Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Modern-Day Networking: “Dripping” Can Solidify Relationships

Are you dripping?

Think of “dripping” as a way to keep in touch with clients and colleagues – a little bit at a time, repeatedly.

In the course of a day, many of us might meet one or several people who we want to build a relationship with – one that is mutually beneficial, win/win, and helping others.

Yet, just a meeting, whether chance or purposefully planned, isn’t enough.

That’s where the dripping starts.

Immediately after meeting someone that you want to foster a relationship with, send something to the person – an e-mail, a text, a Tweet, a note, an article.

Then, touch base again with a call or even offer to do lunch. Look for ways to help the other person. Find commonality.

As the relationship starts to build, you continue to “drip.” Your contact might be once a month, or once every other month.

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder” is a fallacy! When it comes to business networking and building relationships, it’s more like, “Out of sight, out of mind.”

Dripping keeps you in the mind’s eye of the other person, since you touch base on a frequent basis.

Building relationships is more important, and easier to do, than ever before.

So, just keep on dripping!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Death By PowerPoint: Don’t Become Another Speaking Statistic

We’ve all heard the expression “death by PowerPoint.”

People acknowledge it, laugh about it, and hate it when in an audience, but, yet …. Many continue to be guilty of doing it themselves!

How can presenters avoid this?

Here are my 10 tips for avoiding Death by PowerPoint:

1) Write your presentation first, then look to see where you can add PowerPoint to reinforce the message. Keep in mind, a slide deck isn’t a presentation.

2) Add graphics, rather than bullet points, wherever possible. When words are necessary, it’s OK to use them, but avoid paragraphs.

3) Limit the content on the slides. If your audience needs the slides in advance, or as a take-home learning tool, then give them a file with more detail -- but for the actual presentation, pare down the content.

4) Avoid too many “bells and whistles” (like different font colors/sizes, charts, etc.). The focus needs to on the information, not the slide.

5) Get comfortable with the “B” key. While in PowerPoint mode, hit the “B” key on your computer. The screen will turn black or go blank. I like to think that the B stands for BRODY. Occasionally, go blank, so you change up what you’re doing – move around more and facilitate discussion.

6) Create a list of all slides – have one sheet of paper with the slide number and title of each slide. This allows you to cut slides if time is an issue, or to jump back and forth on the slide deck. Do this by hitting the “slide number” then hit “enter.” So, assume you are on slide 10, and you want to go back to slide 3. Hit “3’ and then “enter.”

7) Practice using the slides so that you are comfortable with timing and flow.

8) Arrive early and position yourself so that the screen is to your (speaker’s) left. People read from left to right. Make it easy for the audience.

9) Open and close with a blank screen to create and keep rapport with the audience.

10) Keep in mind – less is more. Trust me ... rarely, if ever, have audience members said, “Oh good, another slide.”

Always remember, be prepared to speak without any slides all in case of a technical glitch.

The best speakers can deliver their messages with power, impact and persuasion, without any slides at all.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Selling Stool: 3 Key Elements to Sales Presentations

Product knowledge and selling skills are only two legs of the stool when it comes to successful sales presentations.

The third key is the ability to communicate your ideas effectively, and at the same time read the messages that your audience (buyer) is sending in response.

In other words, you need to master the art of walking and chewing gum at the same time!

The most effective salespeople pay attention to the signals that are being sent – theirs and others.

These winning sales professionals don’t go onto autopilot with their prepared pitch.

So, what are some things to watch for?

Positive cues from the person or people to whom you are presenting:

Direct eye contact
Open body language
Forward lean
Upward turn on the corners of their mouth

Here are some negative signals to watch carefully for:

Tension in the eyebrows
Closed off posture
Limited eye contact
Pursed lips

You can’t assume that people are hostile to your ideas just because they have their arms crossed. After all, they may just be cold.

However, if their arms are crossed, look for other signals as well that might indicate hostility, disagreement or closed thinking.

Typically, in a selling situation, the “buyer” says so much without even saying a word.

The question is, are you so busy talking, that you aren’t listening to what is -- and isn’t -- being said?

It may seem trite, but there is a reason we have two ears!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Bottom-Line Speaking for Presentation Skills Success

Give people conclusions they can walk out the door with, not a lot of details.

This is what Jack Welch used to say, when he headed up General Electric.

This is also what I say when I coach people about presentation skills.

You can’t be too specific when sharing information.

Most decision makers don’t have a lot of time to wade through data. They are paying others to get the data, and just want to be told your recommendation or their call to action.

Often, the tendency when speaking is to get bogged down in the technicalities, which most people don’t understand (or even care about!).

You will be perceived as a leader if you keep a presentation at the 100,000-foot level – then be able to answer questions that go beneath that.

Answer these three questions:

So what?
Now what?

Truly effective speakers always keep their focus on the last two.