One of the best ways to make sure that your sales pitch is interactive is to send the prospect something ahead of time with a note saying, â€œWe can discuss this during our meeting.â€
A consultant I work with is involved in helping pharmaceutical firms comply with FDA rules. When theyâ€™re hired, they engage in highly complex compliance programs. He says, â€œWhen we go in for a sales presentation, we always send ahead a plan for how we will spend the first year of our engagement. Even if they donâ€™t read it, it gives us something to discuss with them. It helps make the pitch more like a work session than a pitch.â€
Virtually any business can use this tactic. If youâ€™re an attorney, send ahead a brief outline of thoughts on how to approach winning the lawsuit. If youâ€™re an architect, send ahead design ideas that your listeners can react to. If youâ€™re a software engineer, send ahead key issues with the software installation that youâ€™d like to discuss.
And donâ€™t worry too much about sending out something that the prospect wonâ€™t initially embrace as the final answer. The point here is not to send out a perfect solution. The point is to give something that will get the conversation started, transforming your presentation from a pitch to a working session.
A study of what makes people fall in love has implications for helping speakers connect with audiences.Â Specifically, the more personal stuff you reveal about yourself, the more likely your audience is to like you.
At least thatâ€™s the conclusion that we draw from aÂ study about what makes people fall in love.Â
In the study, researchers at the State University of New York at Stony Brook gave pairs of students scripts that urged them to reveal things about themselves in varying degrees. The pairs that revealed more about themselves tended to form closer personal bonds. In fact one pair got married.
What does all this mean for those that want to connect better with an audience?Â Simple. The more you reveal about yourself during a presentation, the more the audience will like you.Â
Indeed, at Speechworks, we urge our clients to tell stories about themselves as part of the presentation.Â Certainly you want to tell about your own success stories. If youâ€™re trying to persuade a client to hire your accounting firm, tell stories about your own experiences solving other similar accounting problems.
But itâ€™s also a good idea to weave personal details about yourself in the course of the presentation.Â Letting people know that you have children or are learning to play tennis are personal details that will help you connect with the audience.
Next time you have to put together a speech, let the audience in on some personal details of your life. They’ll fall in love with you.
If you don’t want people thinking that you’re Dilbert, don’t start creating presentation before you’ve come up with what you want to say.
Take out a blank sheet of paper and write down the three “bumper stickers” that you absolutely want your listeners to remember above all else. Then think about how you want to illustrate your presentation. It may be that you don’t even need slides.
That’s a question I get a lot.Â And unfortunately, the answer differs for men and women.
The one rule for both sexes is ask.Â If you’re not sure how to dress for a presentation, ask someone who knows the audience.
“I”m going to be speaking at the board meeting next week. How do people dress for those meetings?” Or “I’m going to be speaking at a your conference, how do people dress for these presentations?”
If you’re not sure, then men can simplyÂ dress a half step above what everyone else is wearing. If everyone is wearing golf shirts, then put a jacket over your golf shirt. If everyone is wearing jackets with open collars, then put on a tie.
For women, choices are more difficult because much of the business world still has a double standard, expecting women to dress nicer than men.Â Also, women’s clothes are more complicated than men’s clothes.Â
In general, we recommend that women shouldÂ wear tailored, more conservativeÂ clothes to presentations.Â
Here’s a link to a nice discussion of women’s business attire.
I was in a workshop recently when I noticed my constant use of the phrase “vis-a-vis.” Â
Thinking back now, I can’t remember how I used it. But all of a sudden, the phrase just kept coming out of my mouth. It really started to bother me and I asked class members to touch their noses every time I said the phrase. I stopped Â instantly.
I tell you this as an example of how easily it is to fall into using jargon. Â The problem with jargon is that it’s not always clear. Â The meaning is often muddled. And if you’re muddled, you’re not connecting with your audience like you should.
Yesterday I ran across a fun list of “10 Words to Ban” from the business lexicon. The list was compiled by blogger David Silverman.
On the list, my favorite is “people manager.”Â Writes Silverman, “as opposed to ‘Goldfish supervisor?'”
Check out the latest review of my book How to Win a Pitch: The Five Fundamentals of that Will Distinguish You from the Competition.
The review is by Karen Schweitzer, the Business School columnist for About.com. She wrote
How to Win a Pitch is so good, so packed with practical advice, that it should be considered required reading for every sales professional. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn how to deliver an effective sales pitch or presentation.
Â To read the full review, click here.
Geni Whitehouse isÂ one nerd who will be heard. And if you have nerdy tendencies and need help getting your message across, then you need toÂ listen to her.
IÂ first met Geni Whitehouse when she called me several years ago after having read my first book “Even a Geek Can Speak.”
When we met for lunch, she explained that she was a CPA who was passionate about communication. She attended our program and over the years has continued honing her skills to the point where she has now become a communication expert in her own right.
Having worked as a CPA and an executive at a software firm, she has opened her own communications firm “Even A Nerd Can Be Heard,”Â which specializes in helping accounting firms and technology firms communicate with impact.
She has also written a great new bookÂ called How to Make a BoringÂ Subject Interesting: 52 ways even a nerd can be heard.Â Â The book has 52 shortÂ chapters that are easy to read and have lots of great ideas on how to spice up any subject.
ForÂ example, how can you give an interesting presentation on how to work with your technical support department? She recommends creating a game of “TechnicalÂ Support Jeopardy” and providing cash and prizes for the right answers.Â
Geni has a sampling of the book on her website.Â
If you wantÂ to learn how toÂ liven up boring subjects, readÂ Geni’s book.