Tag Archives: verbal communications

8 Tips to Make Your Sales Message Memorable

By Patricia Fripp

Patricia FrippSome salespeople are silly enough to think that if they talk longer, they add more value or get their point across more effectively. Actually, any prospect or potential buyer you ask is eager for your pitch to be presented as efficiently and memorably as possible.

Here are eight tips to make your message memorable.

1. Build Rapport: In order to build rapport with your prospect, you need to connect emotionally and intellectually. Think of it this way: Logic makes you think; emotion makes you act. You connect intellectually with your logical argument through specifics and statistics, perhaps with charts and diagrams. You connect emotionally through eye contact, stories, content that creates a visual in the buyer’s mind, and with you-focused rather than I-focused language. This is incredibly important if you want to sell your ideas, a product, or a service.

2. Make Your Message Sound Valuable: How valuable does your message sound? Here’s another way to look at it. Rehearse your sales presentation, and time it. Or, if it is very important, consider transcribing it. Just for fun, consider the financial impact of your proposal or the investment of your prospect, and divide by the length of your presentation. This gives you a dollar value for your words. Logic makes you think; emotion makes you act. Click To Tweet

3. Remove Fluff and Fillers: Naturally you want to remove all the unnecessary fluff and fillers. For example, avoid clichés like “Each and every one of you in the room.” How often have you heard a salesperson say those nine unnecessary words? When your message is clear and concise, divide the number of words by the amount of time needed to deliver your presentation. You will notice how much more valuable each word has become. Make every word count!

Here is a real-life example: Barbara was a sales manager at a convention hotel in a major metropolitan city. A professional association was debating whether to bring their convention to the city. Barbara was a great salesperson one-on-one, but she was facing a group sales presentation. “I’m very nervous,” she confessed to herself, “How do I sell to so many people?”

Thinking through the eight tips she’d read, her internal conversation went something like this:

4. “How Much Time Do You Have?” “Eight minutes.”

5. “Who Is In Your Audience?” “A convention committee from the association. About ten people.”

6. “What Is Your Key Idea?” “What are you actually selling?”

“Well,” realized Barbara, “It isn’t my hotel, because if they come to this city they’ll definitely use our hotel. I guess I’m selling the city, because they are seriously considering a nearby town, too.”

Then she asked herself a question that rarely is asked: “How much is it worth to my hotel if I get their business?”

“Half a million dollars,” she knew.

So, she grabbed her calculator. “Let’s see. Half a million dollars divided by eight minutes. That’s $1,041.66 a second, even when you pause.”

Thinking back on her old opening, Barbara took a deep breath and began, “Well, ladies and gentlemen, I hope you’re enjoying our hospitality.

I know . . . ,” and she was off on a stream of platitudes.

7. Don’t Be Polite; Get to the Point: “That’s polite,” she thought when she finished, “and that’s not a bad habit, but I don’t have much time. They know who I am because I’ve been entertaining them. They know where they are. Make it about them.”

So, Barbara revamped her opening to this: “Welcome, and thank you for the opportunity to host you. In the next eight minutes, you are going to discover why the best decision you can make for your members and your association is to bring your convention to this city and this hotel.”

That is you or yours seven times and one hotel.

Then she said, “The other city is a magnificent destination, and you should definitely go there in the future. However, this year you should come to this city because . . . “Then she listed the specific reasons.

This is an emotional opening because it’s youfocused. And since you never knock your competition, it’s smart to acknowledge that the other city is fabulous. You’ve connected emotionally with your audience, and the logical specifics connect you intellectually.

You may argue that those polite opening comments are necessary because the audience is still settling down and not focused on you. This may be true, but don’t let it be an excuse. Go to the front of the room, and wait until you have their attention, maintaining a strong, cheerful gaze and willing them to be silent. If needed, state the opening phrase of your comments, and then pause until all eyes are focused on you, awaiting the rest of the sentence.

8. Logic Cells, but Close on Emotion: Continue your presentation with logical incentives, but end with emotion. Remember that last words linger, and your goal is to be memorable.

