Power of Persuasion: What’s gender got to do with it?


December 1st, 2010 by Frank Damelio

What’s gender got to do with it?

As a tradeshow lead generator, my job is to stop traffic at my client’s booth, show a quick magic trick that showcases their brand, and finally to introduce qualified prospects to my sales team.  It’s a number’s game.  I’m able to increase leads by 25% to 100%.  That’s quite a range. Why the difference?

Professional tradeshow lead builders calculate a stop ratio for each show. If I am asking attendees walking by our booth to stop for a moment so that I can show them something amazing (as I fan my cards), how many out of ten will actually stop and how many will ignore me?  My worst ratio ever: less than 1/10, and my best 9/10.  Again, that’s quite a range.  Why the difference?  Gender.

The lowest 1/10 stop ratio was for my client Vencom at a Yankee Dental Conference.  While there were hygienists and students attending, my job was to stop dentists.  At this show, most of the dentists were older men in conservative suits with dour faces.  The best ratio I experienced was at ASHRM where I had to stop hospital risk managers, most of whom were women with nursing backgrounds.

When Fidelity asked me to build leads for them at the AFP conference  they told me that the large majority of attendees were male.  I selected my female lead builder Clair Park, and her stop ratio was better than 9/10.

This experience is not unique to me.  My fellow trade-show lead builders concur: Gender matters. 

At least on the trade show floor, women will stop for men and men for women with far more frequency than the opposite scenario.  This has little to do with age, looks and approach and much to do with the opposite sex. 

Application:  If you work tradeshows, have a male to approach female attendees and have a female to approach male attendees.  A good stop ratio is vital because when attendees walk by your booth without hearing your message, you are burning your tradeshow dollars. 

Off the tradeshow floor: Do you think the same dynamic carries over to the networking arena?  Will a man have more success breaking into a conversation, when the conversationalists are women? How about vice-versa?  Weigh in with your thoughts here.

Amusing side note: To a lesser degree, stop ratio is also determined by industry.  For example marketing professionals are more likely to stop than are plastic surgeons.  Of the hundreds of professions I’ve targeted, dentists were the hardest visitors to stop, and they smiled least.  I remember one dentist who actually was smiling.  I stopped him and said, “look around at all the faces.  Not a smile to be seen.  Why are you smiling?” He smiled even more broadly and replied, “I’m retired”.

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Public Speaking: Offensive = Memorable


November 22nd, 2010 by Frank Damelio

Are you offensive enough?

My close friend runs professional development seminars on a wide range of skills people need to grow their businesses. She shared an enlightening account with me: The presenter she had booked was borderline offensive. Her language was edgy and she really put audience members on the spot. A day after the seminar, my friend received two emails from attendees. One lamenting that the presenter had been offensive and the other thanking my friend because he thought the presenter was great and hired her to consult.

This immediately reminded me of a book I had read on presenting magic. The author argued that if you don’t offend a small percentage of your audiences you are losing an opportunity to be memorable and create an “after-buzz” about your presentation. He warned against offending a large part of your audience. I remember thinking that was ridiculous, but experience shows that some people who know how to walk that line can gain an edge.

Is “offensive” really the right word? We are not talking about assailing religious convictions or being a racist. But what about a marketing presenter telling someone that his elevator pitch is weak and asking the rest of the class, “who would want to buy that product?” I remember while getting my MBA, in strategic marketing one of my classmates confided in me that she was offended that after offering a lengthy comment on our case study, the professor tersely replied, “so what?” It seems that what one person construes as offensive is just another person’s idea of being direct and not sugar coating.

Think about your networking circle. I bet you can name a few people who successfully perform that delicate dance on the edge. Some people call them offensive and others think they have a confident edge. These people tend to have a loyal group of followers, but have also alienated a small group. We would probably all agree that they are memorable.

Also, walking that line may make sense for a marketing consultant or prosecuting attorney, but not so much for an undertaker or family counselor.

What do you think? Is there any advantage to being “offensive”? I ‘d love to hear from people who have that reputation as well as from those who have observed that behavior in others. Click here to chime in.

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Public Speaking: The Results Are In


September 11th, 2010 by Frank Damelio

You have voted and the results are in:

 Q: Does a more animated speaker seem any less credible to you? 

 Results: While the poll is still live, at the time of this writing 97% of voters agreed that speaking with enthusiasm does not make you appear any less credible than a subdued and “serious” speaker.

If this is so, then why do so many presenters project an overly serious and subdued persona?  The reason is that any small gestures or expressions feel bigger than they are to the presenter and appears smaller than they are to the audience.

