Ever watch the game show Let’s Make A Deal? A costume clad audience member is faced with several prize options and must make an instant decision as to which to choose. Curtain #1? Maybe curtain #3? The prize choice must be made quickly; after all, it’s only a 60 minute show!
Customers may sprint away like a Road Runner
Some salespeople ask for an instant decision from their customers. With a one-time customer, as with a retail sale, asking for a quick decision is expected. After all, in retail, the mall closes at 9, and customers must vacate the premises. But when building a long-term relationship with a customer, salespeople might want to rethink the quick sale approach.
“Take it or leave it…right now” might make a potential long-term customer sprint away faster than the Road Runner. Build a long-term customer by avoiding hard-sell, I-need-a-decision-right-now-or-nothing pressure. Instead of demanding an instant decision, ask your customer for a time you can visit or call to get a decision. With a returning customer, take the time to build the relationship. The return on your patience might just be a life-long client.
Ever call customer service only to be told, “There’s nothing I can do about your issue” or, “I don’t have the authorization to make a refund”?
Then, after asking to speak to a supervisor, an in-command voice comes on the line that says, “I can assist you with that problem” or “I can make the refund this time.”
The difference is the Voice of Authority: The voice that assures customers, constituency or a crowd that a problem or issue will be investigated or resolved. As Toastmasters, we can develop an Authoritative Voice in public speaking and interpersonal communication by remembering three important tips.
First, Think the Part: Believe that you have the power and authority either from training or life experience to say what you’re saying.
Second, Speak the Part: Speak with certainty by avoiding use of words such as perhaps or maybe.
Third, Be Short and Sweet: Especially if your adrenaline is pumping, slow down, speak in short sentences, and leave pauses for your audience to soak up what you have said.
By thinking and speaking the part while speaking at an understandable rate, we can develop a more Authoritative Voice at work, home and in our community.
Recently, a colleague was asked to be the keynote speaker at a local civic organization’s dinner dance. He convinced himself that he was going to deliver the speech to top all speeches: He would use the podium to address political and economic disparities, and call the audience to join him in reinventing the Social Compact.
- Tailor your message for a perfect fit
Ten minutes into his speech however, the audience, who had just finished eating dinner, had grown bored. The speech was just too heavy for the occasion. At one point, twenty minutes into the speech, a very well dressed audience member walked up to the podium and slipped the keynote speaker a note that read, “Please finish now. We are bored. This is too much for us.”
The keynote speaker abruptly ended his speech, the audience applauded, and the night’s festivities continued.
The takeaway: Don’t be an inappropriate public speaker. Be mindful of your audience and the occasion at which you will speak. A speech written to address the United Nations General Assembly will be out-of-place at a local awards dinner. Tailor your message to your audience and it will always be a great fit.
Speakers who inspire or persuade often aim to motivate their audiences to action. The call to action articulated by speakers could be for listeners to vote a certain way, change a negative behavior, join a group, try a new type of food, or even to have a new outlook on life.
Often, however, in their zeal to encourage their audiences, speakers sometimes forget one important communicative step. Tell the audience how.
After listening to a motivational or persuasive speaker, I am usually on board with their positive message. But sometimes, I find I have been given no tangible steps to take toward getting to the goal! Persuade me to become a member of Toastmasters? Pass out membership applications and tell when where and when the meetings are. Motivate me to be more organized? Tell me how to set up an electronic filing system, or closet cubbies for my handbags.
When speaking to persuade or motivate, giving your audience an action “how” step will keep them engaged and more receptive to your message, helping to make you a more effective public speaker.
As a Toastmaster and teacher, I often attend forums and seminars with knowledgeable, interesting presenters. As I look around the room at the other attendees, I notice that most are taking copious notes, typing or writing down each and every point and idea the presenter makes.
Use your listening skills instead of your note taking skills
Have you ever wondered what happens to these seminar notes? Some note takers organize their writings in memo pads or in folders on their laptops. Still other not so organized scribes ball up their scratchings, tossing them into corners of home offices.
Often, in our zeal to record every word, most of us miss the most important presentation points. What if the next time you attend a non-work related forum or meeting, before taking notes, put your pen down. Let’s use the listening skills developed and practiced in Toastmasters, and open our ears and hearts to the message. Instead of becoming bored trying to keep up with the notes, absorb the message by listening. Watch the speaker’s body language for non-verbal cues; enjoy the nuances of the speaker’s vocal variety. Immerse yourself in the entire message by listening.
Put your pen down. You’ll save trees, and you just might open your ears and life to new ideas.
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