25 things every Workforce Planner needs to know about PERSUASION at work
(from Michelle Bowden’s keynote presentation in May 2013)
- You can communicate with stakeholders from three potential ‘positions’.
- 1st position is where you are in your own shoes – completely self indulgent and all you care about is yourself. 2nd position is where you are completely and utterly in your client’s shoes. 3rd Position is the helicopter view. From up in 3rd Position you can see your needs (1st Position) and you can see their needs (2nd Position) so from 3rd Position you can make some very good decisions about what is best for you and what is best for your stakeholder. Spend more time in 2nd and 3rd position than you currently do!
- Expert persuaders analyse their customer, prepare their messages and even rehearse the delivery so they increase their chances of success.
- Expert persuaders get into their stakeholders’ shoes and build both conscious and deep unconscious rapport so they can present meaningful, needs based solutions.
- Expert persuaders know how to design, persuasive, powerful, memorable messages and as a result expert persuaders keep more stakeholders happy.
- You will better connect with your stakeholder when you take charge of yourself, your message and your environment.
- The great thing about persuasion is there is an element of freedom in your stakeholder’s decision making process. Your job as the persuader is to ‘pull’ them along on the journey, not ‘push’ them into your way of thinking.
- Rapport is all about a relationship or connection with your stakeholder and colleagues. It’s easier to build rapport with people who are like ourselves.
- You can’t ask for anything unless you are in rapport – well you can ask but they’ll probably say “no”!
- Pacing is being as ‘like’ your stakeholder as possible without mimicking them. You build rapport though pacing their energy and the speed, volume and pitch in their voice.
- Empathy is the expression through words and tone that you understand the significance of the issue to someone else. Use empathy where necessary.
- Universals and truisms are statements that reflect back to the stakeholder what they already know to be true. We call them ‘pacing statements’ because universals and truisms ‘pace’ your stakeholder’s attitudes.
- You don’t have permission to ask for anything until you have first paced them.
- The number of pacing statements that you need to use to be a master of influence is directly related to the existing level of rapport.
- You can be in (or out) of rapport using two separate criteria: 1. Personally; 2. Contextually. If rapport is non-existent using either criteria you need at least 3 pacing statements before you lead.
- The filter that determines our ability to accept information on face value or not is called the Matcher/Mismatcher filter. People with a matching preference are those who look for what is true and correct, for what matches what they know to be true. People with a mismatching preference look for what is different to what they know to be true – where their reality is different to the presenter’s reality.
- To meet the needs of all types of stakeholders avoid absolutes in your pacing statements such as “never”, “all”, “everyone”, “must”, “should” and use CABS instead: “or not”, “many”, “most”, “some”, “few”.
- “No” is just feedback that you didn’t pace enough or properly.
- It’s not about me, it’s all about the stakeholder. It’s not about what you want to say or the way you want to say it, it’s not about how you want to stand, sit or move your body. It’s all about your stakeholder and what they need to hear from you in order to understand your message and change their behaviour accordingly. Understand this and you’ll be connected to your stakeholders and they will say ‘yes’ to you more often.
- It’s best to manage objections BEFORE they are raised. We manage objections with the POO technique – Pacing Out Objections.
- First you state the objection the person is feeling, then you say and, so or just pause and say nothing, then you lead to a solution.
- ‘But’, ‘However’, ‘Alternatively’, ‘Although’ all negate what you have just said and activate the fight/flight response in the other party and incite them to fight you! Choose to say “and”, “so”, or just pause and say nothing at the link.
- As you can’t always foresee every single objection that could be raised, you can also use the POO technique for managing objections when they are raised.
- Before a persuasion scenario always use the power of positive self talk and positive thinking. Remind yourself you’ve done the hard work. Tell yourself you are the expert and you know what you are talking about.
- Once the persuasion scenario with your stakeholder is over, expert persuaders take 5 minutes to think through what went well, what they need to do more of, and what they should improve. So take the time to congratulate yourself on the things that went well in the interaction and determine where you need to improve for next time.
I know you know this, it’s not rocket science, so take the time to plan your persuasion scenarios in advance, analyse your performance at the conclusion of every situation and continuously strive to be an expert communicator who masters the craft of persuasion.
Questions you must answer to keep your audience engaged
Presenting at work? Here are some questions that your audience is asking of you when you present to them. You should be sure to address them in your presentations to ensure your audience members remain engaged throughout:
1. What does this presenter know about me? Your role as the presenter is to reflect that you understand your audience, their thoughts, feelings and attitudes.
2. What can they tell me that I don’t already know? Ensure that it’s clear you are not just telling them something they have heard before or already know in an obvious way. If you are talking about something they already know be sure to spin it a new way to give them a new perspective.
3. What’s in it for me to listen? People are motivated by the carrot and the stick. Ensure you explain why your audience should listen to you talk about this right here and right now.
4. Why is this relevant to me? Be sure to manage the objections that typically arise in a presentation such as ‘I already know this”, “you don’t understand”, “I’m too busy”, or “this is not a priority for me right now”.
5. How much does this presenter care about my needs? Are we in rapport? Zig Ziglar famously said: “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”. Show your audience you care about them and their needs. Do this through your body language, eye contact, word selection and intention.
