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 »
By Melissa Dittmann Tracey
Being a celebrity — if even in your local market — gives you a major edge over your competitors, says PR guru Steven Van Yoder in his new edition of Get Slightly Famous (Bay Tree Publishing, 2007). Be that one person that prospects think of when they hear the word “real estate.” But you’ll need a special marketing plan aimed at generating fame. In Van Yoder’s 304-page book, he shares strategies for boosting star power, from becoming the media’s go-to person to creating buzz from speaking engagements. Along the way you’ll also read informative mini-profiles on how small businesses found fame.
FROM THE BOOK: 5 WAYS TO GET SLIGHTLY FAMOUS
Your top objectives in becoming a local celebrity: boost your visibility and establish credibility. Here are ways to accomplish those goals, according to Van Yoder’s book:
1. Be a media favorite. Local news coverage offers instant credibility, enhanced status, and expanded consumer reach. But getting reporters to listen to you is a different story. When introducing yourself, let reports know your expertise and tell them you’ll be reachable on tight deadlines. During interviews, focus on being quotable: speak succinctly and conversationally, avoid professional jargon, keep your message simple, and be enthusiastic. Keep in mind that reporters are turned off by sources who merely promote their company and make statements with no inherent news value. Instead, view your business from the media’s perspective and provide reader-centered, timely information.
By Kelly Quigley, REALTOR® Magazine
Presentations That Change Minds: Strategies to Persuade, Convince, and Get Results by Josh Gordon (McGraw-Hill Cos., 2006)
Buy this book from Amazon.com.
Have you ever witnessed a presentation that flopped? The presenter’s enthusiasm seemed faked, the audience was uninterested, and the message irrelevant? The goal of this book is to make sure that your next presentation, whether you’re seeking to win a listing from an uncertain seller or secure business financing from a skeptical lender, is the exact opposite — a total success. Real-life examples featuring well-known business and political leaders such as Steve Jobs and Ronald Reagan illustrate 14 strategies for getting audiences involved and persuading them to your way of thinking. Each chapter explains how to employ one of the strategies, such as humor, trust-building, and excitement, along with tips to avoid common presentation pitfalls. “When persuasive presentations are created with the same template as those designed to inform or educate, few audience members will change their minds,” the author writes. To be successful, you must treat persuasive encounters “as an entirely new species.”
Tips From the Book:
- Find your audience’s passion. When audiences get truly excited about what you are presenting, they are easily moved to action. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that your audience will be enthusiastic just because you are. Remember that audiences rarely get excited about products or services, but they do get excited when they find out how those products and services benefit them. Excitement starts with tapping into the needs, passions, hopes, and desires of the people sitting in front of you.
- Memorize the punch line. If you can make the audience laugh, you can connect with them and make your message memorable. But humor is tricky and must be done carefully. Even though it may seem spontaneous, humor must be well planned and rehearsed. After all, if you get distracted and blow the punch line, you’ve botched the whole joke. Memorize the punch line so you can recite it even if a fellow presenter slips and pours ice down your back.
- Get them to choose you. When your audience compares your offerings to that of your competitors, you must be seen as the top pick. Prepare for your presentation by checking your competitors’ Web sites and literature to find out what they’re saying. Then, plan a way to differentiate yourself by focusing on the details — even the tiny ones — that set you apart from the rest. Translate those differences into benefits for your audience. Don’t be afraid to show a line-by-line comparison of your services and those of your competitors.
By Christopher M. Leporini, REALTOR® Magazine
Popular lore suggests that public speaking trumps death, spiders, and other common phobias as the one thing that scares Americans the most. But if you have the gift of gab and don’t fear the spotlight, then public speaking can build your business, give you a secondary income source, and maybe even give you an exit strategy if you decide to leave full-time sales. Speak and Grow Rich (Prentis Hall Press, July 2002; $17.00), by Dottie and Lilly Walters, focuses on advice for readers wishing to pursue a professional speaking career. It also offers tips for those with more modest goals, such as feeling comfortable explaining the local real estate market to a group of business owners. The authors, both experienced public speakers, teach you everything from sources of material to marketing your name. The book doesn’t spend much time on vocal delivery, however.