Barbara closed with this, “Imagine years from now when your attendees are sitting around a convention lobby reminiscing about the best conventions they’ve ever attended, and they talk about their experiences in this city at this hotel. And you’ll know you were part of that experience because you were on the planning committee.”

You now have eight tips that add value to your words and make your message memorable. Use Barbara’s model of how to connect emotionally in the beginning and end of a presentation and connect intellectually in between. Plus, you will be making your words sound more valuable.

Good luck! Persuasive presentations give you a competitive edge.

When your sales must be successful Patricia Fripp can help. She is a Hall of Fame keynote speaker, executive speech coach, sales presentation skills, and on-line training expert. Patricia is also a subject matter expert for Continuing Education at XTRACredits. For more information www.frippvt.com.

Know the Difference between Edutainment and Productive Training

By Evan Hackel

Evan HackelLet’s look at two professional trainers—let’s call them Joan and Jack.

Both Jack and Joan are energetic trainers who get their audiences laughing quickly. They will both do whatever it takes—using props or asking trainees to do silly things—to illustrate a concept or get their trainees excited and engaged. And when trainees leave at the end of the day, they feel energized and happy.

But there are significant differences between them. A few weeks after training is over, the performance of the people who trained with Joan has really improved. The performance of the people who trained with Jack hasn’t. They quickly went back to “business as usual.”

In other words, Jack’s training is edutainment. Joan’s isn’t, because it gets results. And that is true, even though someone who peeked into either of their training rooms wouldn’t notice much difference.Think of training as a strong combination of education, engagement, and use. Click To Tweet

How Can You Avoid Wasting Money on Frivolous Training? The first step is understanding that although good training is often entertaining, it is not entertainment. In other words, training is supposed to achieve demonstrable results, not just make people laugh or enjoy themselves. The wrong kind of training can be called edutainment. It’s entertaining, and it does well on the “smile sheet,” but doesn’t actually have long impactful results.

Here are some steps that can help assure that your trainers and your training program reach that goal:

  • Think of training as a strong combination of education, engagement, and use: Training must educate by teaching skills, transferring knowledge, cultivating attitudes and hitting other specific targets. But training that is purely educational doesn’t get results. That is why training must present information in ways that are engaging, interactive and require the learner to think and use the information learned.
  • Apply the VAK Attack model to increase learning: VAK stands for the three ways that people learn, and your live training should make use of all three. Visual learning happens when people watch materials that can include videos, PowerPoints, charts, and other visual elements. Auditory learning happens when people learn by listening to people who might be other trainees, compelling trainers, visitors and others. And Kinesthetic learning happens when people get out of their seats and move around as they take part in work simulations, games, and other meaningful exercises.
  • If you’re hiring an outside trainer, speak with other organizations where he or she has worked: When you do, ask for specifics about what the training accomplished. Did average sales orders increase by a certain percentage? Did customers report measurably higher levels of satisfaction when they were polled? Did thefts and losses decrease by a certain significant percentage when training was completed? Remember to look for hard data about results. Statements like “We loved Paul’s training!” might be nice, but they don’t tell you much about whether Paul’s training was worth the money it cost.
  • Define outcomes and make sure your trainer can reach them: Do you want your salespeople to contact 25 percent more new prospects? Do you want the people who deliver and install appliances for your store to give true “white glove” treatment to customers? Or do you want your hotel front-desk staff to delight guests with exceptional service? Your trainer should explain his or her plans to break those processes down into individual steps and address them directly through training.
  • Help your trainer know who your trainees are: A good trainer will want to know about their trainees’ ages, prior experience, educational level, current jobs, and all other factors that can be leveraged to engage them more fully in training. A concerned trainer will also want to be aware of any factors that might cause them not to engage.
  • Work with your trainer to develop meaningful metrics: If you work together to define what you will measure after training is completed, chances are good that your training will accomplish much more, because its goals are well-defined.
  • Monitor sessions and make sure that training stays on track: If you are a company training director or a member of senior management, you might not want to attend sessions, because your presence could put a damper on trainees’ ability to relax and learn. If that is the case, ask a few trainees to check in with you at lunchtime or other breakpoints to tell you whether the trainer is hitting the benchmarks you created. If not, a quick check-in with the trainer can often get things back on track and avoid wasting time and money.