6. How credible is the presenter? Are they a subject matter expert? Establish your credibility as a subject matter expert. Stories and examples are a good way to do this.
7. What should I do with this information? Sadly only 28% of audience members went back to their desk after the most recent workplace presentation and did anything with the information they heard and saw. 72% of people did absolutely nothing! Make sure this doesn’t happen when you present. Be clear and obvious about what the audience should do differently after hearing your message.
8. What happens if I do nothing after hearing this message? If you prefer the idea of pull persuasion (bringing your audience with you) to push persuasion (forcing or coercing them to your way of thinking) it’s critical that people feel they have been given a choice in their behaviour. Explain clearly the negative and positive consequences of not doing, or doing, what you suggest.
9. What is the key message I should remember and repeat to others? The job of a presenter is to be ‘worth of remark’ – in other words, to be ‘remarkable’. This means that in a new context – outside of your business presentation, audience members are compelled to repeat something you did or said. Christine Anu (famous Australian performer) talks about “which way” – it’s an indigenous way of saying “G’day! How are you today?” She asks her audience to say it to each other. And she repeats it numerous times throughout her completely fantastic keynote presentation. There’s not a soul in the room who wouldn’t then repeat that message fondly to their family and friends. “Which way?”
Answer these questions and enjoy presenting to a group of engaged individuals who are more likely to change their thinking or behaviour for the better as a result of your presentation. Happy Presenting!
How To Present May 2013
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How To Present March 2013
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Should I Emphasise Key Words When Presenting?
Yes! It’s a great idea to emphasise key words when you present. Emphasising key words helps your audience know what’s important and it helps them get a strong sense of your emotional objective or the ‘vibe’ you’re aiming to create. The words most people emphasise are called content words and they are the nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs.
As well as stressing key nouns and verbs you should also look at stressing the ‘focus words’.
Focus words are THE keywords in any phrase and they usually are content words. If you listen to any public speaker, politician or entertainer, you will hear them use this technique. America’s current president, Barack Obama, is a wonderful example of someone who knows how to use emphasis on key words. He does three very important things on those words: he makes the stressed syllable in that word longer, louder and higher in pitch. This is how we help our listeners turn their attention to our most important points.
The 3 Major Presentation Mistakes you MUST avoid!
The 3 Presentation Mistakes are:
- Too much information on the slides.
- Reading from slides to compensate for a lack of preparation.
- Dimming the lights to focus your audience on the slides.
Let’s cover each of these three classic mistakes in more depth…
1. Too much information on the slides
Many presenters cram their PowerPoint slide presentation with too much information, thinking that they must include all points on slides. Some presenters I have seen even use slides to record their entire script, albeit in ‘dot point’ form. In a one hour presentation, that adds up to a lot of slides. I have even seen the ‘Contents’ or ‘Agenda’ spread over two slides and the presenter take nearly 5 minutes to go through what the audience can ‘look forward to’ (yeah sure! Or not!!!) in the remaining 40 minutes. This will definitely lead to ‘death by PowerPoint’.
Remember if the audience is sitting in their chairs squinting at the screen having to make an effort to read the content of your slides, then they are not listening to you. What’s the point? ‘Busy’ slides tend to duplicate what the speaker is saying, rather than add strength to the message. If you simply use slides to record your presentation, it will be difficult for you to ‘unpack’ your message in a creative way for the audience.
2. Reading from slides
Perhaps worried about remembering what to say, and/or not devoting sufficient time to rehearsal, many presenters prepare for their presentation by ‘typing up’ a number of PowerPoint slides and then ‘speaking to them’ – (a common expression used in Australia’s corporate market). I often say to my executive clients: ‘and while you’re speaking to your slides, what is the audience going to do?’ Some people even go so far as to turn their back on the audience for the whole presentation and read straight from the slide projection on the wall. This is boring for the audience and makes it very difficult to develop sufficient credibility and interest in your message. The results of one Australian survey showed that more audience members ranked ‘presenter reading from slides’ as annoying than any other complaint about presenter behaviour. I would say, if you plan to read out your slides to your audience, then do everyone a favour, cancel the presentation and email the PowerPoint file to all concerned for everyone to read the slides on their way to work!
3. Dimming the lights
Darkening the room further removes the focus of the presentation from the speaker to the screen. This encourages the audience members to bond with the screen (as at the cinema) and, correspondingly, this breaks the bond between the speaker and the audience. Another common response to a darkened room is to ‘switch off’ and either psychologically or physically ‘sleep’ – neither good options wouldn’t you agree?
You present every day!
Every day in every way you are talking to people and trying to persuade them to see something your way, and then motivate them to take action and do it. If you are at work, perhaps you’re asking a staff member to handle a project in a certain way that’s different from how they have been doing it, or you’re asking a colleague to join you in an effort to promote a new direction, or you’re trying to motivate the team to get on board with a new sales initiative. If it’s family stuff you might talk about plans for the evening, or having one of the kids take out the trash or clean their room. You might be negotiating with your spouse about some expenditure or weekend plan.
