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Speaking Up Isn't Hard to Do

Posted by Bill Rosenthal on Wed, Jul 29, 2015 @ 07:30 AM

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Speaking with strong volume when you present will keep your audience more engaged than speaking at a soft volume level. But how do you speak loudly enough so everyone can hear you easily without straining your voice or damaging your vocal cords?

A speaker sustained damaged vocal cords from a medical situation. As part of her speech therapy, she picked up these two tips for using her volume effectively:

  • When you speak, relax your tongue. Create a big open space in your mouth and the back of your throat-imagine a space big enough for you to swallow a ping pong ball.
  • Make sure you breathe from your diaphragm so you support your voice.
Doing these two simple things should help you speak loudly enough without strain. Your audience will hear you easily and will continue to listen to your message.


Interested in learning tips for using volume effectively? Communispond offers two programs on how to present more effectively: Executive Presentation Skills and EPS Anywhere.

Learn more about Executive Presentation Skills >

Learn more about EPS Anywhere >

Want to start a conversation?

Contact us and we'll reach out shortly >

Tags: Echo, Presentation Tips, Presentation Skills

Selling Skills: Planning a Sales Meeting

Posted by Bill Rosenthal on Mon, Jul 27, 2015 @ 09:27 AM

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No matter how much information you find on a prospective customer, his company, and his industry, you really can’t know a customer well until you sit in his office and talk with him. One of your goals for the sales meeting is to acquire information you need to understand the customer and his needs. Here are some of the things you want to learn by engaging the customer during the meeting, then listening and probing: 

  • What value does the customer’s business put on your product?
  • What’s the company’s decision-making process for buying a product like yours?
  • What’s the range of the budget?
  • How urgent is the need?
  • When do they want it?
  • How will they implement the decision to buy?
  • Which of your competitors will they be looking at?
  • What is their current business relationship with your competitor(s)?
  • Which of your competitors have they talked to?
  • How does the customer perceive your company?
  • Whom else in the company should you speak with?

What might you hope to achieve in the meeting? In the best of all possible worlds, the customer buys your product the first time you meet with her. We rarely find ourselves in the best of all possible worlds, which is why we have a sales process – to guide us through the multiple meetings until the purchase is made. Nevertheless, you may as well put a sale at the top of your list of outcomes you are seeking, just so you don’t miss the opportunity if it arises. Here are the possible achievements for the meeting:

  • a sale
  • referral inside or outside the company
  • agreement to advance you to a committee or the next level
  • agreement to provide information
  • agreement to try a sample
  • agreement to respond to further information you’ll provide
  • agreement to consider a formal proposal
  • agreement to advance your idea within the company
  • agreement to a follow-up meeting
  • agreement to see a product demo

With your background information, your goals for what you want to learn, and your goals for what you want to achieve, you’ll be ready to make the best use of every meeting and move the sale that much closer to completion. 

Some sales professionals look down on this planning process, preferring a seat-of-the-pants approach. They believe that if they can just engage the customer, they can bring their interpersonal skills to bear and make the sale. But recent research has shown that sales success requires more than interpersonal skill. The organizations (and the individual sales professionals) that achieve the most success are those that adopt a formal sales process and stick to it.

This is one of the reasons so many organizations are turning to Salesforce.com®. Salesforce.com can be used to formalize your sales process, i.e., to make explicit the path to a sale and the individual steps along that path. But you have to know how to use it, which is why we created Momentum Selling for Salesforce.com®. Our program helps sales professionals acquire the skills they need to make the best use of their organizations’ Salesforce.com implementations. In other words, it enforces the formal sales process and sets you up for success.

Tags: Sales Tips, Sales, Communication Skills Training, communication

Ask Open Questions

Posted by Bill Rosenthal on Thu, Jul 23, 2015 @ 09:00 AM

ThinkstockPhotos-122481648Open questions encourage your customer to give you a longer, more detailed response, without feeling like they're being interrogated. You get more information without having to work so hard to draw it out of your customer.

Begin your open questions with:

  • "What...?"
  • "Why...?"
  • "How...?"
Some examples of open questions that can get you detailed information:
  • "What are your plans for this quarter?"
  • "How are you going to roll out your new product?"
  • "Why is that initiative important to your business?"
Here's another one: What open question can you ask your customer to give you critical information that will move your sale forward?

Interested in learning more about how to master the art of asking open questions? Communispond offers many programs that incorporate the importance of asking open questions, but to name a few: Socratic Selling Skills®, Persuasive Dialogue, and Momentum Selling for Salesforce.com®.

Learn more about Socratic Selling Skills® >

Learn more about Persuasive Dialogue >

Learn more about Momentum Selling for a Salesforce.com® >

Want to start a conversation?

Contact us and we'll reach out shortly >

Tags: Presentation Tips, Presentation Skills

Fight or Flight

Posted by Bill Rosenthal on Wed, Jul 22, 2015 @ 09:00 AM

ThinkstockPhotos-87681266When you present, does your heartbeat accelerate? Do you get butterflies or a knot in your stomach? Do your muscles feel tight? Walter Bradford Cannon, M.D., coined the term "fight or flight" in 1915 to describe an animal's response to threats.

