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The Importance of Successful Presentation Skills

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We have all taken part in conferences or meetings that have terrible speakers who leave us wondering why we are there. Presentation skills are incredibly important for business professionals, but it’s not a skill that comes naturally to all people. In fact, some of the world’s most extroverted and confident people become nervous when confronted with the possibility of public speaking. Effective presentation skills require practice and dedication. Successful presenters will establish themselves as experts, promote audience engagement, and sway audience opinion. Here’s how to do it:

 

  1. Know Your Stuff

Do you want to present yourself as an expert? Then be an expert. Practice your material so often that you know it inside and out. Talking about your presentation material should be second nature. When you’re so uncertain about your material, you lose your audience. Not having to worry about remembering material gives you the opportunity to truly connect with the group to whom you’re speaking. This elevates your presentation from a simple presentation of facts to an actual conversation. Preparation is key. For more information about the importance of preparation, check out our book, Dare to Prepare.

  1. Focus on What’s Important.

Remember why you’re giving a presentation in the first place: to educate your audience members. They’re naturally interested in what you have to say; otherwise they wouldn’t be there. Don’t focus on how your voice sounds or the way you look; focus on the reason you’re there. By diverting your focus from your own performance to your audience, your presentation will become more natural and engaging.

  1. Don’t Neglect Your Body Language

One of the biggest mistakes people make is that they lose connection with their bodies. This can make your presentation seem robotic, instead of engaging and natural. The best public speakers use natural body language and appear grounded, not robotic. There are a few surprising ways you can achieve this: some public speaking experts recommend exercises like yoga, tai chi, or dance, which connect you with your mind and body and encourage awareness of your movements.

Public speaking skills are essential for a few reasons. Effective presentations can make all the difference in actually engaging an audience, as opposed to just spewing facts at them. An engaging presenter also sets the stage for an effective negotiation by making your audience connect with the information you’re presenting. Though becoming an effective public speaker may require lots of practice, it’s well worth the effort.

How to Influence High-End Clients

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Many business owners are so preoccupied with the task of acquiring more customers, they stop attracting the right customers. Even in the world of retail and services, sometimes quality is much more important than quantity. For many small and large businesses, high-end clients can significantly boost monthly revenue, profitability, and growth. All you need to do is know how to reach and influence them.

Step One: Mindset

Before you can start bringing in those premium clients, you must be mentally prepared. It’s not enough to just want to bring them in. You also have to believe in yourself and your product and stop any negative thoughts before they even begin. “I can’t imagine charging such a high price,” or “Who am I to work with these high-end people?” are the sort of phrases you should avoid at all costs. Identify and dispose of those thoughts, or you could end up limiting yourself from the beginning.

 

Step Two: Build a Customer Profile

Before you can target your ideal customer, you must know who they are. Building a customer profile will allow you to put yourself in their shoes and think about the sort of products and services they need and how to market to them.

Draft at least one profile (more are better), complete with demographics of the customer to whom you want to appeal. Age, income, sex, location, industry, emotional buying triggers, and company size are all things to consider. The more specific you are, the more thoroughly you’ll be able to understand their point of view.

 

Step Three: Create the Right Message

Now that you know who your ideal customers are and what they want, create a message that will appeal to them. It should communicate the feeling or ideal end-result your products or services offer. Remember, people make purchases based on their benefits and emotional appeal. Use the most effective angle for your customer profile

 

Choose Your Channels

Premium clients, in all likelihood, won’t be visiting the same channels as more mainstream consumers. Some will be reachable through online campaigns and traditional outlets, while others will rely primarily on referrals and networks. Think about how you’re likely to get to them, and focus your efforts there. It may take some mixing and matching to get the results you’re looking for, but, again, your customer profile will be helpful.

Planning ahead is the most important part of reaching premium clients. Put your effort into fine-tuning your understanding of your customers, and it’s sure to pay off.

3 Reasons Negotiations Fail

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1. Mismanagement of expectations

Imagine going to a pizza shop and then being told it only serves sushi; disappointment is likely. The same goes for negotiations. If expectations aren’t managed properly, disappointment or frustration may ensue from a misalignment of expectations and reality, and may result in a less-than-ideal outcome for one or all parties.

Properly managing expectations comes from preparation and flexibility. If a party has done its homework –including understanding past precedents and current alternatives—that party is much more likely to have realistic expectations for its encounters. In addition, acknowledging that things may not go as planned can lead to preparation of alternative scripts and backup plans. These scripts and plans must lay out strict acceptance and walk-away scenarios prepared before negotiations begin.

 

2. Unwillingness to empathize

It’s like watching someone go fishing and not realizing that some people may enjoy fishing. Often, people do not consider the other side’s points of view and cannot appreciate that the other side has different needs and desires, which have a profound impact on how negotiations are approached.

