Place your finger tips on your lips (palm faced in) and again gently hum a ‘mmmm’ sound. Feel vibrations, or a tingly sensation on your lips and the surrounding area. Repeat a few times, and feel your bed voice start to disappear.
Step 5 – Massage
Give your entire face a massage – your cheeks, lips, forehead, nasal area. In other words awaken your face, stretch your mouth and have a good yawn!
Check out this great talk from Julian Treasure on how to warm up your voice
So remember these five tips next time you need to get rid of your bed voice and enjoy the work out!
For more useful tips and ideas check out our other blogs here or contact us to see how we can help you to transform your voice and your communications.
Whilst you are here you might enjoy some of these:
https://www.confidentspeak.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/image-from-rawpixel-id-427737-jpeg.jpg8011200adopt15https://www.confidentspeak.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/logo.pngadopt152019-10-11 11:47:032019-10-11 12:14:445 Steps To Get Rid Of That Dreaded "Bed Voice"
https://www.confidentspeak.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Cumberbatch.jpg553726adopt15https://www.confidentspeak.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/logo.pngadopt152019-09-02 16:17:192019-09-02 17:13:46Improve Your Public Speaking Skills With Lessons From Great Actors
https://www.confidentspeak.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/gem-lauris-rk-vocal-problems-voice-damage.jpg6661000Olivia MacDonnellhttps://www.confidentspeak.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/logo.pngOlivia MacDonnell2019-02-05 13:35:082019-03-12 12:21:47How To Deal With that JERK In Your Audience!
We’ve all felt that surge of panic or anxiety when standing up in front of a group of people, about to talk. Your body is smart, it reacts to stress, panic, or fear and tells you that something is way out of your normal, daily realm of existence. So how do we turn this around so that what the audience see is a composed presenter oozing physical presence;
‘Yikes, I am not in Kansas anymore’
Public speaking – like physical training and sport – requires training and practice; You need to put in the time if you want to take advantage of those speaking opportunities when they come up and really knock it out of the park so you get the result you want.
So where to start? The answer lies in our Physical Presence
Our physical presence is one big piece of the presentation skills puzzle. Combined with vocal presence, it helps establish an emotional connection with the audience along with the words we say. In this, our first of two Amy Cuddy TED Talks, Amy speaks about the impact our body language has on our chances for success.
Listen To Your Gut
We’ve all been guided by our ‘gut instinct’ at some point and with good reason. Our bodies are intricately and acutely sensitive to how we react to the outside world. The brain and gut are connected by an extensive network of Neurons and a highway of chemicals and hormones that constantly provide feedback.
Most of the time we make decisions from our brain, our intellect, and forget about what the ‘other brain’- our gut, is telling us. Have you ever felt ‘butterflies’ in your stomach? The ones you might feel when you’re in the first stages of love or attraction? We feel the same butterflies when we’re nervous of a talk we’re about to give. So the next time you’re stuck when you’re preparing a presentation, ask yourself, ‘What do I really want to talk about? What is my gut saying?’.
What Do You Want Them To Feel?
The impact of non-verbal messages are much stronger than words because the audience remembers them more and for longer. So, ask yourself what you’ve seen recently that made a speaker memorable? Was it the words they said or how they made you feel? Remember, what you feel up there as a presenter is what the audience gets. It’s like a mirror: What you feel, they feel. If you want the audience to feel excited, then find a way to manifest that in your own body. If it’s happy, then embody happiness.
Fake It Till You Become It
We’ve all heard the old adage ‘Fake it till you make it’, but it’s actually ‘Fake it till you become it’. Amy Cuddy did another TED Talk about physical indicators and gives scientific evidence supporting the theory that what we do physically effects how we feel. For example, smiling instantly makes us feel better. Even if it’s a fake smile manufactured by holding a pen between our teeth, we still get a release of positive energy. On the other side, slouching can make us feel defeated or depressed. Standing in a grounded, aligned posture with shoulders relaxed, feet hip width apart, and chest open elicits feelings of confidence and positivity and you will immediately exude physical presence
See It And Feel It
Michael Phelps won a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics because he was able to complete his heat without being able to see. His goggles filled up with water and he couldn’t see where he was going but because he had visualised that race over and over beforehand, he knew every stroke before he even got into the pool. This helped him be prepared for anything and when he couldn’t see, he didn’t panic.
