Posts Tagged ‘persuasive speaking’

Elevator Speeches: Demonstrate Your Ability to Solve Your Prospects’ Problems

Monday, February 27th, 2017

Does your elevator speech project your interest in your prospects and their needs?  Or does it project your interest in yourself?

During networking situations, your conversation partners may be wondering “What’s in this for me?”  Here are three basic steps to help you focus on what your prospects care about most – which should become what you care about most!

Step 1:

Identify the benefits that your products and services have for your listeners and their organizations.  It’s all about the benefits:

  1. Increasing profits
  2. Improving productivity
  3. Reducing the cost of doing business
  4. Enhancing their competitive edge

Mention the benefits that are of greatest interest to your listeners at that moment.

Step 2:

Edit your content to be as concise as possible – 30 seconds is a good length.  One way to hook listeners is to identify a problem that you can solve: a problem that makes them think,  “I have that problem, too, and I really want a solution!”

Step 3:

Use phrases that help you sound authentic and conversational:  language that is “mouth and ear friendly”:   easy for you to speak and easy for your listeners to hear and repeat.  Your elevator speech should be memorable.

To summarize:

  1. Focus on the benefits that your listeners care about most
  2. Mention a problem that you can solve: one that they want solved!
  3. Make it conversational, brief, and easy for listeners to repeat

Create an elevator speech that demonstrates your ability to address the needs of your prospects, and they will be interested!

 

Speaking Mistakes: Humility Saves Face

Sunday, June 26th, 2016

Have you ever made a mistake during a business meeting or conversation: a big mistake that was obvious to everyone?  You don’t have to lose face in situations like these.  Here is a tip that will help you save face.

At one point or another, in your professional life, you may at one time or another, have dropped the balls. You said the most inappropriate thing or your spoken mistake that everyone noticed was a serious one.  These situations present two choices for you.  You can

1:   Pretend that it didn’t happen:  this is never advisable when you are sure that everyone noticed your mistake!

2:   Accept that you dropped the balls and demonstrate humility.

Humility might be an instant and sincere apology. It might be self-deprecating humor.  It might be that you allow others to see you try with your heart and soul to correctly your mistake and maybe even fail to correct it!  Humility means that we accept our right relationship with nature and allow people to see our human-ness.  Because human beings make mistakes and are sometimes wrong — and most everyone we do business with can identify with that.

Humility is a very importance ingredient in successful business speaking.  It’s not a weakness.  It’s actually strategic.  It’s a quality that makes us approachable, more likeable, and more attractive to do business with.

Building Credibility When You Speak: The Value of “Acting Objectives”

Sunday, May 31st, 2015

Savvy professionals apply acting techniques to help enhance their credibility and gravitas when they speak for business.  They know that they need to build belief within the listeners, so they borrow techniques that actors have used for decades.  So can you.

Crafted actors spend years perfecting a craft that is designed to build belief.  This is why advertisers so often rely upon actors and their craft:  they understand that actors’ techniques and performance skills are fundamental to the business of selling any idea, product, or service.

When actors are preparing a role, they make careful choices about what actions to take, to help the audience believe that the make believe situation is real.  For actors, it’s all about actions; for actors, actions speak much louder than words.

To prepare, actors create “acting objectives”.  These are actions that lie underneath the words – actions they plan to take toward their listeners.  This helps actors to be motivated to speak the words that the playwright or screenwriter wrote, and speak them truthfully, authentically, and conversationally.

In rehearsal and performance, actors pursue their acting objectives as if their lives depended on it.   This helps the audience believe that the actor and the character are one and the same:  that the actor IS the character.

This applies to you when you speak for business for two important reasons:

  1. You want your business listeners to believe something: to believe that you have solutions to their problems, for example.  The more rigorously you pursue your actions (your acting objectives), the more completely your audience will believe:  believe that you and your message are one and the same; believe that you are your message.
  2. Whenever you are speaking for business, when you make listeners believe, they are very likely to overlook minor shortcomings or mistakes you might make.