By considering the other side’s goals, needs, and thought processes, a negotiator will be able to anticipate arguments the other party may make and consider alternatives that the other party may find appealing even before they meet. In addition, understanding and acknowledging the other side’s point of view may improve the rapport between the parties and can have a positive impact on long-term relationships.

 

3. Lack of preparation

Have you ever gone to the grocery store without knowing what you already had at your house, only to end up getting more of things you don’t need and less of what you do? Going into any deal without a knowledge of the negotiation’s landscape and potential traps can be treacherous for a negotiator and inhibit proper management of expectations.

A negotiator should come in knowing what relevant precedents exist for the current negotiation, what alternatives may be available (or currently unavailable), and what curveballs may be thrown during the conversation. Preparation in the form of a checklist can be especially helpful as a visual representation of what the negotiator has done, is doing, and needs to do in order to fully prepare for the negotiation. This detailed preparation will make the negotiator more flexible, confident, and purposeful than coming in with only a vague idea of what to expect.

 

For more on how to improve the likelihood of success in negotiations, check out The Power of Nice: How to Negotiate So Everyone Wins, Especially You! 

The Art of Persuasion: 3 Ways Women Can Negotiate Better in the Workplace

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We may not realize it, but we spend part of every workday negotiating. Whether it’s asking for a raise, closing a sales deal, pushing for better assignments, requesting more resources, or seeking more flexibility, we use our negotiation skills on a daily basis. However, women appear to be at a disadvantage in this regard.

Research shows that men are often the better negotiators, but Audrey Nelson, Ph.D. believes this is mostly due to cultural stereotypes rather than actual gender differences. A common misconception is that men are typically more direct whereas women are more relational in their style of communication. With these beliefs, women may fail to tap into their true potential. Here are some helpful ways for women to sharpen their negotiating skills and get what they want.

  1. Start Strong

Women are more often shy and more likely to apologize, whereas men say what’s on their minds. Don’t be afraid to cut the small talk and be direct. It may take practice, but the more you do it, the more empowered you’ll feel. Plus, since a direct approach may not be expected, it will give you the upper hand right out of the gate.

  1. Communicate Value

This is a strategy that builds upon a woman’s natural inclination to think globally versus a man’s more linear method. Simplify the desired end result in your mind, but use that as a starting point to map out the ways that goal is beneficial for everyone involved.

For example: You’re a top performer in sales and want to negotiate for a higher compensation package. Communicate your desire clearly at the start of the meeting, and then highlight your contributions to the company. Don’t think of this as bragging – managers are often so busy with other things that they don’t notice the value of their team members.

  1. Know Your Facts

It’s widely known that men tend to be more fact-centered while women tune into feelings. Before you begin your negotiation, do your research! Find out the median salary for your position. Bring hard data to the table (e.g., “In 2016, our department increased revenue by $500,000 while cutting expenses by $100,000”). Know the actual market value of that car or home you’re trying to purchase. Numbers don’t lie, and the more information you have, the more legitimate your end goal will seem to others.

Above all, remember that you’re worth what you’re asking for. Self-confidence provides the foundation upon which all great negotiation is built!

How Sleep Deprivation Negatively Affects Your Work

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It’s widely known that sleep deprivation negatively impacts a person physically, mentally, and emotionally. Our ability to focus, handle stress, and think clearly are all at stake. No matter what your profession, not getting enough sleep has a negative impact on your performance. But when you are a sales professional or a training manager, it doesn’t just affect you – it affects your whole team.

Here are some of the results of sleep deprivation:

* High blood pressure

* Heart attack

* Stroke

* Obesity

* Psychiatric problems, including depression and other mood disorders

* Mental impairment

* Poor quality of life

For your health and your team’s, follow these critical steps to make sleep a priority.

Set a Bedtime Routine and Stick to It—Even on the Weekends

Prepping for bed starts early. Try to begin the process at the same time each evening. Follow these guidelines for a greater chance of success:

* Prohibit alcohol and caffeine consumption within several hours of your desired bedtime

* Exclude screen time one hour before bed

* Don’t do any exercise within three hours of when you want to sleep

* Wake up at the same time each day; don’t sleep in on weekends

Create a Restful Space

Cluttered bedrooms lead to cluttered (and restless) minds. Take some time to create a peaceful, tidy space in which to sleep. Invest in a good mattress and linens. After all, we spend about a third of our lives in bed – which justifies a more substantial investment into that part of our homes!

Consider Incorporating a Mindfulness Practice

Mindfulness and meditation practices can lead to falling asleep more quickly and having better quality sleep. By managing stress and keeping you focused throughout the day, mindfulness can also improve performance in other areas.