In your preparation for a speech or presentation, sit down and breathe, close your eyes and see yourself giving your presentation See the room, feel where you’re going to move and when. See yourself smiling, see the audience. Go through every move so that when you actually present or go into the meeting, the situation is already familiar.
Prepare For Your Worst Case Scenario
This is a great one for dealing with nerves as well. Think of your worst case scenario, ie. losing your place or not remembering what comes next. Imagine it happening, and list the things you can do to deal with that situation. This way, if you feel prepared and can deal with the worst thing that could happen, then you be ready to handle anything else that comes along as well. Remember, it’s okay to make a mistake! It won’t effect your physical presence, in fact audiences are known to respond well to vulnerability. Itt makes you seem more human and helps them to connect with you.
Don’t wait until you step into the room for that high stakes meeting to prepare and put skills and techniques into place. Implement small changes beforehand and as you practice and prepare and you’ll reap the benefits tenfold. You’ll establish physical presence from the offset, be more able to connect with your audience, share your ideas, and get the results you want.
“ConfidentSpeak is a Voice and Communications consultancy based in Dublin, Ireland. We have worked with leading Irish and international companies and executives. Contact us for details on our range of corporate/private voice and communications programmes for executives, sales teams and technical professionals.”
https://www.confidentspeak.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/k-218-chim-00039-id-13316-jpeg.jpg33215699adopt15https://www.confidentspeak.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/logo.pngadopt152018-08-29 10:54:572018-08-29 11:53:04Trust Your Body: Physical Presence Is Key To Great Communication
We’ve all been there. You’re sitting in the conference room for a business presentation and you start to nod off. You zone out, you’ve stopped listening to the person up at the top of the room giving the presentation. Here are five key business presentation skills you can learn so that you can captivate your audience of staff or potential clients when it’s your turn to give one.
By Olivia MacDonnell, ConfidentSpeak
You know what a boring business presentation is like to sit through.
When the speaker’s voice has become so dull and annoying that it starts to sound like a mosquito buzzing in your ear.
But are you aware of the pitfalls so that you can avoid them next them you stand up to deliver a presentation?
Follow these five steps to avoid the Death by Monotony presentation.
First: How to Know What Makes a Boring Business Presentation
So what’s happening?
Most of the time this unfortunate situation arises because the presenter has fallen into the Monotony Trap.
They speak from one place in their voice in one rhythm and don’t vary either one at all, and this happens without them even knowing it.
Now, this could be someone your know. It could—let’s face it—even be you and you don’t even know it.
A monotone vocal delivery is one of the worst sins and most common mistakes you can make when it comes to public speaking. Luckily, there are lots of skills and voice coaching techniques you can implement to prevent it.
Here are just a few tips you can use to stay out of the monotony trap and keep your audience interested and engaged.
The Five Key Business Presentation Skills, 1: Vary Your Pitch
Here’s one basic fact of physiology.
The ear needs to be entertained and kept interested
So first off, vary your pitch.
Pitch is your vocal range, it’s the movement in tone between the top of your vocal range and the bottom and everywhere in between. (We’ve written a whole article on pitch range and its importance here.)
As children, we naturally have a varied vocal range. As we learn to speak we explore the range of sound our voices can make.
Then as we grow older, something happens. We start to have opinions and start editing ourselves. We start to become self-conscious.
One big mistake we make is thinking that a deep, weighty, monotonous tone for credibility, maturity and gravity.
In short, we stop using the full range of our voices.
Experiment with your vocal range—it’s there for a reason. Remember that the ear needs to be entertained and kept interested so change it up, vary your tone, and use the full range of your vocal pitches.
Here’s a great example:
The Five Key Business Presentation Skills, 2: Do Not Underestimate the Power Of Articulation & Pace
Next, make sure you’re articulating and speaking clearly and slowly.
It may seem obvious but do not underestimate the power of clarity.
We may have heard our message a hundred times but we forget our audience is hearing it for the first time. Everyone can afford to slow down their delivery.
We often rush and end up mumbling our words together because we want to get through the material as quickly as possible or are afraid of forgetting what we have to say next.
Think into your consonants, breathe, and you will slow down. This eliminates rushing and your audience will thank you for it.