It’s All About Getting Your Money’s Worth and Getting Results: If you are a training director who wants to record serious results from serious training, it’s important to work closely with professional trainers who don’t only entertain, but educate. That’s the difference between training that’s frivolous and training that offers a good ROI.

Evan Hackel is CEO of Tortal Training, a firm that specializes in developing and implementing interactive training solutions for companies in all sectors. Evan created the concept of Ingaged Leadership and is Principal and Founder of Ingage Consulting, a consulting firm headquartered in Woburn, Massachusetts. To learn more about Ingage Consulting and Evan’s book Ingaging Leadership, visit ingage.net

ROCK Star Communication

How to inspire action and commitment

By Patricia Fripp

Patricia FrippIn an era of tough competition, presentations that persuade, educate, motivate, and inspire give you a competitive edge. Good presentation skills are no longer simply nice to have; they can mean career life or death.

Imagine yourself in the front row of a ballroom at a convention. Sitting with you are sales professionals from all over the world. This was a software company’s challenging January sales meeting. That company had recently bought a competitor, and 40 percent of the sales professionals had nothing to do with the decision.

The opening speaker, the company’s president, was challenged with getting everyone to know that they are working for the right company at the right time, that the company’s strategy is sound, and that working for them will prove beneficial toward their career. He is an engineer, a brilliant leader, and rather shy. He is not a bad speaker; for this meeting, however, he knows he needs to become the corporate rock star.

Here are the rock star principles that our shy engineer used and that you can also use to become a rock star communicator in the business world.An audience will forgive you for anything except being boring. Click To Tweet

R = Rehearse: Great performers and rock stars value rehearsal. When your message is internalized, you know your structure, could wake up in the middle of the night and deliver your opening and closing, and have informally told your stories, get serious about rehearsal and delivery.

When you walk on stage, stand still at front center while you deliver your opening remarks. When you move, do not wander aimlessly; it makes you look nervous! Before an important presentation, schedule daily rehearsal. Rehearse in your own environment. Then rehearse on the stage where you will be speaking.

You need to know how many steps it takes to get to the center of the stage. Work with the production company and the audiovisual technicians. Their job is to make you look good. They can’t do their job as effectively if you do not take your sound checks and rehearsals seriously. If possible, do this the day before.

O = Opening: The first 30 to 60 seconds of your speech set the tone. They help build anticipation. “Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. What a pleasure to be here.” Sounds polite, but it is predictable, boring, and will not inspire action or commitment. It is not Rock Star quality. Rock Star performers will tell you, “We open with our second best song and close with our best.” These performers may have conversation with the audience to thank them for attending or for years of support but not at the opening!

You may be thinking, “I have 45 minutes for my speech. That’s plenty of time to warm up and connect.” Wrong. Your audience is full of stimulation junkies with short attention spans. Come out punching, and grab the audience’s attention. Make them think, “Wow! This is going to be good!”

An audience will forgive you for anything except being boring. Predictability is boring. Start with a story, dramatic statement, question, or an inspiring thought. The software president walked out and said, “Welcome to a brand new company!” He then described what had happened that made this the best move ever.

C = Core Message: Each rock tour has a theme. Know your central theme and core message. Your opening remarks must logically transition into the main message. The body will prove your central idea. After his opening line, the executive answered the audience’s unspoken questions: why was the decision made, what would it mean to them, and why was he the best leader?

The person behind the position is the person they would fight for, work long hours for, and whose corporate strategy gives them confidence. We respect the position; we emotionally connect to the person. It is not only what you say that communicates your message. It is also the subtext, what you aren’t saying outright.

Rock Star communicators also realize that in order to inspire action, you need to appeal to the audience’s rational self-interest. People make decisions for their reasons, not yours. They need to understand what is in it for them.

K = Kick-A$$ Closing: Remember, rock stars always close on their best song. Review your key ideas, and you have many options to close on a high.