It’s safe to say that sleep is one of the most influential factors in our daily performance. There’s no such thing as making up for lost sleep, so prioritizing it is crucial. For those in high-pressure sales jobs or people in charge of training programs, it’s even more important to take care of this easy to neglect need.

Ensure that you’re firing on all cylinders and aren’t running the risk of blowing a gasket when things get heated in the office – or when deadlines are looming. Take care of yourself so you can take care of your team. Follow the tips above, and work your way toward more restful nights and more productive days.

Should you listen to a Devil’s Advocate?

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Why would we encourage someone to tell us we are wrong and that our ideas aren’t clear? Sometimes it could be the push we need to be better, to do more, or to make more. John Adams, the second President of the United States, relied on his wife Abigail for advice and critiques to lead our country. With that said, taking the extra hour to script your pitch for a meeting or to hand off your proposal to a co-worker might not only be the remedy to miscommunication, but the key to success. So, do you have a devil’s advocate, someone you can turn to for guidance? Who is your Abigail Adams?

If you’re the drafter…

The tried and true process of putting pen to paper allows us to work through our thoughts and uncover our real goals. We have drafted our proposals and scripted our speeches And, now that you know what you want to say, and think you have said it clearly, hand it to the one person you know won’t be biased or go easy on you. When he or she brings you back your draft with red marks and arrows, go and redraft the script. Do it again and again until your devil’s advocate has run out of recommendations. In this case, third time may not be the charm. It may be the fourth or fifth or tenth. But when all is said and done, you will have a script that is clear and concise.

If you’re the devil’s advocate….

Maybe you are sitting at your desk when a co-worker hands you their latest proposal. They ask you to read it over, make suggestions, and be brutally honest. How can you be a good devil’s advocate? Here are a few key things to consider.

Is the intended demand or request clear? What can you change to make it more apparent?

Are the facts there, or does the proposal sound too personal?

Is the proposal concise and specific? What type of language do they use?

Take-aways: Take your time with a proposal. Get your ideas down on paper and don’t be afraid to redraft until it is right.  Be someone’s Abigail Adams and let someone be yours. You will be more successful in the long run if you’re not afraid to ask for advice.

How to Influence Without Being Pushy

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Sometimes leads are already interested before you start your pitch, but how you attempt to influence them will make or break the deal. There’s a big difference between influencing and selling – your audience is less likely to take your words to heart if you come off as pushy, rehearsed, or “salesy.”

When it comes to influencing people, a few key strategies will lead you to more effective interactions with more positive results. Keep the following in mind.

Build Trust

When you have rapport with other people, it’s easier to speak with them. You need to be able to reach people on a personal level while staying professional. Carefully listen to their concerns and address them fully. Try to take your resolution a step beyond what they may expect from you to show them you are acting with their best interests in mind. Find common ground and work from there. You cannot force people to do things. Instead, you should try to persuade them to want what you want.

Focus on Positives

Of course, you want to be able to relate to the other party if you want them to see things your way, but it’s important to stick to your guns while staying positive. Instead of sympathizing with their complaints, get them to focus on the positive aspects of your discussion. Demonstrate value and emphasize how they will benefit from the decision you want them to make.

Speak Naturally

You may work on your speaking technique in private, but it’s important to be prepared without sounding rehearsed. If you want to influence people, the number one way to fail is to to be unprepared and not know what you are trying to say or sound like you’re selling something or reading from a script. Speak as you would in any other conversation (again, remember to stick to your professional boundaries) and be relaxed. Pay close attention to body language – both the other party’s and your own. Don’t come off as rigid, closed-off, or unapproachable. People will be more willing to converse and be influenced if it feels natural.

Generate Enthusiasm

One of the best methods of influencing others to do what you want is to demonstrate what an amazing opportunity they have and make them excited to see it happen. Generating energy and enthusiasm is a great way to get others on board with your vision and get them to see things from your perspective.

Be Adaptable

Your conversation style needs to be flexible – you can’t speak with everyone in the same way, and every interaction has unique factors that you need to consider. This is the biggest reason that maintaining a natural demeanor is important – when you lock yourself into a routine, it becomes much harder to deal with the unexpected. To influence the other party, you need to be on your toes and ready to handle any question or concern they have. .

Keep these tips in mind as you prepare for your next major conversation. Remember that influencing is all about getting other people to want what you want – not hammering them until they see things your way.

Skills All Teleworkers Need

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Teleworking has become more popular as businesses shift increasingly to online assignments. Teleworkers have several advantages over traditional company employees. Many jobs allow them to set their own schedules. They can spend more time with family and friends, take off when needed, and enjoy built-in relaxation opportunities like reading, watching TV, or playing with pets on break. However, teleworkers often need practice with time management and other essential skills.