This term explains a lot as it relates to giving presentations. When you step in front of your audience, your digestive system is disrupted, your muscles contract, and your blood pressure elevates. On top of that, a whole bunch of chemical reactions kick in. It would be easier to run than to face the unknown of your audience. To counteract these symptoms:
  • Avoid caffeine and sugar. Your body already has a heightened awareness and doesn't need any more energy
  • Walk around backstage or out in the hall to work off some of the nervous energy
  • Swing your arms in circles
  • Shake out your hands
  • Relax your shoulders (you might try a yoga exercise)
  • Take a deep breath before you begin

Then, when you step in front of your audience, you'll feel less threatened when presenting and be able to hold your ground without "fighting or fleeing."


Interested in learning more tips to control nervousness? Communispond offers two programs on how to present more effectively and confidently: Executive Presentation Skills and EPS Anywhere.

Learn more about Executive Presentation Skills >

Learn more about EPS Anywhere >

Want to start a conversation?

Contact us and we'll reach out shortly >

Tags: Presentation Tips, Presentation Skills

Presentation Skills: 5 Beliefs that Sabotage Your Performance

Posted by Bill Rosenthal on Mon, Jul 20, 2015 @ 09:16 AM

stk147068rke-1The platform part of the presentation may be the smallest part in terms of the time you spend on it. But it is the only part the audience sees. I wanted to share with you five common beliefs that can cause the most damage to your success on the platform.

The plan is a lifeboat. Because you put so much into your presentation plan, you may cling to it as if it will keep you from drowning. But success does not consist of “covering” everything in your plan. Success consists of getting your main point or recommendation across. If you discover the audience already knows the background you think they need in order to understand your message, don’t then go ahead and give them all that background. Try to be as flexible as you would be in a one-to-one conversation. We’ve all attended the data dump masquerading as a presentation. It’s not pleasant for the audience, and it doesn’t serve your purpose as a presenter, whether that purpose is to persuade or inform.

The equipment is a mystery. If you fumble with the audiovisual equipment or software, nobody in the audience is going to find it charming or cute. You may think that your personal struggle with unfamiliar equipment is amusing, but it really isn’t. Any time you feel the need to apologize for showing the wrong slide or for an equipment malfunction, you test the audience’s sympathy, receptiveness, and patience. Make sure you understand your equipment and software, and that includes a plan for continuing the presentation when it stops working right.

Your nervousness is amusing. Everybody is nervous about public speaking, but acknowledging your nervousness to the audience does not give you something in common with them. In fact, it isolates you from them. They have come with the expectation of receiving your message, and they are rooting for you. But when you share your nervousness, they perceive it as an attempt to shift that nervousness on to them. In addition, talking about your nervousness simply reinforces it. The only way to overcome nervousness is to throw yourself into the presentation so you are thinking about your message instead of your fears. 

You’re too professional to display enthusiasm. Children and young people tend to be enthusiastic, so in business, one of the ways we show our maturity is by curbing our enthusiasm. But when you present without enthusiasm, the audience wonders why you are going through the effort of giving a presentation if you don’t care about the topic. You’re never going to win them over if they can’t sense how you feel about the topic. Communicate your enthusiasm, not your boredom, to them.

You don’t need training to do this. Most people create a presentation by opening PowerPoint, choosing a template, substituting their own text for the headlines, and inserting their charts. Then they just show the slides to the audience as they read aloud what’s on the screen. This is a disservice to both the audience and your message. You are the most important prop in the presentation. If you’re going to give a presentation, acquire platform presentation skills. These consist of engaging language, audience eye contact, body language, expressive speech, and interacting with visuals. Watch effective presenters to learn these skills. Or, better yet, take Executive Presentation Skills®. It will help you develop, refine, and deliver powerful presentations to groups of any size.

Tags: Presentation Tips, communication, Sales Presentation, Presentation Skills

Discipline

Posted by Bill Rosenthal on Thu, Jul 16, 2015 @ 08:30 AM

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Building good customer relationships requires discipline. In our world of Socratic Selling, it's the discipline of using the power of active listening and effective questioning to thoroughly understand a customer's needs. You work to understand the customer's world, and the customer comes first. But that discipline doesn't end there.

To truly build a customer relationship that will stand the test of time, you need to put the customer first at every step of the way:

  • As you're listening and questioning- understanding their situation the way they see it

  • As you create your solution-linking your solution to what's important to the customer

  • As you resolve issues that stand in the way of moving forward - understanding their perspective before you respond

  • As you set next steps to move the process forward 

  • Every time you follow up with that customer

That's the ultimate discipline of building customer relationships based on mutual trust and professional respect.

Tags: Sales Tips, Sales, Connection

End with Impact

Posted by Bill Rosenthal on Wed, Jul 15, 2015 @ 08:30 AM

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This tip came from one of our long-time clients and friends. It ties nicely to a quote we found from T.S. Eliot:

"...to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from."

As you're reaching the end of your presentation, whether it's wrapping up your speech or handling the last of your audience's questions, make sure you're setting the stage for what happens after your presentation is finished.