Close your presentation with the same words, thought, or vision from your opening. Remember, your last words linger. Leave them with a reinforcement of a key idea or an inspirational thought from your presentation. Consider the technique that the software president used.

If you are going to be a rock star presenter who inspires action and commitment, do not compete with yourself! Your audience can’t listen and read. A boring PowerPoint with too many words or too much information can sabotage a great presentation. Did your audience come to read or to hear you?

Good luck with your journey to inspire action and commitment as a rock star communicator. Even though you were not sitting in the front row of a ballroom at a convention, you now have powerhouse suggestions for becoming a Rock Star communicator yourself.

Patricia Fripp is an executive speech coach, sales presentation skills, on-line training expert, and subject matter expert for Continuing Education at XTRACredits. Her brother, Robert Fripp, is a Rock Star and legendary guitarist with King Crimson. When your message must be memorable in-person or online Patricia Fripp can help. To become a great speaker easily, conveniently and quickly sign up for a trail at frippvt.com.

Ensure That You’re Understood When You Speak

Seven Listening Styles and How to Approach Them

By Joe Curcillo

Joe CurcilloThe new manager walks into the conference room. The several staff members turn and look at each other expressing obvious shock over is youthfulness. He begins to tell the staff that he is only instituting one new change: they are going to begin online marketing using LinkedIn.

He explains to the staff that they are to update their resumes, and they are to encourage their customers to provide positive feedback, commentary and peer endorsements. The small group begins to whisper among themselves.

“What do you mean by peer endorsements?”

”Why are we updating our resumes?” another asks.

And finally, a third simply asks, “What do you mean ’linked in?’”

Those who have developed or grown up in an environment where a specific concept is the norm must remember that communication fails without a base understanding. Effective communication requires that one never assumes that the listener listens from the same mental place from which the speaker speaks.

Get Ready! There’s a series of events that takes place internally before you even utter a word. Pay attention to your internal process. What do you think about before you speak? Are you considering who you are speaking to? Do not change who you are, but allow your thought process to engage and develop.

Get Set! As you prepare to communicate, educate yourself about the listener. Begin by sizing them up. Prioritize your audience and customize your message and delivery. Take a look at the individual or the audience and ask yourself if they fit into one of the several categories of listener. Then: stop, think, and formulate a message to strike the heart of the individual listener. If there is more than one person in the audience, then your message will have to be delivered to reach each person as you speak to them all. Take a look around the crowd; observe the various people and how they are acting.

As you consider the following list, think of people in your life. Who do you know that fits most often into one of the categories? Start communicating by thinking about how that individual is best addressed.

  1. The Active Listener. This individual will listen to you and hang on your every word. They will take in your message and listen attentively. They often show signs of response—either physically or verbally—to reassure you they are listening. The active listener will also be the first person to verbally give you feedback to assure you they understand. This is the Holy Grail audience.
  2. The Inactive Listener. This is the speaker’s worst nightmare. The listener truly allows the words to flow in one ear and out the other. Commonly, the inactive listener is far away in another place daydreaming or solving other problems. This listener is not really listening, they are not present. They may merely be waiting to speak to state their position without hearing yours.
  3. The Selective Listener. As the name implies, this listener is waiting to hear what they expect to hear, or hear what they want to hear. A selective listener hears only information needed to formulate a counter argument, or may filter your words until he feels like he has achieved base comprehension to his satisfaction.
  4. The Rushed Listener. Much like an inactive listener, a rushed listener will listen only as far as is needed to get the gist of what is being said. Then, they can transition comfortably into an inactive listener.
  5. The Scared Listener. This is really a subcategory of the selective listener, but this listener is focused on avoiding harm. Someone who is fearful of being criticized or rejected may only hear those words and phrases they feel they must defend against. Thus, you will be speaking to a selective listener in self-defense mode.
  6. The Thoughtful Listener. This is a person who would otherwise be an active listener, and they will give you signs of a concurrence and support, but their only goal is to please you. Accordingly, they become a selective listener who filters out those things they must do in order to make you happy. The message gets lost in their thoughtfulness.
  7. The “Uneducated” Listener. This is not a listener who was uneducated in an academic sense. This is a listener who is uneducated as to the arena in which you are speaking.