The Five Key Business Presentation Skills, 3: Use of Pause
Pause is perhaps the most effective and underused of voice coaching techniques.
https://www.confidentspeak.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Boredom.jpg12801920adopt15https://www.confidentspeak.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/logo.pngadopt152018-07-09 13:14:452018-08-09 11:17:27Avoiding Death By Monotony: The 5 Key Business Presentation Skills You Need
But specifically on her phenomenal Golden Globes performance, allow me to break down and analyse the vocal delivery techniques Oprah used to ensure her message was loud and clear.
These are delivery techniques that you too can take into your speeches and presentations.
1. Showing up Authentically is a Key Vocal Delivery Technique
There is no question with this speech, Oprah delivered her message with authenticity and honesty.
The reality is that any audience will connect and engage with people who are truly themselves. Yes, the content is emotive, but you really get a sense that she truly believes her message.
Once there is authenticity in your message, then strong vocal techniques will be easier to access.
When you deliver a business presentation, how authentic are you with your audience? Or do you drop into presenter mode? Because, so many do.
Ahead of your next presentation, consider these two questions carefully:
What do you feel about your message to the audience?
What do you want your audience to feel about your message?
“Feel?” I hear you ask!
Not what you want them to know and understand, but what you want them to FEEL.
Do you want them to feel excited, curious, frustrated, sad? Whatever that feeling is, you need to think carefully about it, as it needs to be conveyed in your vocal delivery.
2. Great use of timing. She combines pause and pace brilliantly.
The space between your thoughts can be as powerful as the thoughts themselves. She makes great use of pause throughout her speech.
With such strong words she understands her audience needs this time to process her message. Pause is used to strong dramatic effect also.
We can implement pauses to gain different effects.
When we pause before a word or phrase, it creates the classic tension/release.
If we pause after, it allows the audience a moment for the information to sink in.
As opposed to highlighting specific examples in this speech I would simply urge you to listen to the full ten minutes for her use of pause.
It requires bravery for any presenter to accept that silence. If we trust the pause we will hold a listener’s attention.
There is no question about this. It’s so compelling.
When we use pauses, we can also vary the pace of our delivery and the two go hand in hand.
Varying our pace and using the power of pause keeps the rhythm of our vocal delivery varied and keeps the ear from falling asleep.
You can hear throughout this speech she varies pace – for important statements, you’ll hear she slows right down to emphasise the importance of her words. You’ll hear increases the pace to create energy.
For your next presentation, accept the silence.
Try this useful Tempo Technique to engage your audience
Speed up the tempo before you make that important point
Then slow down to deliver it
It carries your listeners forward and then make them wait. It’s a classic tension/release at work. It takes practice, but it’s a very clever device, and it’s powerful.
(Example: Listen to 5.00-5.16 minutes in Oprah’s speech)
3. The Power of Your Consonants in Vocal Delivery
This is where the voice geek in me comes out!
They don’t get much airtime, but consonants can really work for us when we speak and they are used well in Oprah’s speech.
They can grab our listeners’ attention and hold onto it. I believe they give speech emphasis and intent. People often think that they need to speak louder to make their messages stand out, but this is not the case.
I think by Oprah focusing on her consonants she really drives home her message throughout. Any time you want to drive home a point, implant a thought, do it by giving more thought to the consonants in your words. They will make what you say more effective and dynamic.
Try this useful Consonant Technique to drive your message home.
Lengthen the consonants in the word or syllable you want to emphasise.
This creates the illusion of being louder by bringing everything to a halt while we wait for that word.
4. The Importance of Power words: What They Are, and How to Make Them Powerful
All words are not created equally.
When we speak we do not pronounce each and every word and syllable with the same importance.
It is so evident in Oprah’s speech.
If you want your audience to listen and engage then you need to understand
What are power words, and
How to give these power words the power!
Power words are the 1-3 words in each phase or sentence that absolutely reduce it down to its basic meaning.
They communicate the essence of what we are saying.
These words require more time more emphasis, more vocal importance, if they are to resonate with the audience.
But how does Oprah do this? And how do we do it?
First things first: like Oprah does, you need to be authentically communicating your message. To be really connected to and truly believe your message.