Throughout my acting career, and as a professional speaker, I have occasionally neglected to rehearse with the use of acting objectives.  Invariably, whenever I have neglected to use this technique, I lost the acting job or failed to engage my business listeners.

Your business speaking/presentations will never be perfect; there will always be something to improve upon and something that you might consider to have been slightly “negative” in your “performance”.   Without the use of acting objectives in your preparation, you significantly reduce your ability to make business listeners believe.  When that happens, your listeners have little to focus on BUT the negative.

Once you have helped your business listeners believe, you’ve won them over to your side.  After that, they will forgive you almost anything!

 

Rehearse Your Elevator Speech, Part 2; Additional Guidelines for the “Endowment” Technique

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

Today, I’ll share more about how you can project spontaneity and authenticity in your elevator speech by rehearsing with the actor’s technique called “Endowment”.  Here is a summary of the steps:

Step 1:  Choose a person from your real life in who has qualities that help you feel liked, trusted, and respected when you speak with him or her.  Step 2:  Choose a spot to place your focus, and imagine your business listener, right there in front of you.   Step 3:  Endow your imaginary listener with these same qualities that help you feel liked, trusted, and respected.  As you say your elevator speech aloud, speak AS IF you were in conversation with the person from your life. 

Here are some additional guidelines for the Endowment process.

1.  It’s very important to be flooded with positive feelings as you rehearse this, so choosing the “right” person to feed your imagination is key.  Experiment with the technique of Endowment by imagining various people from your life, in order to discover which one person most effectively triggers your expression of warmth and relaxation when you are speaking.

2.  Never tell anyone the identity of the person you have chosen to “use” for this process.  Keeping it a secret will increase the power that the Endowment technique will have on your demeanor and delivery.  

3.  The technique of endowment may be challenging at first, so rehearse aloud as often as possible.  Over time, rehearsal of the endowment process will help you focus your mind in a very useful way.  It will help you create an emotional environment for yourself:   to project authenticity and spontaneity when you’re networking and meeting with prospects and clients.

Using the Endowment technique has a secondary benefitit will keep your mind so focused on the task at hand, that you’ll have very little emotional availability to be nervous or self-conscious.

This is a way to use rehearsal strategically:  it will prepare your for a spontaneous and authentic presentation of yourself and your business message.

Put Your Business Listeners At Ease: Speak With a Lightness of Being

Monday, June 24th, 2013

http://youtu.be/8-opt6b5A1A

Business listeners respond well to a speaker’s positive energy and lightness of being.  As a speaker, you can project this kind of lightness by doing a quick emotional clearing in advance — the way actors do before going on stage.

At least an hour before you have that important business conversation, meeting, or presentation, do the following:

  1.  Take your “emotional temperature”.  Identify your current emotional state:  happy, sad, nervous, excited, disappointed, excited, angry, etc.
  2.  Find a private area to release these emotions in a big way, even if it feels exaggerated or  “phony” to do so.  For example, you can jump for joy, shout, laugh out loud, shed a few tears, if necessary; whatever you need to do to release your emotions, especially the ones that are less pleasant.
  3.  Do some deep breathing with long, slow exhalations to a count of ten; then stretch out your arms, legs, back, and shoulders to release your emotions more fully.

If you are having any emotions that will not serve to enhance your speaking delivery, releasing those emotions in advance will decrease the power they have over you and will decrease any negative impact they might have on the way you speak.

You will be more “present” with your listeners and more available to respond to them authentically “in the moment”.

You will be free to use you positive and upbeat energy to engage and inspire your listeners — with a lightness of being that will help put them (and you) at ease.

 

 

 

 

Feel & Look Energized By Sharpening Your Mental Focus

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

http://youtu.be/MuHNNnrus0A

You can sharpen your mental focus right before an important business conversation or presentation.  Here are two simple techniques that will help you feel and look fully present and energized.