Go! It is time for you to deliver your message. You have considered who you are, what you have to communicate, and the type of listener or listeners who will hear you speak. It is go time. How will you keep the listener’s attention?

Use all the tools at your disposal:

  1. Vocal. By using tone and volume, we avoid monotony and rhythmically keep them listening.
  2. Remaining Stationary v. Moving About. In a longer presentation, controlled movement may aid in keeping attention. In short presentations, keeping focus as you stand firmly, may add to the importance of the message.
  3. Demonstrative items. If you hold up a report, use slides or display the new product, it becomes eye candy to make your presentation more attractive. Everyone has had an experience where someone tries to explain a situation using the salt-and-pepper shakers as people. Using props such as these allows your audience to visualize your example.
  4. Feed their heads. Use vocabulary that they can understand. Give them something their minds can digest and remember. In the boardroom, you will keep their concentration and focus by referring to income trends and future projections. On the sales floor, you will keep their attention by providing positive customer feedback and acknowledging the salespeople who lead the field. On the factory floor, you will build a better relationship by telling them that they have greater production and teamwork than anyone else in the business.
  5. Give them something to remember. Relate what you have to say to an anchor that exists in the listeners mind. It may be a comparison to a past experience or a past success. Show them the big picture. In the boardroom, stock charts, predictions, projections and sales trend analysis may do the trick. On the production floor, a simple banner with the percentage increase in production blown up as large as possible will tell the widget assemblyman exactly what they need to remember.

By weaving together all of these considerations you will create a tapestry that will cover a larger range of listeners. In the event of a one-on-one conversation, a few moments of observation will tell you who you are speaking to, and what you need to say to get them to understand.

Take time to pay attention to your communication process, and then, listen to your listener before you speak. You will hear volumes that allow you to communicate much more successfully.

Joe Curcillo, The Mindshark, is a speaker, entertainer, lawyer and communications expert. As an Adjunct Professor at Widener University School of Law, Mr. Curcillo developed a hands-on course, based on the use of storytelling as a persuasive weapon. He has been a professional entertainer helping corporations and associations improve their communication techniques since 1979. For more information on bringing Joe Curcillo in for your next event, please visit www.themindshark.com.

5 Steps to Maximizing Meeting and Event ROI

By Mark A. Vickers

Mark VickersBusinesses invest heavily in meetings and events; yet often have no concrete plan to help increase their return on investment. Research compiled by PriceWaterHouseCoopers for 2012 looked at meetings or events that:

  • were at least 4 hours long
  • had 10 or more attendees
  • were held in rented venues
  • and determined that there were:
  • 8 million meetings
  • 225 million attendees
  • $280 billion in costs

Add to this the meetings and events held at corporate facilities plus salaries for all attendees, and the total cost of meetings and events easily exceeds a half trillion dollars annually. Are you maximizing the ROI for your meetings and events?

A Google search shows thousands of articles on the importance of calculating meeting and event ROI, however, there is little guidance on how to improve event effectiveness. In order for your next meeting or event to produce a positive ROI your attendees need to leave the event motivated to do something different long-term.

Events like All-Employee Meetings or multi-day conferences require special planning. ROI will be created when you are able to build value for the attendees through a well-defined intent and objectives delivered through clear and compelling presentations.

The Event Presentation Life Cycle

The Event Presentation Life Cycle is a formal process designed to help improve speaker skill and presentation quality therefore improving event effectiveness and ROI.Maximize Meeting ROI, by Mark A. Vickers

1. Theme/Topic Selection

The first step in preparing a high value event is to determine the main objective, theme, and desired results of the event. Once the theme of the event has been identified, topic selection and sequencing can begin.

Topics should be sequenced to build on previous topics, creating a storyline that runs through the event. By utilizing a variety of presentation styles and audience interactions, audience engagement will be further supported.

Never underestimate the importance of this step, as poor topic selection and sequencing will result in a disjointed program, a loss of audience engagement and reduced ROI.