End by repeating your main points one more time. You could:

  • Restate your purpose

or

  • Give your audience a one-sentence capsule of your key message

When you do, you end strong like you began, and you make your ending the beginning of what happens next for your audience-the last thing they hear is what they need to know or what action they need to take next.

Tags: Echo, Presentation Tips, Public Speaking

Presentation Skills: Make Your Visuals Work for You

Posted by Bill Rosenthal on Mon, Jul 13, 2015 @ 09:15 AM

Presentation SkillsHere's how untrained people usually approach a presentation. They gather information and organize their thoughts. They use the information and thoughts to make a great set of visuals with charts, tables, bullet points, and amusing or meaningful images. Then they stand in front of the audience and put the visuals up one after another, using them as prompts for what they want to say, which often involves reading them aloud.

This can be a successful technique, in that it leaves a roomful of witnesses that you have given the presentation. Word will usually get back to your boss that you did what was asked of you. Can anyone ask for more than that?

Well, yes.

A presentation is a stage performance, and a stage performance consists of a performer and the props the performer uses to support the performance. If you treat your visuals as the center of attention, they become the performer and leave you with the role of prop. 

If you need to do more than show your boss you gave a presentation… If, in other words, you need to persuade an audience, make a sale, advance your career, deliver troublesome or difficult information, or rally a team… then, you need to exchange roles with your visuals. Make yourself the performer and your visuals the props. 

There is a specific technique for interacting with visuals that puts you in charge of them and keeps you at the center of the audience’s attention. At Communispond, we call it “Think-Turn-Talk,” and we teach it as a skill in our Executive Presentation Skills® program. Here’s how it works. 

As you put a new slide up on the screen, it’s news and it takes the audience’s attention off you. Get their attention back quickly and efficiently by “clearing the news.” Tell them what is on slide. If it is a set of bullet points, for example, go through them before discussing any of them in detail. Make sure you are facing the audience when you give them the points. Look at the slide (which directs the audience attention to it), read the bullet point silently, then turn to the audience (which brings their attention back to you), and say the point. Do this bullet by bullet. 

Follow this step-by-step technique whether the visual is a list of bullet points, a chart, or a picture:

  • change the visual
  • point to the visual with your left hand
  • keep your right hand free for gestures
  • read the visual (silently) yourself
  • turn to the audience
  • say what’s on the visual
  • discuss what the visual means. 

If the visual is an image with a caption, read the caption. That will be enough of a description. If it is an image with no words or a chart, just say something brief that connects it to the audience, like “imagine yourself at the controls of this machine” or “look how steep the curve becomes.”

The important thing is to train yourself to not talk to your slides. The “Think-Turn-Talk” technique enables you to talk to the audience and keep the visuals in their proper place: support for you and your message.

Tags: Presentation Tips, Public Speaking, Sales Presentation, Presentation Skills

Working with the Gatekeeper

Posted by Bill Rosenthal on Thu, Jul 09, 2015 @ 08:30 AM

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You identify a prospect that you want to contact. You call, you send information, you try e-mail, but you can't get through to the prospect to begin to build a relationship.

Why not? There's the gatekeeper-that person whose job it is to help their boss focus on what's important to them. Part of that role is making sure they don't waste time on "nuisance" calls from people who may not have any value to add.

When you connect with the gatekeeper, you may hold the key to opening the doorway to the prospect. Two ways you might try:

  • Build a relationship with the gatekeeper. Focus on something the gatekeeper says and show an interest. Make sure you can spell the gatekeeper's name correctly. If they're in a different city, ask about the weather. Make sure your interest is genuine.

  • Ask the gatekeeper for help. Introduce yourself, and say, "I need your help." Link your product or service to a genuine benefit that will help the prospect, and ask the gatekeeper for his or her advice on the best way to communicate that benefit to the prospect, and when would be the best time to reach the prospect.

When you build a relationship with the gatekeeper, you'll be the one whose calls get right through to the prospect, and you'll have a friend who may give you some valuable insights into how to pursue business with the company.

Tags: Sales Tips, Sales, communication

It's a Virtual World, After All

Posted by Bill Rosenthal on Wed, Jul 08, 2015 @ 08:30 AM


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We're often asked how face-to-face communication skills apply when someone is presenting in a virtual world. The short answer is that they do, but you need to modify your presentation delivery to fit the virtual environment. Here are some tips:

  • It's all about control-make sure everyone in your audience is looking at the visual you're looking at. Their speed depends on the speed of their connection, and it can vary widely.

  • Build in some factoids or thought-provoking questions you can use to give time for the slower speeds to see what you're seeing.

  • Tell them what you want them to be looking at and why it's important-it takes a few more words when you're not in front of the audience, but they're words well used.

  • Practice ahead of time-out loud and using the technology, just as though you're delivering the presentation for real.

  • Stand when you present, and gesture-even though no one will see you, you'll sound more engaged and interesting.

When you're prepared for delivering your message in this virtual world, you'll present valuable information for your audience and keep them engaged throughout.

Tags: Echo, Presentation Tips, Public Speaking, Presentation Skills, web meetings