Persuasive Communication in Normal Everyday Business Conversations

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Last week, I got invited to deliver a presentation for the Transitions ® Lenses company at their Transitions ® Academy in Orlando, Florida. What was interesting about the session that they had me design was that they weren’t looking for ways to design formal presentations. Rather, they wanted to be able to help their attendees communicate in a more persuasive way when making recommendations to patients and customers. I had an absolute blast designing the session from scratch and then delivering the presentation to a standing-room-only crowd. I decided to recap the content of that presentation in this podcast. In addition, we have a new Techfind that is a great way to share documents with your meeting attendees without all of the printing costs.

TechFind! Google Slide Sharing Service for Presentations and Classes

Google Slides is actually an Apple IOS app located in the iPhone and iPad app store. It is a great way to store and share slideshows so that a group can access the slides either while you are presenting or as a leave behind after you speak. You basically open the app with by logging in with your Google ID. You can input any slideshow or document that is in Google Docs. Then, when you arrive in your meeting, you give your audience your meeting code, and they will access your slides as you speak. This works really well if you are presenting to someone in a different location. You can scroll through your slides on the app, and the person or people who are in a different location will see what you see. The app uses both Google Docs and Google Hangout to incorporate your slide deck into a presentation over a smartphone or tablet.

Persuasive Communication in Normal Everyday Business Conversations

Step 1: Think Like Your Customer

When most of us try to persuade others by offering facts and statistics or opinions and experience. This seems logical, but when you start with an opinion, human nature is to “play Devil’s advocate”. (By the way, we are likely to do this, even if we agree with the opinion.) When I first started in sales, sales managers used to teach salespeople to give a “feature” of the the thing that you are selling and then offer the potential customer a “benefit” of that feature. The big problem with this technique, though, is that many salespeople just memorize a list of features and benefits. Then they will likely just recite the list to the customer without really trying to figure out what the customer actually wants or needs.

So, step number one in being more persuasive is to find out exactly what your audience wants or needs. What problems do they face that they really want to eliminate? For instance, when we first started offering presentation training, we had to ask ourselves, “What is the biggest challenge that people have during a presentation?” The answer that we came up with was that most people feel nervous when they speak. So, if we could help people conquer this fear, we will be providing a valuable service for our clients.

The point is that no one wants to read a public speaking book. No one wants to go to a presentation class. No one, for that matter, really wants to listen to a presentation skills podcast. However, if you feel nervous or jittery when you deliver your presentations, you might do any or all of these things to fix the challenge.

So, first, think like your listener. What problem or challenge is this person facing? How can you solution help the person. If you are having trouble identifying what these challenges are, then just ASK THE LISTENER!

Step 2: Identify at Least One, Real-Life Example of Someone who Solved this Challenge

Examples teach. Examples persuade. Real-life stories or examples of others who have solved the challenge are very persuasive. Once you identify the challenge, all that you really have to do is think, “Has anyone else in the entire world ever had a challenge like this and solved it?” If the answer is yes, that person’s experience is very powerful.

For example, last week, I spoke at Transitions ® Academy. The night before I spoke, I had dinner with my little brother who lives in Orlando — where the meeting was being held. When I mentioned to him that I was speaking to Transitions ®, he said, “Oh, I wear those.” I asked him if they really worked and did he like them. He replied by letting me know that they were very helpful when he and his wife went on a cruise last month. The lenses basically get darker, like sunglasses, when you go outdoors. So, my brother mentioned that, on past trips, he had to pack contact lenses and solution, his regular prescription glasses in case the sea air or water irritated his eyes, and also a pair of prescription sunglasses since they would be outdoors a lot. He said that this time, however, he just wore the one pair of glasses as he boarded the ship. He didn’t have to carry his sunglasses on his shirt as he went from his room to the balcony or when he went out on the ship’s deck.

Since space in his suitcase was limited, this solved an additional challenge for him as well.

So, which way explains better how valuable these lenses are? The short story about my brother on the cruise or the feature benefit technique… “Transition ® lenses switch from prescription glasses to sunglasses in direct sunlight. So you won’t need to carry separate prescription glasses and prescription sunglasses.”

Hopefully, you can see that the story is more powerful.

Add an Analogy to Dramatize and Reinforce the Point

If you remember back from literature class or English class, an analogy is a comparison between two, seemingly dissimilar things. Once you give a great example to backup your recommendation, use an analogy to reinforce the point. This will make your point more memorable and also encourage your listener to be less argumentative. In the example above, a good analogy might be automatic headlights in a car. Cars today are smart enough know when the light outside is dark enough to need headlights. When the outside light lowers at dusk, your headlights come on automatically. The lenses work in a similar way.

Going back the original example of public speaking fear above, a persuasive speech might sound like…

A lot of people come to our 2-day Fearless Presentations ® classes to get rid of that nervousness that they feel when they have to speak to a powerful audience. I taught a class for a group of wheat farmers in St Louis last month. One of the big challenges that one of the participants mentioned was that, since he was an elected officer in the regional growers association, now he was being asked to do radio and phone interviews. Since, he never really knew what the interviewer was going to ask, he often got more and more nervous as each of these interviews approached. So, as a group, we brainstormed all of the possible questions that an interviewer might ask. When then went through them one at a time coming up with real-life examples like we talked about earlier for each question. We also came up with a couple of analogies for some of the more important questions. (The ones where he wanted the audience to remember his answer.) Then, we conducted a mock interview. We had him do a few of the questions, and then we had some of the other participants in the class do a few as well. After just a few minutes of practice, the whole group felt much more confident about media interview.

My point is, if you are nervous about doing something, practice the skill in a controlled environment like a class or coaching session. Reading a few presentation tips on a blog, and then going out in front of a powerful audience and trying it for the first time can be dangerous. It would be like getting a few parachuting tips off of a blog, and then going skydiving by yourself without any real practice. You may do all right, but you will likely increase the risk of failure dramatically.

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