Change of volume: Listen how Oprah either increases or decreases volume on specific power words
Pitch variation: She changes the pitch on certain power words to highlight and bring importance to them—she makes them stand out
Articulation: She will overly articulate certain consonants in the power words to bring the word out further—lest the audience forget!
Change of pace: She tends to speed up and then slows down on her power words/phrases.
Pause: She will pause before or after key power words
Try combinations of any of the above.
They are vital to a strong vocal delivery – that will be listened to and understood by your audience.
You can hear examples of Oprah using power words effectively throughout her speech, but skip to 8.00 mins and onwards for a series of great examples, such as:
“ability to maintain hope for a brighter morning“
“even during our darkest nights“
“when that new day finally dawns”
“the time when nobody has to say me too again”
5. Mastering the Skill of the “Clap Trap” is One of the Best Vocal Delivery Techniques
She doesn’t wait for the applause and she doesn’t wait for clapping to stop before she continues. Pausing and waiting for the audience to clap is a faux pas, it removes the sense of spontaneity. Carrying on with her message and refusing the applause implies that she is not expecting a clap, she is more focused on her message than herself. A speaker always needs to be more committed to the message than to accepting praise. This she does very well throughout her speech
Skip to minutes 2:22, 3:22 and 7:02 to see Oprah do this.
Be under no illusions, Oprah would most certainly have practiced and rehearsed this speech many times to refine her vocal delivery techniques.
It would have been a shame to have a great message delivered poorly. My message to you is that it’s not enough to have a strong message—your vocal delivery needs to support that importance of your message.
So, finally, record yourself when you’re preparing and practicing your words.
It is the only way you can hear exactly what you sound like and then you can make changes accordingly.
Are your showing up authentically in your speech?
Are you using pause and pace combined to engage your audience?
How are you making your power words standout and be POWERFUL?
Are you giving Consonants the importance they deserve?
Finally, don’t fall into claptrap mistakes!
Here’s Oprah’s Full Speech
ConfidentSpeak is a Voice and Communications consultancy based in Dublin, Ireland.
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Brene Brown is an Internet phenomenon. Her speeches have been viewed tens of millions of times on YouTube, TED and elsewhere online. But just what is it about Brene Brown that makes her talks so compelling? I want to share with you what can be learnt from her presenting style that will help you also become a confident presenter and perhaps transform how you approach your next presentation. Here we break down the key things to take away from Brene Brown’s confidence, to help you become a better speaker, presenter and communicator.
By Olivia MacDonnell, ConfidentSpeak
Firstly, who is Brene Brown?
Brene Brown is a researcher of shame, vulnerability, courage and empathy.
Like, there’s not many of those people around, right?!
She is also the author of three #1 New York Times bestsellers.
But the real reason I’ve put this blog together is because Brown is a stunningly powerful presenter. Brene Brown’s confidence on stage is a sight to behold. Here we analyse why.
Brene Brown’s Confidence is Based on Wholehearted Living and Wholehearted Presenting
One important thing to know about Brown’s teachings is that she speaks about wholehearted living.
This roughly translates to:
By accepting vulnerability in our lives we can live more meaningful, more connected, successful lives.
Her research is based on following 10 guideposts which she urges us to practice daily.
But does she practice these guideposts when she speaks to her audiences?
In short, is Brene Brown a wholehearted presenter?
The answer is “Hell Yes!”
And you can learn so much from her if you want to connect in an authentic way with your audience.
Let’s discuss a number of her 10 guideposts in the context of her presentation approach, so that you too can bring Brene Brown’s confidence into your own presentations.
Guidepost 1: Cultivating Authenticity– Letting go of what people think
‘‘To be willing to let go of who you think you should be, to be able to connect” Brene Brown
Brown communicates with her audience as if she’s having a chat over coffee.
She talks in an authentic, conversational easy way. She has the courage to be herself (in true Texan fashion), to “show up authentically”, no pretense, no facade.
To adopt Brene Brown’s confidence and become a more powerful, impactful, confident presenter, we need to let go of what others might think of us—our colleagues or managers.
You need to have the courage to show up for your presentation as your true self, not trying to be something you are not—this honesty connects powerfully with any audience.