Time Management

Many teleworkers struggle with managing their time. Often they either underestimate how long it will take to complete an assignment or overload themselves with assignments. The results include burnout, missed deadlines, decreased morale, loss of credibility, and in some cases, termination. Teleworkers who split their time between home and the office can benefit by saving larger projects for telework days, which keeps them from feeling overwhelmed in the office. Working in small chunks and rewarding oneself also helps. For example, say, “I’m going to work on this for 30 more minutes and then take a break.” Audible and visual reminders from calendars and electronic devices help, too.

Socialization and Networking

Teleworking can be extremely isolating, especially if an employee is in a rural area or is the only one working on a specific position or project. Experts recommend reaching out to telework buddies to compare notes, get help with projects, and stay updated on office culture. Additionally, such isolation may cause people skills to suffer. Teleworkers should take as many in-person networking opportunities as possible. They should write “elevator pitches” and practice explaining their products, services, or ideas before networking opportunities arise. Finally, teleworkers should make plenty of time to go out with family or friends to exercise, eat, see movies, or do other fun activities.

Technological Skills

Teleworkers might be hired to work over the phone or online, but that doesn’t mean they should stick to one technological resource. Actually, teleworkers are more beneficial if they know how to use several programs and applications. Since teleworking allows freedom of scheduling, use free time to refresh skills in Excel, PowerPoint, Skype, and other programs. Learn a new program and share how it might benefit the company. Read field-related blogs, or start a new one (be careful not to blog personal information about the company).

Tact

Even the most sociable, friendly teleworker can make mistakes when he or she can’t see the human on the other side of a phone or screen. Be careful to abide by email etiquette. For instance, never use all caps or excessive exclamation marks. Online, that’s the equivalent of yelling.

Similarly, teleworkers should never say anything over the phone or via the internet that would sound rude or mean in real life. Finally, teleworkers should never come out and say, “I’m on the patio” or “I’m at lunch.” It may be true, but may also dent credibility and make coworkers jealous, which will hurt office relations. Finally, teleworkers should not expect their companies to schedule breaks or pay them for break time.

Negotiating Your Salary: 10 Things You Don’t Want to Overlook

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Most people know salary negotiation will be a big part of any serious job interview, so they come somewhat prepared. Still, all the research in the world doesn’t account for nervous forgetfulness that may mean something will be overlooked in the process. Today we’re going to highlight ten key things you don’t want to overlook when negotiating your salary.

April Blog Articles_10 Things You Don’t Want to Overlook

Do Your Homework

As mentioned, most employees do some homework but not always the right kind. In fact, many of them go into negotiations with one specific figure in mind and refuse to negotiate further. This is a huge mistake that could get your job offer withdrawn. Use negotiation training first to set up for preparation. Afterward, perform research on what your potential company currently pays for your position.

Learn to Mediate

Business experts agree companies usually start negotiations at a little less than half of the salary you might receive. Be warm and friendly without over-sharing. Focus on your unique skills or how your personality traits will positively influence the position.

Bargain for Time

Sometimes employees get so caught up in the money part of negotiations, they don’t negotiate other aspects of the job, like sick leave or vacation time. This is crucial, especially if you have familial or other obligations. Use negotiation training to address this issue, among others.

Watch Your Attitude

While some interviewees come off as money-grubbing, others are too nervous during negotiations. They end up settling for a lower salary than they want and often a less fulfilling job. Negotiation training will allow you to be confident in your negotiations, which encourages time for thinking through the process. Let the company wait several days or a week for your decision.

Brainstorm First

List the pros and cons of negotiating for specific salaries. One common misconception is that a lower salary means more time spent at home. In reality, it often means more hours spent at work to earn the same amount of money as a competing employee.

Know Your Budget Basics

Before you negotiate, go over your budget. Where do you or your family spend the most money? Can you foresee any big expenses (medical, marriage, automotive, college)? With these things in mind, you can negotiate for a salary that best fits your needs.

Consider Cost of Living

The area where you live will heavily influence your salary negotiations. If you live in an urban area, you may need to negotiate for a higher salary because of housing, gasoline, and food costs.

Don’t Use the “S” Word

You’ll get farther with your interviewer if you don’t actually use the word “salary.” Let him or her bring it up. Use negotiation training to help determine when and how to begin the financial aspect of the discussion.

Be Aware of Alternatives

Many companies offer alternatives to traditional paychecks, such as stock options and bonuses. Research these and identify the ones you’re willing to take in addition to or in place of cash.

Prepare for Objections

As with any negotiation, employers negotiating a salary will often play hardball. Prepare yourself for objections your interviewer may make to the salary you want. Pretend you are the employer and address questions you might have, such as whether an employer with three to five well-honed skills should be paid more than one with 10 skills at different levels.