You probably know that actors warm up their bodies and voices right before a performance.  Well, they also warm up their brains before they go on stage!   As a business professional, you can sharpen your mental focus before you speak, in the same way that actors do, right before they go on stage.

Before you enter the room where you’ll be speaking for business, find a private spot, and try the following:

  1. Busy your brain with arithmetic!  That’s right:  Do arithmetic, starting with small sums.  Add numbers like 64 and 27.  After a few combinations like this, graduate to larger figures, like 459 and 3897.   It really is OK if your answers are not correct; the point of the exercise is to work the brain; to make the effort.
  2. Busy your brain with Jeapardy; just like the game show!  Think of any simple category.  Speak/whisper all the words you can think of that belong in that category.  When your ideas stop flowing relatively easily, change the category and repeat the exercise.  Categories like “capital cities of the world” and “languages of the world”, etc., are good ways to begin.  The choice of categories is almost endless.  Choose categories that are challenging enough to work your brain and  that give you a sense of achievement.

Mental gymnastics will energize you and help you feel and look authoritative. They are very useful tools to help you deliver your ideas with confidence and focus!

 

 

“Take Stage” to Engage Your Business Listeners

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

http://youtu.be/yMKr1xAI3oM

You can engage your business listeners fully by “taking stage”:  capturing their attention and keeping it.

How do professional actors get the audience’s attention and keep them riveted to the action of a play? One answer is that they take stage: they inhabit the space with a “do or die” purpose and an attitude of complete belonging.

Business professionals need to do the same thing, in order to persuade and inspire your business listeners, whether you are speaking one on one, or to a group; whether you are speaking informally, or delivering a PowerPoint presentation.

Here are three techniques to help you take stage –to command your listeners’ attention and keep it:

1.  Before you begin, situate yourself in a position of power whenever possible.  When you are speaking to a group, that’s usually front and center.  Whether you are seated or standing, begin with both feet planted firmly on the ground, and imagine that your legs are tree trunks and that your feet are roots extending deep into the ground. This initial grounding helps you claim the space as your own and gives weight to your movements. It helps you project confidence and authority.

2.  If you’re standing, stand away from furniture and resist any temptation to lean for support. If someone offers you a podium when you speak to a group, politely decline it whenever possible, unless you truly need it.  You want to eliminate as many physical barriers as possible that might come between you and your audience. If you must use a podium, stand tall and don’t lean on it!

3.  If you have handouts for a talk, whenever possible, distribute them after your talk has ended — not before or during the talk.  Giving people material to read during your talk encourages them to focus on the written word and encourages them to ignore you!  Giving material in advance can send the message that your listeners might just as effectively have read your talk — that they did not need to hear you live and in person!

Take stage to engage your listeners.  Better yet, take stage to captivate your business listeners!

 

To Speak With Great Impact, Reveal Who YOU Are!

Monday, March 25th, 2013

http://youtu.be/IDM9d7wxBmM

You can increase the impact that you have on your business listeners by revealing who YOU are when you speak!

Consider the impact that actors have on their audiences. Many years ago, Marlon Brando said, “Acting is the ancient, instinctive art of representing ourselves to others in a way that reflects how we truly are.”

Successful business speaking also reflects how we truly are. It shows your business listeners what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, and how they might do it better. It also shows them how you, the speaker, truly are. And that means WHO you are.

Convincing actors and persuasive business speakers make their greatest impact through self-revelation.

To play a character convincingly and make the audience believe, actors reveal truths that lie in the deepest places of their own hearts: truths that lie inside every heart. The ability to reveal what is both personal and at the same time universal creates for the audience a transformative experience: when audiences recognize themselves in a character – when they can identify — they can understand more about our human condition, our limitations, and, most importantly, our potential.

This ability to reveal what is personal and at the same time universal is important in business speaking, too. Whether you are giving a power point presentation or talking with a prospect on a sales call, revealing who YOU are is a key ingredient in making a deep connection with your listeners and building their trust.

