You’re no doubt familiar with the concept of an elevator speech; you’ve probably been told you should write one for this or that idea, or to snag such-and-such a client. But did you know that Ronald Reagan, the U.S. president nicknamed “The Great Communicator,” used a similar technique for connecting with his many audiences?
This factoid is just one way in which Terri L. Sjodin touts the unsung importance of the elevator speech in her new book, Small Message, Big Impact: The Elevator Speech Effect. She marries the succinct communication tool with the butterfly effect, a scientific-turned-cultural meme that insists one seemingly-insignificant action can have outsized effects.
Sjodin posits that the elevator speech has changed significantly since it was first “invented” (likening the difference to that between Pong and Wii). She also insists that the tool is suited to all kinds of professionals (not just in sales situations) and demonstrates examples of how it can be employed outside the elevator to great success.
But really, the book itself and the messages in it are not exactly revolutionary. But that’s OK; Sjodin doesn’t need to convince us that quick, well-thought-out speeches are potentially game changing and worth having in one’s rhetorical back pocket (especially in this era of shortening attention spans). She just needs to show us how to do it.
This is where she excels. You can tell right away that Sjodin is the consummate coach. Once you dive into the chapters on creating your elevator speech(es), it feels like Sjodin is your own personal communications trainer. Readers won’t find it difficult to believe she wants them to succeed.
That doesn’t mean your intentions will be realized at the end of your three minutes. Sjodin both acknowledges the long preparation hours required to perfect effective communication packages and notes that the speech really functions as a step toward your ultimate goal. That first speech, if executed properly, should get you more time with the object of your pitch, or a step up the decision-making ladder. “Just advance the ball. Don’t go for the touchdown,” Sjodin says. Continue reading »
Imagine this: You’re wrapping up a listing presentation and your would-be seller says she has a few concerns. You sit down to hear her out, but somehow at the end of the conversation, you still don’t understand what the big problem is. You try to reassure her but she says, “You’re just not listening to me.” And that is the precise moment where the listing presentation comes to a screeching halt.
Driving back to the office, you start thinking back on the conversation, trying to figure out what happened. It’s reassuring to tell yourself that she’s just one of those indecisive sellers with a communication problem. But in the end, you have to admit you really weren’t listening.
Instead, were you:
- …stepping on the ends of her sentences with assurances that you’re so great that you can handle any challenge that her situation might present, without really hearing what the challenge might be?
- …just trying to capture the factual information and data, while avoiding an emotional or subjective topic that the seller wanted to address?
- …listening only for the problems you were confident you could easily solve, while ignoring other important issues and opportunities?
- …too busy agreeing or disagreeing with the seller to listen objectively?
- …so focused on your next listing appointment to that you couldn’t see the opportunity in front of you?
These common listening styles are identified in Robert L. Finder, Jr.’s forthcoming book, The Financial Professional’s Guide to Communication: How to Strengthen Client Relationships and Build New Ones (FT Press, 2013). While such tendencies can lead to some really frustrating conversations, recognizing them can be the first step to better communication. Continue reading »
Whether you’re trying to motivate a team, negotiate a contract, or make a sale, the conversations you have will either help you succeed or undermine your goals. Communication expert and leadership coach Shawn Kent Hayashi has spent more than 20 years studying how the things people say impact their business and professional lives. In her new book, Conversations for Change: 12 Ways to Say It Right When It Matters Most, she not only identifies the 12 most important types of conversations people have, but shows readers how to reach their maximum potential by using conversations effectively.
Foundations for Every Conversation:
In order to communicate well, you must first master three fundamentals, says Hayashi.
1.) Building emotional intelligence. “When you are aware of what you are feeling, you can begin to speak about it in a way that builds rapport,” explains Hayashi. Emotional intelligence is not only for understanding yourself, but for recognizing your emotional wake — the affect your words have on people. For example, at the end of a meeting, are team members angry because they think they haven’t been heard, or do they feel excited about what they’re doing?
2.) Understanding workplace motivators. Figuring out what motivates you, and what motivates others, will help you build connections. Whether you’re trying to land a sale or gain permissions for a flextime arrangement, recognizing what drives those you’re seeking to convince will increase your chance for success. Hayashi discusses the six basic motivators, or values, that show up in the workplace, and how to identify them in yourself and your colleagues. Continue reading »
The following is an excerpt from Chapter 22 of the book “JUST LISTEN: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone” (Amacom, 2009) by Mark Goulston. The book outlines the effectiveness of various communication techniques and the science behind how the brain switches from “no” to “yes.”
BUY THIS BOOK
Take It All the Way to “No”
Benefit: Move a person rapidly through every phase of the Persuasion Cycle from resistance to “doing,” by creating agreement where none exists.
Life is a series of sales situations, and the answer is “no” if you don’t ask.
—PATRICIA FRIPP, EXECUTIVE SPEECH COACH
Walter Dunn was one of the top people at Coca-Cola for four decades. Dunn was responsible for getting Coke many major accounts, including Disney and several professional sports organizations.
Walter told me how years ago he tried to get Coke into one of the main movie theater chains. After speaking with the theater representative for a while, he got this response: “Sorry, Walter, the answer is ‘No.’ We’ve decided to go with Pepsi.”
Without missing a beat, Walter replied: “What question did I fail to ask, or what problem did I fail to address, that—if I had— would have caused you to give me a different answer?” Continue reading »
By Melissa Dittmann Tracey
Do you have a female client who’s exceptionally chatty? Or a male client who zones out sometimes? It might be their gender that’s to blame. Men and women have different communication styles that often clash in the business world, according to Michael Gurian and Barbara Annis, authors of Leadership and the Sexes (Jossey-Bass, 2008). The authors set out to move beyond gender stereotypes and point to brain imaging studies that can offer you insight into how you can better communicate, lead, and negotiate with people of the opposite sex, so that gender communication blunders never cost you a deal. BUY THE BOOK
FROM THE BOOK: 5 WAYS MEN AND WOMEN COMMUNICATE DIFFERENTLY
At times, men and women may seem like they really are communicating from two different planets. Why is that? Blood flows differently to varying parts of the brain in males and females, making each gender better at processing certain types of information. The book outlines several of these differences and offers tips to account for these differences and deter misunderstandings.
Here are five differences presented in the book.
1. Women’s brains are always “on.” Females might appreciate this: “There is more neural activity in the female brain at any given time than in the male brain, as evidenced by 15 to 20 percent more blood flow, with more brain centers ‘lit up’ in a scan of a female brain than in one of a male brain,” according to the book. The female brain tends to be more constantly active, while the male brain is prone to “zoning out” or “blanking out” during conversations. To avoid a zone out, men might unconsciously start an activity, such as tapping their pencils, gazing out the window, or swiveling in a chair. Continue reading »