Avoid this Stupid Mistake #7: Introduce Your Speech with Low Expectations

November 14, 2007

Here’s the situation:  This week I attended a presentation in which a consultant had been asked to address a group for a potential client.  The consultant had 30 minutes to say something useful and make an impression in order to be asked back for a fee.  The manager in charge introduced the consultant/speaker to the group.  Politely, the group clapped.

Here’s the stupid mistake:  The speaker responded to the applause with this statement, “It’s nice to receive applause before you start a presentation because you never know what will happen afterwards.”Good grief, what was he thinking?!  Audience members form an opinion of a speaker in the first seconds of a presentation. 

Here is the speaker announcing he might lose control of the speech.  Who would want to listen to him, let alone hire him?!

The first words out of this person’s mouth should have formed a connection or delivered some value for the client.  Once a speaker starts off on a negative foot, it’s hard to recover.

Here’s the solution:  Self-deprecating humor is fine, and sometimes it’s desirable—but NOTas you introduce your speech and NOT about your competence.  As you begin a speech, strive to do the following three things.  When you introduce your speech with each of these elements, you are off to a strong and credible start.

  1. Attract the audience’s attention with an interesting statistic, a brief and relevant story, or a provocative quote or question.     
  2.  Create a connection between you and the audience.  Touch on a value or an experience you have in common.
  3.  Establish your credibility as an expert or someone who is well-prepared to address the audience

Introduce your speech with a combination of these three elements, and you can be sure that you start off with a solid start.

For ten techniques to introduce your speech, including examples, go to http://www.incrediblemessages.com/products.htm#howtowin.


Avoid this Stupid Mistake #6: Break a Law of Persuasion

November 9, 2007

Here’s the situation:  On Saturday mornings my family often demonstrates a business lesson.  Saturday is the day my husband, Rick, and I enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee in bed.  We relax in each other’s company and catch up on what has happened throughout the week.  Often, after we’ve been up for a long time, our adolescent daughter, Meagan, will stumble sleepily into our room and plop down on the bed.

Here’s the stupid mistake:  Rick, who is a morning person, greets Meagan in an energetic and enthusiastic way.  “Why good morning, cute stuff—how are you doing today?”  Rick’s goal is to include Meagan in our time together—to make a happy family moment.  The problem is that the tone of Rick’s wide-awake, cheery mood contrasts sharply with Meagan’s just-woke-up, let’s-take-it-easy-and-slow mood. Invariably, she makes an adolescent groan and leaves the room. 

The fact that Meagan had wanted to join us and then leaves demonstrates that Rick has broken a law of persuasion.

Here’s the solution:  This law of persuasion is simple:  To create a connection and influence someone, you must first “match” their level of emotion and energy.  To engage Meagan on Saturday mornings, Rick needs to “match” his emotional messages to Meagan’s sleepy state.  He simply needs to tone down his volume and his energy. 

This law of persuasion holds true in any communication situation.  You’ll be most effective if you assess and “match” the energy level and emotional stance of your listeners.  When you introduce an energy mismatch into a situation, as Rick does with Meagan, you create a dissonance that makes the other person uncomfortable.  That persom might not vote with his or her feet the way Meagan does, but the internal reaction will be the same.  You can’t influence or persuade a person unless you can make the connection that begins with the emotional match.

This tip is especially important in sales situations because a mismatch in energy can lead the other person to perceive you as untrustworthy.  Nobody buys from an untrustworthy salesperson.