If there’s one thing that connects everyone in the business world, no matter what you do, it’s that we all need to communicate effectively. And how we go about doing that can mean the difference between closing the sale and letting one get away.
That was the topic of my exciting webinar in the FPG Webinar Series called “The 3 Best Tactics to Communicate Your Way to a Yes,” with Dr. Laura Sicola. Laura is the founder of Vocal Impact Productions, and she coaches executives and professionals on how to communicate more efficiently and effectively every day. If you haven’t seen her TED Talk on saying your name correctly, make sure you check that out too.
In our webinar we explored a ton of really interesting topics about how to influence your sales by communicating better, how to speak more clearly and much more. I learned so much, and I know you’ll get a lot out of it too. Here are my three biggest takeaways.
Whose criticism are you listening to?
Speaking in front of a crowd isn’t easy. I know when I started on my professional speaking career, I had to learn some things on the fly just like everyone does. Part of the reason I gravitated toward speaking was because I had a fear of doing it, and by running toward the roar I was able to conquer those fears. Now I speak in front of hundreds of people every year. But on the way there I had to learn a lot.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks I had early on was figuring out which criticisms to pay attention to and which to ignore. Laura had beautiful insight into this pattern when she talked about her viral TED Talk about saying your name correctly, which has 4.6 million views. Laura noticed that there were some criticisms about her shirt, or how someone kept coughing in the back of the audience. Those, she realized, weren’t the people she needed to be paying attention to.
University of Houston researcher Brene Brown has this great line about being in the “arena,” or in this case being one of the doers actually getting up there and speaking. She says that if the one doing the criticizing isn’t also in the “arena” with her getting their butt kicked, she’s not interested in their feedback.
I train with my team every week because they’re the people doing this every week. They’ve earned the right to give me feedback on that. As Laura noted, you can’t take random criticism to heart because they’re not in the arena with you.
What makes your name memorable?
Let’s be honest; a lot of people have a brain like a sieve when it comes to names. How many times have you met someone only to forget their name shortly afterward? It happens to all of us, but Laura knows there’s a way to prevent it – say your name correctly.
Salespeople say their name more often than anything else. The beginning of the conversation is planting a seed that will, as Laura said, hopefully blossom into a fruitful relationship. So to make sure that seed doesn’t fall through the cracks, we have to be memorable with that opening line of saying our name. Otherwise our business card will just be pushed to the back of the pile and we’ll be forgotten.
Laura notes three ways we go wrong when we say our name, and three ways to fix it.
- We say our names too fast. The brain can only retain words so quickly, and when we say our names too fast we’re less likely to be remembered. Since we introduce ourselves so often, we can have a tendency to just toss out our name as quickly as possible. Say it slowly in order to say it powerfully.
- We slur our names into a blur. This one’s pretty easy to do too, especially for southern folks like me. We like to roll words into one another, but it’s key to enunciate your first and last names separately for the maximum impact. Remember, you want to make an impression.
- We have the wrong intonation. Have you ever heard someone say their name like a question? That creates uncertainty in the listener because you aren’t being decisive with your delivery. Rise on your first name and fall on your second to create a beginning and an end with your delivery and make a lasting impression.
Don’t wing it
Since most of us started talking when we were still toddling around our parents’ legs, we tend to think we have this communication thing down. That leads to overconfidence as professionals, which leads to this notion that we can spend all our time preparing the content and wing the actual presentation of it. And as Laura notes, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
If your voice is coming across as unsure during a presentation or a meeting, “there’s very little chance everyone else will be on board and believe you,” Laura said. It’s the same idea in sales. If you come across as nervous and unsure because you haven’t prepared the presentation part of it, there’s a much slimmer chance that you’ll create that certainty we have to have in our buyer.
So what do we do about it? The key is to rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.
Before seminars or speeches, I like to practice my intro with whoever is presenting me or with whoever I’m presenting. Imagine walking up to someone on stage without preparing and having some weird half-hug, half-handshake in front of everyone. That will do nothing but preframe the audience with awkwardness, and it might get me off my game too.
It’s the same when we’re presenting. Let’s say you have a PowerPoint presentation in front of a group. We tend to only rehearse mentally without actually practicing saying what we want to say out loud. If we don’t practice verbalizing it, we could end up stammering or rambling once we get into the real thing. So force yourself to say it out loud and you’ll find you’re more prepared to succeed than you’ve ever been before.