If you’re just getting started in public speaking, “Chapter 4: From Fee to Shining Fee” guides you through how to solicit no-fee speaking engagements, then transition into the professional public speaking market. To begin, you can use events such as buyers’ or sellers’ seminars or speeches to local civic organizations to raise your profile and generate leads. Public speaking will also help you develop skills that make you a better salesperson— poise, confidence, and clarity.
If you feel that you have a knack for public speaking and want to pursue it further, the chapter suggests how to use these events to create opportunities for paid bookings, which can be as simple as having the person who introduces you mentioning you’ll be available after the show to talk to anybody who might want to book a speaker for a future event. (The authors suggest giving at least 50 to 100 no-fee speeches before charging for your services.) Future chapters cover the ins and outs of professional speaking, including topics such as booking speeches and working with agents.
“Chapter 5: Become the Expert and Leading Authority” shows you how to pull together resources to weave into a dazzling presentation. There is no shortcut to crafting a presentation that will captivate your audience. It requires not only familiarity with your topic, but a great deal of research as well. The authors suggest devouring every periodical, book, and online information source that you can find related to your topic. You should take advantage of information that you glean from certification classes, seminars, and trade shows.
It’s also critical to decide what aspects of a topic you think your audience will find most useful. For example, if your subject is real estate sales, you can draw inspiration from topics such as communication, personal relations, listening skills, and body language. However, the book warns against becoming a jack of all trades and master of none. It also important to distill this information into specific topics. For instance, you might want to focus not just on selling in general, but issues related to selling to Generation X customers.
No matter how great your content is, it won’t matter if no one shows up. And the more well- known you are, the more money you can make at public speaking. “Chapter 10: Becoming Famous” teaches you how raise your profile. One method is to make sure that you are consistent in reinforcing your name to attendees. Small details, such as making sure that your company name and contact information are printed on all of your worksheets and handouts help ensure that attendee don’t leave your presentation thinking, “What was her name?” The book also recommends offering an informational giveaway that they will receive if they contact you in the future. This opens the door for you to offer them more content and develop a relationship with them. Remember, this method is only as effective if participants actually perceive value in the materials you offer. It’s just like real estate; you won’t get very far making promises you can’t keep.
Chapter 10 also explains how to set yourself up as a media expert to increase your name recognition. The “Four Bes of Beneficial Media Relations” can help ensure that when local media need a real estate source that they’ll turn to you:
- Be an expert. Keep you name visible to local media outlets by sending press releases, notes, updates, e-mails and faxes two to three times a year.
- Be current. Watch stories that appear in the media, always asking yourself how you can tie in your expertise with top stories. For instance, if a refinancing boom is big news, then you might offer yourself as a source on refinancing do’s and don’ts.
- Be available. You wouldn’t leave your contact information with a customer and then not be available. Extend the same courtesy to your media contact.
- Be nice. Don’t pout if you get shut out of a story. Concentrate on making your contact want to help you at some point in the future.
You’ve already made a career out of working with people. Professional speaking offers you the chance to parlay your amazing charisma into a second income source. Speak and Grow Rich can help you pursue a life on stage, whether you want to pursue a professional speaking career or just find new real estate prospects in your market.
By Christopher M. Leporini, REALTOR® Magazine
You don’t have to be blessed with a golden voice or a silver tongue to make it in real estate, but the ability to effectively communicate with buyers and sellers separates top producers from real estate also-rans. With practice, anyone can learn to develop a confident, compelling speaking style, according to Renee Grant-Williams, author of Voice Power, Using Your Voice to Captivate, Persuade, and Command Attention (AMACOM, 2002; $17.95.) Grant-Williams, a Nashville, Tenn.-based professional voice coach, has instructed clients from Attorney General John Ashcroft to pop music superstar Christina Aguilera on how to use their voices more effectively.
