As seen in the video above, telling a story works. Here is a great idea from Lisa Braithwaite to ensure that you not only capture their attention but retain it until the end.
Archive for May, 2009
Few skills are more important to the networker than public speaking. After years of studying the little things that make presenters appear confident, I have found some common denominators. Here is one nuance that will set you apart and ensure your audience 1) pays attention and 2) perceives you as confident.
Typically, at some point during a networking meeting, each member of the group has an opportunity to stand up for a brief introduction.
Keep this in mind: rushing makes you appear nervous and lacking in authority.
What do I mean by appearing rushed? The person before you just finished her introduction, and you immediately stand up and launch into yours. This gives you the appearance of diminished confidence. In addition, few will catch you name and company.
Want to APPEAR confident and have people catch your name and company?
Here’s how: The person next to you finishes her presentation. You wait until she is seated. Then, at a MODERATE pace you stand and move behind your chair. Push your chair in, pause for a second or two, and state your name and company a bit more slowly and clearly than you normally would.
Why does this work?
1) You need to create some time gap between you and the preceding speaker because the group requires a few seconds to process what has just been said.
2) The experts on persuasion agree that moving at a moderate pace – almost taking your time – exudes confidence.
3) By getting out from behind your chair, you create presence and give yourself mobility.
In many cases, the true difference between those who speak with impact and those who lose their audience is in the nuances.
The greatest challenge for people speaking at networking events is that many members of the audience don’t live the giver’s gain philosophy; so they are only marginally interested in what you have to say. As a result, many do not pay attention and, accordingly, won’t be able to pass you a referral.
We’ve spoken about power openers to force them to pay attention, but now, as you speak you need to maintain their attention, particularly in a longer presentation. Clearly, having a well-conceived speech is most important, but here is a quick trick, that again forces people to keep alert to what you are saying:
After making a simple point, randomly call on a name and ask that person for an example. For example, you are a therapist and you just touched on two common injuries, then you look to see who may be zoning and ask, “Joe, which do you think is more common?”
Just one question like that and the rest of your audience will pay closer attention to you because nobody wants to appear not to care about what you are saying. People are serious when it comes to their own appearance in a group. Use that to your advantage
While you speak at a networking event, do you expect your audience to be conjuring referral possibilities for you? Depending on the event, in most cases people are not doing so. Why? Most people are ineffective networkers because they don’t live the “givers gain” philosophy. Many of these people aren’t even listening to your message. They are thinking of what they are going to say when it’s their turn to speak, or perhaps they are pondering lunch. The best networkers WILL listen, but since they are so well connected, there is probably a list of trusted referral partners they already have in your field of expertise.
There is, however, still great benefit to public speaking at networking events as long as you keep in mind the following secret:
People respond to incentives
After you’ve caught their attention using this type of power opener, you must show them how it is in their self-interest to consider who they might know to help you.
Here are some ideas that I’ve seen work at BNI and other networking groups:
1) Refer a wedding to us and you get a romantic overnight stay at our hotel.
2) When your prospect brings up a price objection use this tactic: “If I can show you how to save that much money off your operational expenses, would you be willing to use that savings to invest in my solution?” This is Ben Hall’s (OverVIEW) strategy.
3) For every referral that turns to a sale, we will give you $100.
4) Everybody take out a piece of paper and write down the names of small restaurant owners to whom you would introduce me. As a thank you, here is a small box of Godiva for each name you provide me.
I understand that some readers will contest: “but networking should be people just trying to help oneanother. There is no need for incentives.” Okay, agreed! That would be nice, and there may be SOME groups that live that philosophy. In general, however, if you want people working for you, never underestimate the power of personal incentive.
What creative ideas do you have to incentivize others to search their mental databases for referrals to help you build your business? Please share so that our readers can get the most out of their public speaking at networking events.
Whenever you are public speaking at a networking event, your greatest challenge will be getting people to pay attention. While most will feign attention, very few actually listen intently. Some will even whisper to one anther while you talk.
We’ve covered some power openers in this blog, but I think the most powerful method is to FORCE them to pay full attention. How? Make them DO something. Here are some examples:
Home Inspector: Everybody take out a pen and piece of paper. Write down the top three reasons you think you would need a home inspection . . .
Eye doctor: Everybody stand up cover one eye and try to read the word on this card
Mortgage Broker: Everyone take a quick guess at how much a decrease of 1% can save you on a monthly mortgage of $200,000. Write down your answer.
Acupuncturist: Everyone make a fist. It’s very simple right? How many muscles were activated in making that fist? Write down your answer.
Attorney: Everybody grab a pen and write down what you think is the biggest legal liability you are likely to face in your life.
Financial Planner: Everybody fold your hands in front of you like this. Close your eyes and imagine what it would mean to your lifestyle to be completely debt free.
You get the idea – all these FORCE your audience to pay attention because it would be too conspicuous to whisper or zone while everyone else is following along. In this particular way, adults are like Kindergarten children in that having them physically do something forces them to mentally focus.
Use this trick with your networking presentations and your BNI Commercials. You will quickly recognize how easy it is to get everyone to focus on you. They can’t give you referrals if they don’t understand what you do, and they can’t understand what you do when they are not listening.