Think of presenting as any form of communication one to one; one to few; and one to many, where your objective is to change the person’s thinking or behaviour. So plan to hone your presentation skills on a daily basis as part of your everyday communication routine – so that when the time comes for you to make a presentation, you are ready to speak up and influence people.
Good presenters get good by having lots of practice. If you start looking at every communication scenario as a presentation opportunity, you will get good too!
There are some general tips you can implement as part of your presentation skills development. For example, make sure your opening gets their attention and communicates what the benefit is for them to do as you ask. Make sure the close summarises the conversation and calls your audience to action – even in a conversation with your child. For example, instead of saying, “did you hear me?” you could say, “Jack, will you please remember to take out the bins whether I remind you or not?”
There are many opportunities every day to present your ideas. Promise yourself that you will use every occasion as an opportunity to hone your presentation skills?
My tips for influencing others in a positive and empowering way
Rapport, rapport, rapport! Before you can influence others you must build rapport with them.
My advice is to:
- Understand the person’s personality filters – the way they experience, respond to and manage their environment.
- Make a plan – what do you want to achieve?
- Use pacing and leading – pacing involves being like your audience in your dress, body language, eye contact, vocal variety, style, language, interests and attitudes. Some people call this matching or mirroring. Leading is taking the audience where you want them to go. Your audience won’t follow you or give you permission to lead them unless they feel an affiliation with you. You really can’t ask for anything until you have first built rapport.
- Show them what’s in it for them to change – we know this as the WIIFM or ‘what’s in it for me’.
- Cialdini’s influence patterns help you identify the other strategies to use – for more information I recommend you read Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini.
Proactively managing audience objections
How often have you had to deliver a presentation where you know that your audience is objecting to parts of your message before you even begin to speak?
Have you noticed that there are often a number of people sitting in your audience feeling cranky about something? These people have some kind of objection and they aren’t going to listen to you properly until you have dealt with their problem. Can you relate to that?
Whether your message is contentious or needs care in delivery or not, it’s a good idea to work out what the objections might be when you are speaking and then plan to manage them in advance. Managing objections brings the objection out in the open, helps you solve the problem as best you can and allows you to continue to control the proceedings. In other words, it assists your audience to move on and be more open minded to your message than they might have been.
What sort of objections can I expect?
People can object to all sorts of things from your content, to something personal about you, to the logistics of the event. Let me give you some specific objections people may be thinking in your presentations:
- It’s too early in the morning for this.
- I’m too busy for this.
- It’s not a priority.
- I already know this.
- No budget. No resources.
- This is not relevant to me.
How do I manage objections?
I recommend that you use a technique that I call POO! It stands for Pacing Out Objections. Here’s how you Pace out Objections…
- State the objection
- Say ‘and’, ‘so’, or simply pause and say nothing
- Then you give your solution
What’s an example of an effective POO statement?
Here is an example for you…
‘Many people feel that a call centre is not necessary for our business. So, my presentation will delve into the pros and cons of a call centre and then we can make an informed decision together.’
Use this technique and notice how much less stressful and more successful your presentations are!
How can people develop more confidence when presenting in front of an audience?
There is no single thing or magic formula that is a panacea for a lack of confidence when presenting. There are no short cuts, however, I would say that people who are lacking in confidence should consider a change of approach. Begin by writing a slogan in big letters: IT’S NOT ABOUT ME, IT’S ALL ABOUT MY AUDIENCE! And then try the following four tips:
Analyse the audience – it’s critical to spend some time analysing both the current and desired state of your audience. One way to do this is to ask yourself: ‘What is my audience thinking about me, my message and my department or company?’, ‘What is my audience feeling about me, my message and my department or company?’ and ‘What will the atmosphere or vibe of the room be like before I present?’ This way you know what to expect when you walk in. Then, plan your desired outcome by asking yourself, ‘What do I want my audience to think about me, my message and my department or company?’, ‘What do I want the audience to feel about me, my message and my department or company?’ and ‘What do I want them to do once I have finished talking?’
Structure the message – if you have a nice, tight, well-crafted message and you have designed it with a model that allows you to remember the information without relying on notes, then of course you’ll feel more confident! I teach three models for the design and structure of a presentation: 13-steps, 4Mat and Storyboarding. These models help you know what to say and when to say it so that the audience’s needs are met and so you are more likely to change their behaviour.
Connect with the people – when it’s time to deliver your presentation it’s essential to re-read your slogan: IT’S NOT ABOUT ME, IT’S ALL ABOUT MY AUDIENCE, and to look into the whites of your audience’s eyes – really see the individuals in the audience, rather than skim their heads or pretend to look at them. Know they are real live humans who you have the wonderful opportunity to influence and help. This takes your focus off your nerves and places your attention on the audience – which in turn enhances your connection or rapport with them. If you are not focused on yourself, how could you be nervous? Remember, it’s not about you, it’s all about the audience!
Get feedback – in my experience, many people focus a lot on their negative points and their nervousness, rather than on their positive attributes like their voice or their personal presentation. Setting up a system in your organisation where you can give and receive feedback from others whom you respect, and who are sensitive to your needs, is a great way of finding out what you are doing well. This can boost your confidence tenfold.