Guideposts 2 & 3:Cultivating Self-Compassion– Letting go of perfectionism, and Cultivating A Resilient Spirit– Letting go of numbing and powerlessness
Brown’s TEDx talk—“The Power of Vulnerability”—was originally going to be named something like “Variables Mitigating Self Actualising”.
Which begs the question: why the change?
Well, how often do we intellectualise our language? Speaking in conceptual language stifles audiences.
Why do we do it?
In truth, we do it to protect ourselves, to appear like we are worthy and perfect. We put “armour” on—complex language, or a data dump on a PowerPoint slide—to protect ourselves from being vulnerable.
We strip the humanness from our presentations, and this results in numbing and stifling both presenter and audience.
By allowing self-compassion (as Brene does in her talks) we allow ourselves the permission to be imperfect in our presenting. This allows us to show vulnerability, to show emotion when we speak, whether that’s fear, anger or asking for help if we need it.
By allowing this self-compassion, a presenter becomes more resilient as a result. And ultimately creates a more honest, authentic, stronger relationship with the audience.
Guideposts 4 & 5: Cultivating Gratitude and Joy—Letting go of Scarcity and Fear of the Dark, and Cultivating Meaningful Work—Letting go of Self-Doubt
Brown refers to scarcity as a mindset of “never enough, never perfect enough, never relevant enough…”
Many presenters live in constant scarcity, or what some people might recognise as “imposter syndrome”.
Brown admits to working daily to overcome her scarcity self-talk and to conquer her “imposter syndrome”.
Moving from “I am not worthy” to I am worthy and enough. In the context of becoming a confident presenter, we need to let go of our scarcity self-talk. This is a huge factor to overcoming fear/lack of confidence when presenting.
Guidepost 6: Cultivating Creativity – “Stories are just data with a soul”
One of the most striking things about Brown is the skill with which she weaves years of research with her personal, vulnerable, honest stories—both funny and painful.
I just love the quote: “Stories are just data with a soul.”
The vulnerability in her stories, metaphors and analogies resonate very strongly with her audience.
Stories help audiences to remember important points and they also build that important empathy with listeners.
In order to connect with audiences, there needs to be a balance of Evidence-Based-Content (Head content) mixed with emotive content (Heart content). Brown achieves this balance perfectly. This results in a fully engaged audience when presenting.
Throwing data coldly at audiences will numb them, and yet we see this all the time.
So I strongly encourage you on your journey be becoming a confident presenter that you close your laptop, get pen and paper out or go for a walk.
Get creative, brave, and playful with your presentation content. This is powerful and I would say mandatory to fully engage your audiences.
Guidepost 8: Cultivating Calm and Stillness
This one is, I believe, absolutely essential to becoming a confident presenter.
Listen to Brene Brown speak (I’ve included the videos at the bottom).
There is no rush, no anxiety, no sense of urgency. She pauses, to think and reflect.
Now this is confident presenting.
She’s not distracted with whatever content is coming next. She’s not worried about “getting through” her content. She remains present with what she is speaking about.
Of course she has researched and prepared her talk.
But she is also a big believer in the power of meditation and the importance of breathing, and we experience this as she speaks. Working to understand the role breath plays is vital to help connect with both our content and our audience.
Guidepost 10: Cultivating Laughter, Play, Intuition, Trust – Letting go Being Cool and “Always in Control”
Brown has fun in her presentations, and as a result the audience has fun.
She laughs at her stories, she laughs at herself!
Whilst her content is grounded in strong evidence, she allows herself not to take herself too seriously.
She doesn’t rely heavily on a script or slides, and she reacts to her audience’s reactions throughout. She “lets go of total control and certainty” – not totally but just enough!
Conclusion: How to Gain Confidence from Wholehearted Presenting
Implementing all of this in your own talks, speeches and presentations is easier said than done, of course, but as we’ve seen from Brown, weaving personal stories through your talks certainly makes it easier.
To reach the level of confidence embodied by Brene Brown requires preparation, practice and BRAVERY, but when achieved it will totally captivate an audience.
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For over a decade in this business I have seen and heard so many sales presentations. I’ve seen good sales presentations, I’ve seen bad sales presentations. And yes, I’ve seen downright ugly sales presentations. So what are good sales presentation techniques? The kind of sales presentation techniques that can win that six-figure contract? Here are eight sales presentation habits to identify and avoid—at all costs!