2. Speaker Assignment

Selecting who will be addressing your participants is often the most important set of decisions impacting the ROI of your event. Each speaker has various characteristics that will impact the energy, flow and effectiveness including:

  • Area of expertise
  • Area of passion
  • Energy level
  • Presentation skill level
  • Creativity and theatrical ability
  • Ability to motivate vs. train

Caution: Don’t make the mistake of assigning topics solely based on job title or role within the organization versus who is going to be most effective.

As part of your speaker selection process, you may consider hiring external speakers to add content expertise to your event. While this expertise is valuable, it can create additional risk. Through awareness and mitigation of three primary risks associated with hiring external speakers you should protect your ROI.

Keynote Speaker Risk #1 – Inconsistent Messaging

In step 1 above, you defined intent and desired result. A quality external speaker should always begin their discussions with you by learning your intent and objectives. Depending on the situation the external speaker will also offer to mold their message to your intent.

In the early stages of working with a potential keynote speaker make sure:

  • They understand your intent and audience
  • You receive a detailed outline of their content

Keynote Speaker Risk #2 – Lack of Control

You might assume that since you are paying for a speaker that you have control over the delivery of the message. However, when you put them on stage, they are in control.

To avoid issues during your event, make sure you discuss particulars related to:

  • Information or stories that are not desirable or appropriate
  • Reference to external organizations or resources
  • Sale or promotion of products or services

High quality professional speakers should pose minimal risks to your event but your job is to make sure nothing unexpected is said from the stage.

Keynote Speaker Risk #3 – Upstaging Your Staff

Corporate executives are typically involved in presenting the majority of the information that is critical for your audience to hear. These executives are qualified in their field, but they do not possess the experience and skills of your external speaker.

Your external speaker will deliver their specialized content as a polished, powerful and dynamic presentation. The quality of the presentation inadvertently upstages your executives, highlighting the skill level difference and diminishing the value of the message delivered by your own team.

You can mitigate the “Upstaging Risk” by creatively scheduling your external speakers to minimize comparisons and by following the rest of the Event Presentation Life Cycle Process to improve the quality of all other presentations.

3. Speaker Coaching

Regardless of the skill level of the speakers you are putting in front of your audience, formalized speech and presentation coaching will help ensure clear, consistent messaging. By supporting your speakers with a professional speaking coach who is intimately aware of your intent and objectives, you will create an environment that helps prepare each speaker for maximum effectiveness and impact.

Your event speaking coach will work with each speaker focusing on:

  • Intent of the talk
  • The key point of the talk
  • Stories to be used
  • Wording and transitions
  • Creating an engaging opening
  • Crafting a powerful close and transition to the next speaker
  • Determining staging and presentation elements

By combining structured coaching with a defined and monitored practice and rehearsal plan, you equip your speakers for maximum impact.

4. Objective Assessment

When it comes to presentation effectiveness, a common mistake made by executives is to rely on anecdotal feedback from staff and coworkers instead of objective feedback. The use of a structured and objective assessment tool will provide a baseline for ongoing speaker development and a baseline for continual improvement.

A formalized, objective assessment should be based around three main categories including:

  • Content
  • Vocal Delivery
  • Presentation style and engagement

The objective results, combined with subjective feedback like audience engagement and survey results provide a framework for an action plan for future improvement.

5. Coaching Review

The final step in the Event Presentation Life Cycle is the Coaching Review. Your corporate speakers should receive feedback from an expert trained in reviewing presentations incorporating the objective assessment, subjective feedback, and a review of audio or video of the event when available.

The review should focus on the following items:

  • Content delivery
  • Message effectiveness
  • Presentation style

The coaching review and the action plan are then used as the basis for coaching the presentations for the next event.

Through this defined process, not only will you improve your current event, but you will lay the foundation and establish the process for continual Event ROI improvement.

Mark A. Vickers is a Certified Professional Coach, and Certified World Class Speaking Coach. Mark is a communications consultant focused on helping you and your organization improve performance through improved communication and speaking skills. He is known as a creative author and speaker, and for creating the Communications Challenge, an objective way to measure communication effectiveness.