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Verbal Dexterity: Talking the Talk » Persuasion

Archive for the ‘Persuasion’ Category

Hiding Behind The Slides: Who Can Put the Point In Powerpoint?

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

I like Powerpoint. It’s intuitive, manageable and impressive.

I don’t like how people use slides, and abuse them, during meetings and pitches.

Honestly, have you ever sat through an elongated business slide show and felt your eyes go droopy as your senses were dulled into a near comatose state?

Yes, we’ve all been there, done that.

OK. So now you need to be the presenter and have some slides you want to use.
What do you need to be aware of?

  • Try not to use more than 10 slides. The audience will usually not pay attention after that.
  • Obviously, get to the room early and do a quick run through.
  • Make sure that your computer’s “desktop” that gets projected onto the screen before the first slide does not depict anything embarrassing (e.g. photo of you in a compromising position or a folder marked “Porn Collection).
  • Look at and review each slide in advance-does the visual really support and enhance your message?
  • Animation and squiggles are cute–but are they distracting?
  • Avoid turning the lights all the way down during your presentation. It will allow people to close their eyes or focus on things other than you.
  • Don’t turn your back to the audience while you present-it’s rude and directs the audience to merely read the bare words on the screen.
  • Try to say something different than what’s written in the slide. Regurgitation is a big bore.
  • Have lengthier materials available after the presentation.
  • Be fully prepared to deliver your full presentation without slides (in the rare event that the equipment breaks down).
  • Recognize that giving all members of your audience copies of your slides, as a handout, in advance, is also a distractor (your listeners will be looking down, jumping ahead to your upcoming “surprise” slides and now have a nice canvass upon which to doodle).


  • Today’s Tip: Slides should be a thoughtful supplement to an already stimulating presentation. Use them sparingly and don’t make them the center of your speech. You’re too good a speaker to share applause with a screen.

    Don’t Like Carrots, Not Afraid Of Sticks (Incentives & Discipline In The Workplace)

    Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

    Sometimes workers need a little push: a push towards a goal, a push towards improvement or simply…a push off a cliff.

    HR and/or the Boss usually have only two options: 1) Incent or 2) Punish.

    Both can be effective, provided you fully understand the “carrot” / “stick” dichotomy.

    For Incentives To Work:

  • Make sure that it really is a valued motivator (e.g., “most Quarterly sales gets a plunger,” doesn’t cut it).
  • Money is always good, but recognition goes a long way (letting the incented employee park in the boss’ parking spot or making them wear a silly button all day announcing their achievement, will make them stand out in a fun way).
  • Select an incentive that others will covet (what good is a steak dinner to a vegetarian?).
  • Always tell the rest of the group who received what reward. Nothing works better (for the winner and their peers) than public acknowledgment.
  • Make sure that everyone understands, in advance, just what the incentive is and what is necessary to earn it.

  • For Discipline To Work:

  • Make sure that everyone understands expectations and knows when they have deviated from them.
  • Discipline should be prompt (within a day or two after an investigation is completed).
  • Never disciple anyone in the public. The grapevine and humiliation can be more devastating to the employee than the actual punishment.
  • Memorialize all discipline. You will never remember what you did last year and you may need it for future legal proceedings.
  • Discipline should usually be progressive (a first offense should be treated differently than a 3rd). The only exception is a violation so offensive that you must react with full measure (e.g., an employee that hits a customer or steals from you).
  • Today’s Tip: Only the enlightened Employer can properly decide how to serve the “carrots” or throw the “sticks.” Just make sure that each is serving its purpose (it’s hard to throw a carrot and no one likes to eat a stick).

    Viva La Difference!! (Differentiation In The Market Place)

    Monday, April 28th, 2008

    Most businesses and service providers spend far too much time trying to be alike, instead of embracing their differences. It’s your uniqueness that will land you the client (or the job), NOT your similarity. If every one of your competitiors offered the exact same service, in the exact same way, why would I pick you?

    Here are some differentiating factors to contemplate and highlight:

  • How is your end product or service different than your competitors? (have a set-up question/answer that only points to you)
  • Are you the best at what you do? (can you “prove” it?)
  • How does your price compare to others? (but what else do you or they upcharge or ala carte charge for?)
  • Can you think of 3 ways that your service is really better? (who does your client interfacing and how personalized do you/they get?)
  • How would I even find out about you? (that bi-annual ad in Aardvarks Adventure Magazine might not be drawing the sized audience you want)
  • What would make me want to be a return/repeat customer?
  • What is the biggest benefit, I will reap by using you?
  • Today’s Tip: Kermit the Frog was wrong. It IS fun being green! Recognize your competitive difference (size, location, volume, flair, service, uniqueness, background, language, etc.) and shout it to the marketplace. Differentiation is the spice of life and utilizing it is the key to success!

    How To Pitch (Business) Like A Pro

    Monday, April 7th, 2008

    In the business world everyone needs to pitch someone or something: it could be an idea, a product, a service or even a new direction. You walk into the room with an agenda, but what do you walk out with?

    The magical question is “how good is your pitching arm?”

    Are you throwing curves, fastballs or knuckeballs?
    Better yet, is your audience catching what you are throwing at them?

    Here’s how to become the Cy Young hurler of the corporate world.