By Olivia MacDonnell, ConfidentSpeak
In the years since I founded ConfidentSpeak, I’ve worked with so many sales executives on their presentations, vocal skills and executive presence. I’ve seen at first hand what makes for a successful sales presentation—and I want to share with you today some of the presenting habits which can seriously impact your confidence, the success of your sales presentations, and ultimately the bottom line in your businesses.
If you are a CEO, a sales director or a sales manager with responsibility for a team, I hope that the eight sales presentation techniques below will help you to identify whether these habits are commonplace within your teams.
Because if your team has any or all of these bad habits, they are most certainly having a detrimental effect on sales figures.
1. Stop Thinking About Yourself
I’ve seen this happen so many times. So often, in fact, that it deserves to be Number 1 in this list.
Many executives might say they are “focused on their customer”, but what happens in reality?
In reality, they might know their customer’s name and job title, but have not given a single thought to them apart that. And this is recipe for a certain letdown.
Without careful and strategic consideration for your audience and without tailoring your message to their requirements—remember here, your audience is your prospective decision maker—you are losing so much credibility.
And because of that, you are almost certain to lose out to your competitor for that prized contract.
Your audience is more than just a title, you need to understand them deeply.
You must keep your audience in mind all the time. You must tailor your message to meet their requirements, not yours.
Every audience you present to has different wants, wishes and challenges – it’s your job to find out as much as you can about your audience and tailor your message to meet their world.
Yes, it takes time but will be worthwhile when your audience feels valued and understood. Then they will feel positive towards listening—and ultimately opening the “chequebook”.
Three-Word Takeaway: Get Outside Yourself
2. Winging It
Following on from the point above, so often I hear sales executives saying they have no time to prepare for sales presentations or meetings, or that they feel they don’t need to prepare.
They say they have their “tried and tested” presentation. So they’ll just “wing it”.
It makes me tear my hair out! Even if you are an experienced presenter, this is not setting you up for success.
You need to remember that ultimately, you do not decide how good your sales presentation actually is or how good you are as a presenter; your audience (not you) is always the decision maker.
Even more importantly, they also get decide how they spend their money.
You need to get out of the habit of believing that “winging it” is enough.
If you want a greater level of success you need to realise that planning is vital. Yes, this requires thought and time, no question about that and this needs to be factored into your day/week.
How often do you start your presentation with some variation of this.
“Here’s our company, here’s our employee numbers, here are our services. Oh, here are our clients too. And here’s blah blah, blah…”
If you do just one thing today, make a commitment to yourself to notice when you’re being self-centred and to STOP right now!
Think about the last time you met someone out socially and they “rattled on and on” about their holiday, their family, their car or their job, and never once stopped to ask your opinion or about your life.
How did that make you feel?
Not great I’m guessing? You might even go so far as avoiding that person now.
Now think of that in a business context. If you want to build a relationship with a prospective client, do your research and find out about them before you launch into your message.
Then bring their world into your message.
Starting getting curious about your audience to understand their needs.
Three-Word Takeaway: Don’t Do Boring
4. Delivering 30-Minute Sales Presentations
Think about this for a moment.
What is your attention span when you sit in an audience?
How quickly do you get distracted? Of course it depends on the situation, but even if you’re being regaled with a Verdi operetta, it’s not uncommon that in any given moment of downtime you’ll feel a little twitchy and do something like checking your watch or your phone, right?
I have news for you.
Your audience is no different.
Equally they have a short attention span, so make sure you respect their time. To put it a different way, respect their attention span.
If you cannot communicate your sales presentation in 10 minutes (or under) in a concise, audience-focused and memorable way, then you probably are going to struggle getting your audience to make that decision you so badly require.
So share your short presentation and then open the meeting to a focussed discussion.
Three-Word Takeaway: Ten Minutes (Tops!)
5. Unleashing the Jargon
Tell me when you start groaning.
“It is what it is.”
“Do more with less.”
“Take it to the next level.”
“Let’s circle back.”
“Think outside the box.”
There are lots more where they came from. If you’re being really uncharitable, you could try a game of Cliché Bingo next time you hear a sales pitch.
I hear it so often—generic, clichéd, jargon-filled content that is simply meaningless to the audience.
