If you want to drive to deep insights and strong team alignment, consider applying techniques that compel your audience to think with you. This is most effective when you need to have strong intellectual and emotional connections. Effectively, you need to discuss something really important.
Many of the executive presentations we deliver fall into this category.
For example, several of our clients have wanted to move their sales teams from product sales to solution sales. Intellectually this may make a lot of sense. But it is difficult.
Let’s use that situation as an example to illustrate 5 techniques that compel your audience to meditate with you as you examine an important topic.
Mention audience members by name. When you mention an audience member, you change the tone. It is like you are talking to the audience members individually. Consider the difference in impact these two ways of expressing the same idea might have on audience engagement.
“We have examined the sales results and concluded our customers are interested in solving problems – not necessarily in having newer, faster equipment. Customer opportunities focused on solutions close faster and up to 30% more often.”
- or –
“Roger, I remember the two of us talking last spring. You talked about seeing how our faster equipment could really solve some tough problems for your customers – and when you talked to one of your customers in those terms, they agreed to start running a pilot right away. Today that is one of your biggest accounts. The numbers reinforce your perspective. Customer opportunities focused on solutions close faster and up to 30% more often.”
Ask questions. Whether the members of the audience want to or not, when you ask a question they mentally answer. It can be a good way to connect in a manner that gets the audience thinking and agreeing with your premise. Consider the following two options to saying the same thing.
“Customers frequently attend a meeting with things on their mind. We can use these moments to understand the solution that is really going to work for them.”
- or –
“How many of you have talked to a customer that let you chat for a moment about a new product and then tried to change the subject? Something like, ‘Listen. We could talk more about your product, but our real issue is driving out costs around some of our basic utility items so we can focus on other things.'”
Feel the difference? (Notice you mentally answered). Questions have the power to create an immediate connection between you and your audience. In the best case, you ask a question to which they have the same answer as you wanted to offer.
There are more powerful techniques. In the next blog entry we will discuss three more techniques.
- Connect around common experience
- Reference current events
- Localize to venue
Connect around common experience. When you talk about something that you share with your audience you introduce a level of empathy that connects you and your message with that audience. Consider the difference between these two approaches that express the same idea:
“Meeting with new, potential customers can be difficult. There is a need to prepare. There is a need to really listen to what they are saying. And to build credibility, you need to talk knowledgeably about the customer and their problems. Today, I am going to show you how to do each of these things.”
- or -
“I remember sitting where you are right now, thinking about how to make the best impressions on customers. For me, preparation took time. I had to train myself to really listen. And most frightening for me, I had to find ways to bring ideas into the conversation that really added value and demonstrated my knowledge of the customer’s business. Today, we are going to talk about each of these.”
Reference current events. Talking about things that happened today can make the topic you are discussing more relevant and fresh. Consider these two ideas:
“Even in volatile times, there are customers that need our solutions.”
- or –
“This morning the Dow was up/down 150 points in early trading. This is one expression of the volatile business times in which live. Here is the point. Today and every day, regardless of business volatility, there are customers that need our solutions.”
Localize to venue. When you are talking to a group as a visitor, take time to talk to them about themselves – even if this is not your main topic. When you talk about them, it makes you seem appreciative, aware and gracious. Consider these two options at expressing the same idea:
“I am so glad to be here. We have so much to discuss regarding the future and where we are going together.”
- or –
“I am so glad to be here. This team has fantastic examples of the type of achievements we need to drive everywhere in our business. When it comes to innovation, no team has done more than this group right here – defining new solutions, creating new go-to market strategies and aligning our business with the things our customers really want and need. Your contributions are truly appreciated. Today these things are the focus of our conversation – what our future looks like and ways we can get there together”So these are some ideas on how to engage with your audience. To engage with us, all you need to do is comment. We’re all ears.