Consider a natural one-on-one friendly conversation.  Because the speaker is relaxed she will use gestures and expressions appropriately and her enthusiasm will show.  But, when she is presenting to a group those gestures and expressions need to be amplified to project  further and broader.  As she feels pressure, however, she becomes nervous and is inclined to do just the opposite.  She dulls the shine and decreases intensity.  The audience simply accepts this as another boring presentation to be endured.

The only way to overcome this challenge as a presenter is to be aware of it.  Know that your audience wants to see enthusiasm, gestures and expressions.  Our poll shows that your audience will not perceive you as goofy and less professional.  On the contrary, you will be appreciated and admired.

Next time you present, understand that if you feel like you are over gesturing and expressing, you are probably doing it just right.

Here you can read 8 great tips on gestures.

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Power of Persuasion: NO


September 5th, 2010 by Frank Damelio

The Power of NO

Nothing is more empowering than the ability to say “no” and walk away. In a recent blog I discussed the most persuasive way to make a request. In this entry, I’ll share a strategy that relies on the power of NO.

 

BUYER’S PERSPECTIVE

In July I moved into a temporary apartment while awaiting the closing of my new home. I had basic cable and Internet through Charter. The fee was $41, and I asked that they waive the one-time fee for the representative to come out and connect me. Charter obliged.

When I moved in August, I called Charter and asked for the same deal. The rep said there would be a $50 charge for hook up. I told him that Charter had waived the fee the first time, and I requested the same. He denied my request, explaining, “the free install promotion just ended”. I politely asked to speak to his supervisor to see whether an exception could be made. He said he would connect me, but he guaranteed the request would be denied.
 

THE POWER OF NO: I thanked him for “trying” and said, “Cancel the order because I need to check out Verizon’s options, and if they can’t do better, I promise I’ll call back and give you my business.” His response? “Oh, wait, I just saw a promotion that will enable me to waive the fee.”

I had already done my research and was going to go with Charter irrespective of a hook up fee. But my trick worked. I knew that Charter trains their reps to open new accounts, and once I was walking out, the rep gave me the deal I requested.

Interestingly enough, I shared this story with a friend who is moving this week. When Charter wanted to charge her the install fee, she cited my case, and they explained, “promotion just ended.” She pushed and they “found” an offer to waive half of the fee. I am confident that if she had requested that they cancel the order she would have received a full-waiver.

Charter’s behavior is reflective of human nature. They want to profit the most from you, but they lose their power when the see that you are ready to walk away.

In many cases using the walk away factor works as long as you don’t back the other guy into a corner and give yourself an opportunity to come back. Be sure to be polite and explain that you need to examine your options.

 

SELLER’S PERSPECTIVE

From a seller’s perspective in a non-commodity market such as training, I use the power of no effectively. I provide custom public speaking training and power of persuasion courses to companies that need to get better results from their people. Some prospects ask for Nordstrom quality at Wal-Mart prices. I always respect that they ask, and I explain how they are getting Nordstrom quality at JC Penny prices.

Then, if they still balk, I don’t push. I tell them the truth, “this training is not for everyone, and I will be happy to pass a referral to another trainer who can work within your budget.” Many times the walk away will convert to a sale because they respect that I know my value. Other times, I will make the referral to another company, and I am okay with that. This system helps me work with the right type of client while passing on those who don’t fit to someone else who can help him or her.

Make a comment below on your experience employing the power of NO.

Ask me about professional development training in the power of persuasion and public speaking.

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Public Speaking: Enthusiasm or tone it down?


August 3rd, 2010 by Frank Damelio

What do YOU think?

While coaching a top executive on presentation skills, I commented that the enthusiasm he exhibits in one-to-one conversations was not being conveyed in his presentations to the group.  His response: “as a company leader, I need to be taken seriously; so I tend to tone it down when speaking to my group.”

Of course, if a presenter is delivering bad news, such as layoffs, a subdued style is appropriate.  In general, however, is the assumption that when one speaks with enthusiasm he or she appears less serious or businesslike?  Does a more animated speaker seem any less credible to you?  Take our poll and leave a comment below:


After weighing in, then check out this related blog entry on the cartoon factor.

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Public Speaking: Impress your audience.


July 20th, 2010 by Frank Damelio

Discover the secret to impressing and connecting with your audience.

Attendees at my pubic speaking trainings often say that they have taken “similar” courses on presentations by the big-name companies, and that my techniques are more thorough and insightful.  This is because we all cover the same basics, but I also add a plethora of techniques that I developed as a professional sleight-of-hand performer.   I learned far more about effective presenting in the entertainment industry than I did in the corporate arena.