When you prepare to speak for business, decide what you will reveal about yourself in the following areas:
1. Your personal perspective about your business message
2. Your appreciation of your listeners and your enjoyment in speaking with them
3. True stories from your own life that will help illustrate your message

Be sure that your communication is supported by your vocal delivery, your body language, and every aspect of your demeanor.

Reveal who YOU are when you speak, to build trust and make your greatest impact!

Command Attention with the Surprising Pause

Monday, July 30th, 2012

http://youtu.be/Y6J2tqiXENc

In my last blog, I wrote about your use of pauses, to allow your ideas to land when you speak & engage your listeners.

Today, I’m going to talk about the power of the surprising pause. Successful business speakers, like good actors, use the surprising pause strategically to command attention and add depth to their message. The element of surprise is a key factor in capturing and keeping your listeners’ attention when you speak for business. Pausing at meaningful and surprising moments can be helpful to you in three ways:

1.   It creates variety in your delivery:  A moment of unexpected silence provides the greatest contrast to a stream of words.

2.   It creates suspense:  It teases your listeners for a moment, making them want to hear more.

3.   It gives your listeners a window into your inner world:  Listeners want to know what is “going on” with the speaker underneath the words.  A surprising pause filled with meaning allows your listeners to observe a different quality in your expressiveness and gain additional perspectives.

In the video version of this blog, I demonstrate now just how effective a surprising pause can be. You may wish to view that now; simply click the thumbnail for the video.

If you prefer to continue reading:
I use the following sentence as an example of the use of the surprising pause. It’s a sentence about concept of supply and demand: an excerpt from a play called Other People’s Money, by Jerry Sterner; which was first produced Off Broadway and later made into a film with Richard Dreyfus.  Here is the sentence:
“One day, when the dollar is weaker or the yen stronger, or when we finally begin to rebuild the roads, the bridges, the infrastructure of our country, demand will skyrocket.”

Logical but predictable moments to pause would be after the words, “day, stronger, and country”.   A more interesting choice would be to add meaningful pauses after the words, “dollar, yen, and demand”.   The surprise and suspense created in those moments leads to a more compelling delivery.

As you rehearse your business talk, consider why and when you will pause. Take logical, meaningful pauses at moments when those pauses might be most surprising.

Make your delivery truly compelling —  and captivate your listeners!

How to Engage Your Listeners by Allowing Ideas to ‘Land’ (Part 3): The Brief Pause

Monday, June 25th, 2012

http://youtu.be/RC9A14CsNmM

In today’s videoblog, I’ll share the third and final step in my three-part series called “How to Engage Your Listeners by Allowing Your Ideas to Land.”

In my last two videoblogs, I talked about the first two steps in this process: (1) Speak in complete thoughts and (2) pursue your point with energy and focus.

Today, I’ll share step three: Pause briefly after speaking a complete thought, to allow the idea to “land”.

Successful business speakers, like good actors, always consider pacing when they prepare to speak. The tempo of the spoken word has a strong impact on the listener and directly influences the way speakers are perceived. This raises the issue of pausing.

Even the smartest and best listeners need a moment to digest a complete thought. When you are speaking face-to face or on camera, your listeners need time to interpret meaning from a broad palette:  a palette that includes your visual as well as vocal delivery.  So, pauses are important.

A University of Michigan study revealed that speakers who never paused had the lowest success rate in getting listeners to do what they wanted them to do.  The great British actor, John Gielgud, famously said that, when acting Shakespeare, the pauses are the most important moments of the speech!    He knew that pauses can be captivating.

Help your business listeners receive the full impact of your message by giving them the gift of time. Pause briefly after each complete thought, to let it “land”. Don’t be in a rush to go on to your next idea. The pause will also give you time to get a reading on your listener’s understanding and engagement level. During the pause, breathe deeply and maintain good eye contact.

Without the pauses, your listeners may feel overwhelmed by an unmanageable amount of input. They may lose some of your meaning; they might even tune you out.

When you give your listeners time to process each thought, you are respecting their needs while you communicate your own conviction that your message is important.

Never underestimate the power of the pause!