Let us know how these techniques work for you and please share suggestions you may have.
Here is a quick tip for those who do public speaking for networking:
After you’ve written your presentation do a search for the word “I” and a search for the word “you”. The latter should appear far more than the former. In reality, however, most presentations are “I”-centric. After all, it is how we grew up. Children use the words “I” and “me” so often because they must. Successful networkers reverse that model and continually speak about “you”.
Why? Other people are far more concerned with themselves than they are with you. Talk in terms of “them” and they will listen intently.
In addition, this tip for public speaking for networking lends itself nicely for developing marketing copy.
Give the word search a try, and you’ll find that your networking presentations capture and retain far more attention.
At a networking meeting, a young woman was getting ready to do her 10-minute BNI presentation on her business. She had done her homework, and was well prepared. Previously, she had confided in me that she dreaded public speaking, but knew it was a “necessary evil” if she wanted to grow her business through networking.
She had heard me doing a persuasion speech on sales, and she said she was going to apply that strategy to public speaking. This was the crux of the strategy:
Before the sales appointment, you must CARE enough to research your prospect, and prepare for questions and roadblocks. However, during your presentation, you must not feel you NEED this particular piece of business. You must know that life goes on either way. You must feel that you would like the business, but you will be fine either way. Sales guru Carl Harvey shared this philosophy with me, and it works. It frees you to simply relax, establish a relationship, and enjoy the process. It makes you feel and appear more confident, and subtly communicate that you offer something they need. You also avoid looking like the desperate salesperson.
This woman applied that philosophy to her speech. She had, in essence, over prepared, but moments before she was on, she adopted an attitude that this presentation would neither make or break her; so she might as well have fun.
Her presentation exceeded even her own expectations. She was natural, funny, and on target.
What happened? The problem is that presenters get nervous because they care TOO MUCH about how they appear before their audiences. By “too much” I mean that the pressure actually hurts their natural ability to communicate. It makes them shaky, stiff and monotone. Most presenters’ main roadblock is their own psychology. By adopting the attitude “this presentation will not really change my life in any significant way,” you mitigate the exaggerated pressure you have fabricated.
What a great application of a sales strategy to public speaking!
Survival in this economy means having your team do more with less. Fewer financial resources, assets, and employees cannot be an excuse for lower productivity. Opportunity abounds for strong and lean companies in a weak economy.
How to get more with less? Invest in the skills of your team. Sales training for your sales force, presentation skills for your managers, team-building for your staff, etc.
Investing in touch times can be daunting. But for small businesses there is a MA Express Grant Program that will pay 1/2 of your training investment up to $15,000. It’s an easy three-page application that can be completed over your lunch break.
One of the pillars of persuasion is LIKABILITY. When your audience likes you, they will be much easier to persuade. Humor certainly enhances your likability.
After years of observing humor in speeches ranging from small networking events, to large weddings and even full-auditorium presentations, here is an invaluable generality:
The larger the audience, the easier it is to get a laugh.
Also, as counterintuitive as it may sound, the more formal the audience the easier to get a laugh. (I am not referring to a roaring laughter).
Next time you’re at a formal event with a large audience pay attention to how even a feeble attempt at humor tends to get a decent reaction from the audience. You’ll also notice that if you are at a small networking event where you are all informal, if your comment isn’t really funny, nobody laughs.
I have my theories about why this is, but I would love to hear yours. In the end though, it’s important to observe this generality for yourself. Why? Most speakers tend to skip the appropriate humor comments when planning a speech for a larger more formal group. Perhaps they do this for fear of looking foolish in the grand limelight. My hope is that the observation shared in this blog will encourage you to take advantage of the fact that this type of environment is ripe to enjoy your humor.
More on public speaking and humor
It seems the majority of presenters love to use PowerPoint to help them with their presentations. As discussed in previous posts, PowerPoint is an easy crutch that enables the speaker to read directly off the slides, and it helps divert audience attention from the speaker to the screen. This can take the pressure off the presenter, as nobody is looking at him/her and there is no chance of forgetting anything (it’s all up there on the screen).
Oddly, the presenters who use this tactic don’t realize that they are giving the audience exactly what they don’t want – a boring presentation at which they are being read to. My first suggestion is to avoid PowerPoint entirely – if possible. Your audience will be refreshed and they will appreciate YOU!
That said, I’ve used Keynote (Mac’s version of PowerPoint) and it has added to the impact of my presentation. Here is why:
1) I never read anything off the screen (except for a quote).
2) I usually show a picture (stock or custom photography) that underscores a point I’ve made.
3) Embedding a SHORT and relevant video clip can really wow them.
4) A simple graph that makes a single point can clarify.
5) A relevant and humorous cartoon can add a nice touch to your presentation.
Audiences loathe seeing numbers and words on PowerPoint. They love to see pictures, graphs and quick videos.
Presenters love to see words and numbers on PowerPoint because it protects them from having to memorize and shields them from audience attention.
As a presenter, you need to make a mutually-exclusive choice. Do you do what is easiest for you or your audience?