 I’ll share with you one major discovery I uncovered through magic.  In my circle of professional magicians, we often discuss what is the “best” trick for an audience.  At a show, I might throw your signed card through a window, bend your signed coin in your own hand, and turn singles into hundred dollar bills.   Solid magic.   My peers accomplish similar effects.  We unanimously agree on what impresses an audience the most, and it’s a trick YOU can do… remember their names.

Clearly, this “trick” has limitations.  It is unlikely to work with a full auditorium, but it is quite effective at meetings and classroom-size presentations.  If you can remember the names of your audience members and use those names through your presentation and Q&A, you are golden.  I have already written about some great strategies to remembering names here  but I want to include a new technique I’ve been using that makes it even easier.

When you arrive early, you have an opportunity to meet attendees as they trickle in.  My secret is upon introduction, I create a visual that I associate with the person’s name.  Here are some examples:

Mike: I will visualize him talking into a mic while we chat.

Sarah: Piece of cake on her shoulder (Sara Lee brand of course)

Wendy: Burger

Karen: Carrot

Bob: Apple (corny but it works for me)

You can make these up on the spot.  Some will only make sense to you.  Burn that image into your mind so when you see them a bit later, you have your memory hook that enables you to recall their name.  It works like a charm.  When you are done with your presentation and Q&A be prepared to have many people remark, “you are amazing.  How do you remember all of our names?”  You might want to send them a link to this blog.

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Public Speaking: “Ums” and “Ahs”


July 14th, 2010 by Frank Damelio

“Ums” and “Ahs” – don’t fight ‘em

If you are among the 95% of people who “um” and “ah” when they present, then you will benefit from this blog.

As a public speaking trainer, I am appalled by the throng of “experts” who suggest that when making a presentation, the speaker should concentrate on not saying “um” and “ah”.  Wrong.

I recall watching a high school student making a presentation.  He was using “ums and “ahs” in some moderation, when a peer hollered, “Greg, ease up on the “ums and ahs”.  It’s easy to predict what happened: Greg’s reliance on the filler words doubled.  Now that he was aware, he became more nervous, and actually focused on the words he was trying to avoid.

In addition, when I was a member of BNI, I counted the number of “ums” and “ahs” each person said in their 60-second commercials, and it averaged five incidences.  The next week, I “educated” them on how much filler detracts from their message.  I asked them to endeavor to omit the filler from their commercials.  What happened?  Despite their sincere efforts, the average rocketed to nine occurrences.

Why does this happen?

I learned the secret at Ananda Yoga Studio  where Tish Roy  shared a story about an instructor who told his student, “Whatever you do, do not think of a monkey while meditating.” After sometime the instructor asked the student how he was doing.  The student replied, “All I could do was think of that Monkey!” 

Case in point: The worst thing you could do when you are about to present is concern yourself with filler.  If you use fillers, no worries, just focus on your message, and you will be better off.

That said, it is important to note that “ums” and “ahs” drastically undermine your credibility and impact.  The time to fix the problem, however, is not right before you present.  It is in your everyday speaking.

1.   Stop saying “um” and “ah” in your everyday conversation with friends and family. Offer them a dollar whenever they catch you.

 2.   Pause when you think.  While it may make you feel awkward and insecure, others will perceive you as very confident and thoughtful.

 3.   Listen to the voice mails you leave to others by pressing the star or pound key. See how many times you “um” and “ah”.  Keep leaving the message until there are none.

Here is the bonus:

Stop the filler and you will speak with authority and confidence in both your presentations and in your personal conversations.  You will always appear in control even when you don’t feel it.  What a great return for such a small effort.

Here  is an excellent blog on “ums” and “ahs” from one of my favorite sources of public speaking wisdom: Six Minutes Speaking and Presentations Skills.

Leave a comment below if you have any strategies to help stop the “ums” and “ahs”.

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Power of Persuasion: The Results Are Clear


July 8th, 2010 by Frank Damelio

All referrals were not created equal.

The results are clear.  My latest study reveals the secret to getting referrals that convert to sales.  This discovery may not be something you’ve ever considered.

When someone gives you a referral.  They may be connecting you with a friend, relative or colleague.   In some cases you will be connected with one of their vendors or one of their clients, and it is the latter two types of relationships that I tracked.

Let’s say Amber gives me a referral to John Smith because she thinks he would be interested in what I provide.  The fact is that if John is her vendor he is much more likely to connect with me than if he were her client.

I suspected this at the outset, but I never realized how big the difference would be.  Below you can see the percentage of successful connections made after the referral was given.

Why the difference?

Reciprocity.  One of the pillars of persuasion is the law of reciprocity, which dictates that people feel beholden to “pay back” those who help them.  In addition, people typically give back a great deal more than they received.