There is absolutely nothing more exhausting for any audience. Yes, you might feel comfortable with this language and it can be your “go-to content” when you’re under pressure, but unfortunately for your business it is much more than likely to be raising the hackles of the audience.
So bear this four-step process in mind.
Make life as easy as possible for the audience
Strip back all banal clichés or complex corporate lingo
Speak in simple short sentences
Use real examples and stories to illustrate your points
Another four-step checklist. This time, four questions you should always ask yourself before any presentation:
Is this content meaningful and understandable to the audience?
Is this content relevant to the audience?
Is this content helping the audience make a decision?
Is this content relevant in helping me achieve my goal?
If you answer “No” to any of those four, you have to be ruthless. Delete!
Three-Word Takeaway: Watch Your Language
6. Sitting Down (Also Known As: Taking the Easy Option)
I am often told by sales executives I work with that they tend to sit down, open the laptop and “talk through the slides”.
Two things about this approach.
It is the safe and easy option
It is totally forgettable
Even that phrase—”Talk through the slides”—gives me the shivers.
I say, set yourself up for success.
Plan to stand up and fully own and inhabit your presentation.
If there are more than 3-4 people in your audience you will have a much greater impact in a room.
Yes, it’s true that sometimes you will be on a client’s site and there may be physical limitations. But be brave and take control.
Do whatever you need to investigate the room setup and technology in advance. It requires a quick call ahead of time, but it will send a clear message to your prospective client that you are focused on their meeting and giving them your full commitment.
Standing up does not mean you are formal. If you maintain a conversational style, you will be more memorable and professional.
Three-Word Takeaway: Stand and Deliver
7. Thinking Rehearsal is for Rookies
When we explain to our sales clients the importance of rehearsal, they look at us like we are crazy. Often they say “you don’t understand how busy we are” ! Wrong, we understand very well, we work with hundred of sales executives yearly. We also know how decisions are made by your clients and we know what a polished, confident presenter can achieve. So, imagine taking 30 minutes over the course of a few days, practicing your message aloud (not in your head pressing the slideshow button). This rehearsal will ensure you are confident, concise and polished – now that is priceless.
“Rehearse your message aloud at least three times – even if it’s in the car on the way to the meeting”
Three-Word Takeaway: Practice Makes Perfect
8. Playing the Blame Game
When we don’t secure the contract or business after a meeting or sales presentation, there are of course many reasons, but don’t jump to conclusions and blame (1) a biased member in the audience, (2) a product, (3) competitor advantage, (4) some other external factor. You must always ask yourself what you could have done differently, it is vital to do a debrief and self reflect:
Did you consider the client’s needs/challenges and create a compelling message for them?
Did you prepare relevant, tailored and memorable content for your audience?
Did you plan effectively and rehearse ahead of the meeting?
Did you have slides that were relevant to your client?
If you are answering “no” to any of these, then you need to re-assess, get feedback from the client or your colleagues and take ownership of your sales presentations. If you do you will have a much greater chance of securing that 6 figure contract.
Three-Word Takeaway: No More Blame
There you have it.
Eight things to bring into your sales presentation techniques to bring you so much closer to six-figure contracts.
Here’s a quick recap.
Get Outside Yourself
No Winging It
Don’t Do Boring
Ten Minutes (Tops!)
Watch Your Language
Stand and Deliver
Practice Makes Perfect
No More Blame
Finally, remember this.
Presentation skills are a muscle.
It responds to constant work. So NEVER stop developing your presentation muscle.
If you are an experienced sales presenter and have had great success, well done to you!
If, on the other hand, you want to stand out among today’s busy decision makers by presenting effectively to secure that contract, know that this is a skill that can be learned and practised.
At ConfidentSpeak we teach you how to use these skills and techniques to get the results you want, and we have designed a dedicated “Sales Communication Bootcamp” especially for Sales Executives.
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Would you like to be able to communicate with credibility and confidence? Imagine instantly improving any presentation or speech. Our Vocal Presence Programme is designed to help you do just that. Read on for more.
By Olivia MacDonnell, ConfidentSpeak
Imagine yourself instantly improving any presentation or speech, simply by you controlling your voice deliberately and then imagine consciously using your voice as an effective communication tool is a skill.
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