The book covers how to use techniques such as modulation, timing, and enunciation to gain greater impact in your spoken presentations. It also explains how to apply this knowledge to sales situations.
“Chapter 8: Turn Up The Sales Volume” provides advice on polishing your sales pitch. It focuses on delivery, rather than content, giving you tips on how to generate trust and build excitement in your prospects. Next time your making a listing presentation or cold call, advises Grant-Williams, remember to:
- Open strong. Grant-Williams says that most people make up their minds about a song by the first three notes. Similarly, you need to set a warm, friendly tone for your presentation from the very beginning.
- Follow your prospect’s lead. Most people react positively to people who are like them. Adjust your speaking style to match your audience. For instance if they speak deliberately, slow down your own pace accordingly
- Use variety to create interest. Droning on in a monotone will put your prospects to sleep, so remember to modulate your tempo, volume, and tone.
Other chapters focus on specific tools that you can use to become a more persuasive speaker. For instance, “Chapter 4: The Amazing Power of Consonants” illustrates enunciation techniques that will capture listeners’ attention. Increasing volume is a simple way to make words stand out, but it isn’t necessarily the best choice. Lengthening the consonant sound for key words can prove more effective, creating the illusion of volume by bringing everything to a halt while your listeners waits for the remainder of the word–think Tony the Tiger. This isn’t meant to imply that you should wander around saying, “This duplex is GRRRRRRR-eat!” However, it does point out the importance of cadence and rhythm in capturing people’s attention.
“Chapter 5: Silence is Golden” stresses the value of the “power pause,” silences in between words that emphasize their importance. Likewise, pausing to evaluate questions before responding projects a more thoughtful image. Even if you are naturally the chatty type, counting silently to three before jumping into the conversation shows that you are paying attention to what others are saying.
Much of the book may cause you to reexamine things that you might not think about often. Take breathing, for example. If you didn’t know how to breathe, you wouldn’t be reading this article, right? However, the way that you breathe can influence your voice’s range and power. “Chapter 2: Just Keep Breathing” shows you how to observe your breathing style, then learn to breath for maximum speaking effect. Grant-Williams advises using “passive breathing;” relaxed, unlabored, natural breathing that uses your lower abdominal muscles to draw in breath. The book also stresses the importance of caring for your voice in “Chapter 12: Rx For Healthy Voice.” This is especially crucial for salespeople, who depend on their voices to make a living. Getting regular rest, drinking eight glasses of water a day, and limiting how often you shout are easy steps you can take to protect your voice.
Some people are born with the gift of gab; others need more practice to perfect their speaking prowess. Whatever your skill level, Voice Power can teach you to how to leave customers hanging on your every word.
If you’ve ever used AT&T long-distance, you’ve probably heard Susan Berkley’s voice saying, “Thank you for using AT&T.”
Now this voice-over artist has come out with a book–Speak to Influence: How to Unlock the Hidden Power of Your Voice (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Campbell Hall Press, 1999; $19.95)–to teach others how to improve their voice to communicate more effectively.
The book also has valuable tips for getting your message across, whether your listeners are prospective clients or an audience of colleagues. For example:
- Read the situation by checking whether prospects are listening. If prospects express partial approval–agreeing with some of your points, disagreeing with others–you’ll know they’re listening, and you can keep trying to win them over. If they ask for more details, you’re close: Uninterested prospects don’t ask questions.
- Handle objections effectively. Repeat prospects’ objections and pause while they ponder their words. It forces them to evaluate what they said: If their objection sounds unreasonable, it’s easier for them to say you’ve misinterpreted the idea, rather than having to admit to a bad idea.
- Don’t match objections with equal force. If you argue longer or louder to overpower prospects, you may cause them to give up, but you won’t change their point of view.