Above, we see the law of reciprocity in action.  Imagine yourself in the referral process:  If someone selects you to be his vendor and that person asked you to connect with one of his contacts, would you?  It is probable that you would feel beholden to at least make an initial connection.  However, if you are someone’s client or customer, you would likely be less compelled to reach out and make the connection.

Networker’s application.

I remember learning in Business Network International (BNI) that we should be specific when asking for referrals.  Instead of asking your contacts who they know that could use your services, you might ask which of their VENDORS could use your services.  Work with that population and you’ll have a much better success of making contact and avoiding the blow-off.

Beyond getting better referrals, you now have the secret to giving them.  Consider the BNI philosophy, “Givers gain.”  That creed was built on the law of reciprocity.  If you are able to give higher quality referrals by tapping into your pool of vendors, then the recipients of the high quality referrals will reciprocate.  And that’s how referral networking is supposed to be done.

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Public Speaking: 5 Tips on Handling Hecklers


June 24th, 2010 by Frank Damelio

Are you intimidated by hostile audiences? Public speaking can be daunting enough, but when you are faced with a tough or hostile audience, it can be petrifying.  Below are some techniques to set the battlefield in your favor.  By employing these, you will gain the upper ground and successfully stave off much of the attack.

1) Stop the attack before it starts.  

If you are afraid of being knocked off track with difficult questions, avoid them up front by saying: “I have 30 minutes with you, and I will keep within that time.  During the presentation I’ll probably answer many of the questions you have, so please make a mental note of questions and save them until the end.  I’ve budgeted 10 minutes at the end; so we can address them.”

2) Don’t give them a chance to pre-empt you.

If you have handouts, wait until your presentation is over to distribute them; otherwise people will read ahead, find mistakes and formulate tougher questions.

3) Stop the monopolizer before he starts.

At the beginning of Q&A say, “we have 10 minutes for all Q&A and I want to make sure that everyone who has a question gets a chance, who would like to go first?” If nobody raises their hand, you start things off by saying, “A question I’m often asked is . . .”

4) No dead time.

Moving briskly and purposefully is a magician’s trick to keep the questioners quiet.  When you are on course and in control, it feels awkward for the heckler to chime in.  Once there is a break in your flow, he’ll jump right in.

5) Give them no fuel to attack by being likeable.

Be there early and greet attendees as they arrive.  Chat with them and make it personal.

Look and act confidently but speak humbly.

Mention in the beginning that you will be sure to keep within your allocated time: “I have thirty minutes to update you, and I’ll be sure to stay within that time period.” They can’t help but to like that.

If you feel you know less than your audience and you are going to be fielding many tough questions: “I may not have all the answers, but I’ll tap into our experts in the audience during Q&A.”

Caveat: Many times you want open discussion and probing questions.  This vlog is not about fostering that environment.  On the contrary it is for those who seek to avoid a challenging or hostile environment.  Not all techniques are universally applicable.  Use your judgment.

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Power of Persuasion: Aura of Authority


June 14th, 2010 by Frank Damelio

The honey vs. vinegar debate is eternal because in reality they both work. Consider these contradicting bits of wisdom: “You attract more bees with honey than with vinegar”; “The squeaky wheel gets the oil”. Both have roots based on the science of persuasion.  The former relies on the likability factor.  Likeable people tend to be more persuasive.  The latter relies on pain avoidance, wherein someone is likely to accommodate you if it helps him avoid a negative consequence.

Unbeknownst to many, there is another facet to the art of asking for and getting what you want: authority.  Sometimes it is less about honey and vinegar and more about how you ask.

During a cross-country flight, I noticed a young man stop the flight attendant to ask, “Um, could we get some, like, crackers or peanuts here please?”  The attendant curtly responded with a perfunctory smile, “snacks will be served in just a bit.” About five minutes later, a woman stopped the same attendant and said: “Would you please bring us our snack in advance, Jennifer, because it’s been one of those days”.  Surprisingly Jennifer responded, “Sure, would you like chips, peanuts, or cookies?” She promptly returned with the snacks.  About thirty minutes later everyone else was served.

They both said please; so what did the woman do differently that got her a better result?

1) She knew exactly what she was going to say and said it with confidence, while the young man fumbled uttering “um” and “like”.

 2) She used the flight attendant’s name.

 3) She made direct eye contact with the attendant.

 4) She used the word because, which dramatically increases odds of getting a “yes,” even if the reason is redundant.

 5) Her request was framed in a question, but her tone indicated that she expected to be accommodated.

 In short, the woman was polite, yet had an aura of authority.  The young man lacked that quality and appeared whinny and, judging by the attendant’s face, annoying.  This interesting little occurrence 35,000 feet off the ground is a case in point that it is not always about what you ask but how you ask.

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