    Secrets to a great pitch:

  • Know your audience
  • Get their attention with your opening (a bad start can be fatal)
  • Lead your audience to where you want them to go
  • Slides and supporting materials should enhance, not obliterate, your message
  • Acknowledge your competition respectfully, but differentiate what you bring to the table
  • Synchronize and practice what each member of your “pitch team” will present or say
  • Prepare for every possible question and have info ready
  • Admit to glaring weaknesses but overcome them with focus on your strengths
  • Understand the width and breadth of your target
  • Radiate confidence and sincerity
  • Own the room
  • Don’t reek of desperation
  • Have an unorthodox, off-the-beaten-track option in your back pocket…just in case
  • If you fumble, don’t dwell on or highlight the fumble…just move on
  • Follow-up in a poised manner (not 10 minutes after you have left the room).
  • Today’s Tip: If you want to throw the right business pitch: get a firm grip on the ball, measure your strike zone, size up the batter and always be prepared to throw the curve. Further, a client (or prospect) will always respect the high heat or an inside pitch.

    There Is No Jerk In “T E A M”

    Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

    I get so sick of these books and experts that continue to preach about teamwork in an intellectual vacuum.

    When is the last time that you sang Kumba-ya?
    (Do you even know the second verse?)

    A real team doesn’t just magically come together.

    It’s really more like a vineyard.

    You plant some good root-stock
    Some of the roots try to strangle each other
    Some grow in different directions
    Some dig deep to find nourishment
    Some wither and fade away
    Some grow into healthy vines
    Some go it alone and have no protection from the elements
    Some produce mold and
    Some produce wonderful fruit that eventually becomes
    …glorious wine.

    OK. Enough sour grapes.

    Here are the real secrets to getting your associates to work like a team:

  • In addition to individual performance reviews, give the “team” a grade.
  • Rotate informal “leaders” (yes, the boss will always be the boss….but alternate who runs the meeting, who arranges the logistics, etc).
  • Give your team a name and an identity (”The Rockstars” is so much more appealing than Auditor Management Fulfillment Center Personnel).
  • Take credit and criticism as a team.
  • Meet off-site and in a non-traditional setting to enhance brainstorming and evaporate traditional office roles.
  • Don’t mock anyone’s ideas or questions (yes, we can see it when you roll your eyes or smirk).
  • Make sure that everyone participates as an equal.
  • Ask people to put anonymous questions/comments in a hat and read them out loud to all (we are all thinking the same evil and practical thought, we just don’t want to be the one heard making the comment).
  • Define the roles of each member (e.g. brainstormer, client liason, Executive liason, deck management, note-taker, facilitator, etc).
  • Recognize team member’s outstanding contributions (hold an awards ceremony once a quarter).
  • Privately warn laggards that they could be bumped off the team (or, at least, traded for a Mickey Mantle and an A-Rod).
  • Today’s Tip: A Team needs to be nurtured, trimmed, fed and cared for. Don’t just bring strangers together and hope. Help create the proper “chemistry” and watch the Team flourish.

    Mail Pattern Boldness (The Secrets to Good Business E-Mailing)

    Monday, March 17th, 2008

    Why do we treat e-mail any diferently than other types of communication?
    We shouldn’t.

    Truth be told, it’s more dangerous that a letter, faster than a fax and usually permanently irretrievable.

    Here are some suggestions so that you can help you avoid “sender’s remorse” and annoying the addressee:

  • Limit the number of cc:s. Does everyone really need to know that you re-ordered the toilet tissue?
  • You don’t always have to hit “reply all.” Mundane business minutia should never be a spectator sport.
  • Wait 12 hours before you send a mean-spirited “burn the bridge forever” e-mail. You really can’t ever recover from a premature breakdown (which gives new meaning to the phrase “e-mail blast”).
  • Get to the point succinctly (e.g. what are you reporting; what’s the request; what’s the next step)
  • Summarize your included attachment in one sentence, rather than regurgitating each row and column of your 60 page Excel chart
  • Save the cute exploding animations and emoticons for your personal AOL account
  • If you are sending to an extremely large number of unrelated parties, keep them as bccs (so that you maintain the sanctity of everyone’s work e-mail address)
  • Be weary of sending offensive jokes or pictures (these things can go viral instantly and your grandmother might not appreciate receiving portraits of the curent hospitality staff at the Emperors Club)

  • Today’s Tip: Write your business e-mails in a pithy, spare manner and think about about who really needs to be a (cc: or bcc:) recipient. Before sending out an enraged diatribe, take a couple of hours to cool down and assess. You can never delete a bad impression.

    How To Triple Your Sales In 5 Minutes

    Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

    Sure. You were hoping for quick and easy secrets on how to instantly turn your morbid and lethargic sales around? I wish you well.

    Go ask a unicorn…or perhaps, the tooth fairy.

    In the land of “Sales” there are no easy fixes.

    However, don’t despair.
    Help is on the way.

    Here’s the secret.

    Start by attacking the fundamentals.

  • Know your product or service thoroughly (if you don’t, why am I, as a prospective customer, even talking to you?).
  • Understand and shout your differentiation (what makes you different and better than the dozens of other competitors in the marketplace?).
  • Identify satisfied customers that can sing your praises to future customers (you do have satisfied customers, right?).
  • While fishing for new prospects, don’t neglect your current customers (they are your meat and potatoes and you may not want to become a Vegan).
  • Remain “top of mind” but be respectful (stay in regular contact with targets and prospects, but don’t get arrested for stalking).
  • “No” is not an answer, but an opportunity (just ask any door-to-door salesperson).
  • Get in the door (and develop a client relationship) anyway that you can (e.g. low pricing; guarantees; unusual service; support; bundled services, etc). It is always harder to get in the door than to get kicked out.
  • Don’t stop at what the client says they need. Help them understand what else you can help them with (that they may not have even asked for or thought of).
  • Always be available, accessible and approachable.
  • Today’s Tip: Sales don’t improve because they need to. They improve because the pitch, the execution and the follow-up are thoughtful, honest and energized. Clients (new and old) are magnetically drawn to superior fundamentals.