By Jess Todtfeld
Giving speeches and presentations can be one of your greatest networking and closing business strategies. But, do you Speak to Close? As a presentation coach to CEOs, U.N. officials and other business leaders, I often find that an average presentation creates average results.
We can do better. Every time you speak to people whether it be one-on-one or one-to-many, you should be driving attention and creating new and deeper relationships. Here are 7 game changers:
1. Be Memorable.
One of our most important goals, any time we speak, is to be memorable. If what we are saying is important, people need to remember what was said, and be in a position to ACT on it. Action is what we are after. If it were only about sharing information, sending an email would be enough.
So, how can we create content that is memorable? People have a much easier time remembering visuals as opposed to text and lists of data points. this is where stories and anecdotes come in. This combined with data points solidifies material in other peoples brains. It also connects with them on both an intellectual and emotional level. The same goes for images in a PowerPoint. For example, I was working with a client who put together a fund portfolio that included farmland. It was one thing to speak about how technology can deliver just the right amount of water depending on the crop. When pictures were added showing the gadgets that make this possible, the eyes of the investment bankers on the receiving end widened and the information became sticky.
Using stories and/or pictures mixed with data points helps to make the information more interesting, more relate-able, and more memorable. Also, each story needs to have a message … or point. The expectation when most people speak, either one-on-one or one-to-many, is that it will be dry, just the facts, and unfortunately boring. Being memorable, using visuals both in speech or on-screen, will help you to defy expectation.
2. Practice, even once. Most people deliver their first draft. (And… you must video record.)
As a coach, I hear people say the same thing after giving a speech or presentation. People say “If I could only do that over again, it would be so much better.” What they are really saying is that the first time they presented for real, was in front of clients, prospects, or their boss. Our first draft is never perfect. Why would people share that version with the world? The answer… no one makes time for practice because they think it will take too long and they don’t realize how it can mitigate pain. We can solve both.
Here is the fix: Practice… even once. If you can’t practice all of your presentation, practice 5 or 10 minutes of it. That will give you a barometer of how you are doing. Are you stumbling through? Do you have great examples or stories to backup your information? Are you saying um or ah constantly because you don’t have your content and delivery down. If so, that is important information to know before you are in front of people. But, there is one other, very important ingredient.
Video record your practice. The old recommendation was to practice in front of the mirror. The problem is, it is asking people to both practice and critique themselves at the same time. That is too hard of a task. A video recording is a powerful tool for knowing what you need to adjust. Most people shy away from doing this usually for vanity reasons. Of course messing up or being boring in front of others should be enough motivation. After a couple of practices, people start to see the value. When I work with clients, people must learn how to become a fair critic. When they see themselves, it’s not just about seeing everything they hate, but figuring out what works/what their strengths are and delivering more of that. This approach is very similar to the Gallup organization’s strengths-based approach.
3. Focus on the outcomes – What do others want?
This is taken from the sales world. Let’s face it, we are always selling something whether it is a product, ideas, or ourselves. When speaking, people tend to focus on facts, data, and features. The outcome is what people want. The outcome is what wakes others up. People want something that is a result. The more we can focus on the results we are after and the path to get there, the more engaged people are. Want a simple way to find out what results people want? Ask them! Then, focus on giving them what they want and need.
You might have expected that I would have written seven tips about body language and moving your hands. While all of that is important, business leaders know that activating others and creating real results is most important. One technique for speaking to the outcome, is being able to speak to what is sometimes called the reptilian part of the brain. This is actually the gatekeeper as information comes in. On the receiving end, we asked ourselves “is this important for my survival, even my business survival.” (Neuroscientist Paul MacLean wrote about this in his books and studies.) This is where we need to communicate in many business situations.
4. Deliver Massive Value … and the Teriyaki Chicken approach
Many of us have had the experience of hearing a speaker either on a big stage or one-on-one who does not deliver much value. We know when we’ve gotten actionable ideas. We know when we have received strategies we can use. We also know when we walk away and learned/gained nothing.
This is why people need to be committed to becoming someone that always delivers massive value. The push back I get from many clients is that they are afraid of giving away too much content or answers. The good news is, on the receiving end, people tend to think “if that is how much he/she gave me now, how much more must they know?”
When you are someone who is always trying to deliver massive value, you get known for that.
One other technique I like to teach is called the Teriyaki Chicken Approach. You may have had the experience where you walked past restaurants in a shopping mall. Often there is someone there with a plate of teriyaki chicken. Each of those pieces has a toothpick in it. This is their free sample. As we pass, if this is something that appeals to us, (they are qualifying us) we try the free sample. These restaurants know that this is an easy way to convert people into those who move forward and act… by what they’re selling.
The question is, what is your Teriyaki Chicken? What can you give away, while presenting and speaking, that delivers massive value and was a free sample of what you do.
5. Learn to Love Objections
While many people worry about the fear of speaking, often it is really a fear of the unknown. We worry how people will receive what we are saying. We worry that they may ask something that we are not prepared for. Many of the things they ask might be considered objections. We all have to learn to love objections. Objections to what you say give you insight into what the other person is thinking and receiving. It actually gives you a chance to respond to their thoughts and be able to deal with those objections. This is a very important ingredient any time we speak. It is deadly to have people on the receiving end nod their head, leave and do nothing.
So in order to figure out objections, we need to set the stage early and let them know that objections are welcome and that you want to hear them. The byproduct of doing this is that you get credit for being very confident. Talk about making a big impact This is not the norm and will help you stand out.
6. Mistakes and problems… This is your time to shine
Another big worry people have is over the mistakes they might make or problems they may encounter. Here is a big secret… People want to see how you perform when things don’t go your way. People want to see you shine when things get tough. So, whether you stumble over some words, knock over a water bottle, or have a PowerPoint projector go down… People want to see what you’ll do next. They want to see how you handle a tough situation and rise from it. This is your opportunity to show them that you are able to deliver your content regardless of any of those things.
7. Be like Nike and Just Do It
If you are not already speaking at conferences and events where your right fit prospect hangs out, it’s time to say yes and make it happen. Agree and put it on your calendar even when you think you are not ready yet. Here’s the surprise, you will rise to the occasion because you have to. And, once you’ve gone out and created a talk, it will become something you can deliver again and again … and improve on.
Don’t read off a PowerPoint. We all agreed years ago that we don’t like being read to and that words on a screen are boring. Instead, give your deck as a handout and talk to people. Look them in the eye. PowerPoint or any other peripherals should only be used to enhance not take away from your presentation.
Jess Todtfeld, CSP is a Presentation Coach whose specialty is financial service clients and c-suite executives.
His unique brand of speaking/presentation training is called “Speak to Close… for Financial Service Professionals.” It has been delivered to clients that include IBM, JPMorgan, LinkedIn, Land Rover, and the United Nations. Todtfeld, President of Success In Media, inc. has been a leader in the communication industry for more than 20 years. Reach him at his web sites: www.JessTodtfeld.com & www.SpeakToClose.com.