By Carolyn Crawford
Let’s recap what we’ve covered and what we’re trying to achieve here. We’ve looked at the mental approach for selling, negotiating, writing, presenting or simply chatting, that’s most conducive to a positive outcome – an approach of focusing on
them not us. We’ve explored the Physical Preparation Process: using your network, planning your questions and planning your advocacy to help you feel clear, calm, comfortable and in control. We’re now looking at what happens live on the day.
The thoughts and delivery style, that will set us up for greatest confidence and success.
Again we’re going to work our way from the mental through to the physical, starting with finding your centre, trusting your knowledge and doing it in service, before moving on to chatting it through and managing concerns. So here we go!
FIND YOUR CENTRE
Being quiet, finding your quiet space within, takes practice. The more you do it, the easier it is to find. It’s that place or space you go to, in your mind or body, that’s absolutely still. That’s untouched by the noise, the stress, the deadlines, the incessant
mind-chatter and even the physical aches and pains. It’s the part that’s connected, that’s free, that’s true. It’s the watcher, the observer, the part of your consciousness, or spirit, that’s aware of all that goes on in your body, your mind and your world…
If you can touch base with that place for a few minutes, even a few seconds, you massively increase your chances of speaking, conversing or writing with truth, clarity, integrity and calm. It is the birthplace of composure and control. From there you can
speak with quiet conviction or focused passion. You can speak with energy and animation or deliberate firmness. It brings with it a commanding presence even when we speak softly. It allows us to fill the space even in an auditorium with 1000 people. It allows
us to have a difficult conversation with courage and compassion. It allows us to connect with even an unseen reader.
Visit this place regularly. Set an alarm every hour on the hour for a day or two to practice centering, and see what kind of a difference it makes to your daily interactions.
TRUST YOUR KNOWLEDGE AND PREPARATION
You know your stuff. That’s what you do all day every day. You’ve done your audience or stakeholder research, planned your questions if it’s a 1-on-1 conversation, as well as your message, your advocacy and answers to the key concerns that might come up, whether
it’s 1-on-1 or a group. You’ve even rehearsed it through once or twice.
Now’s the moment for you to proverbially tear up the speech. Let it go and let it flow. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t stress about using exactly the right words and saying all the right things in the right order. Remind yourself of your purpose (or
message), be intent on conveying the most critical points that help to build the case for that message, and then relax. Trust that the right words will come out in the right order in the right way, whether that’s the way you originally planned or not. It’s
not about perfection. It’s not about getting it ‘right’. It’s about getting the point across in such a way that the relationship is kept central, that rapport is established and maintained, and such that the listener is more likely to be open, willing to receive,
able to understand the logic and ultimately willing to commit, or at least be influenced.
DO IT IN SERVICE
We covered this in some detail in our blog about The Mental Approach so this is a simple reminder. The meeting or presentation isn’t about us. It’s about them. The more we worry about “I’ve got to be this, do that, say this, cover that” the more stress we create
for ourselves. The more we focus on being a facilitator or a simple conduit of information, supporting the other person or audience with meaningful material to help them make a well-informed decision, the lighter our load and the more fluent we free ourselves
up to be.
If you’ve been involved in our ‘Simply Presenting’ workshop you know that this is the primary focus of the delivery part of the workshop. This may be controversial among other presentation skills trainers but I don’t believe in ‘acting’ when we communicate,
whether 1-on-1 or in a big group. This isn’t about putting on a mask, setting up a shield and going into battle, it’s about being authentic, transparent, confident, clear, strong and also kind and empathetic. We don’t follow leaders who are all bluster and
noise, who ‘turn it on’ on the stage but are unapproachable in real life. We follow people who are real, open, human and consistent. It will take the pressure off you, but also create greater rapport and trust with the other person or people, if you simply
take a fireside chat approach. Whether writing, speaking 1-on-1, negotiating or speaking to a larger group, talk with them, not at them. Converse, don’t present. If you think about it in advance as a ‘discussion’, it’ll create greater peace of mind and ease.
If you take that same informal style with you on the day it’ll open up the communication, the connection and the possibilities.
MANAGING QUESTIONS AND CONCERNS
There are two things to be said about managing questions and concerns. Firstly, to the best of your ability, try to prepare for them. That means brainstorming alone or with colleagues the types of concerns the other party or parties may have. It may
mean emailing or phoning the audience in advance to find out directly what’s going on in their worlds and what’s bothering them right now, particularly about your topic or proposal.
Having found out what you can, if you think it’s an issue that’s top of mind enough for most of the people you’re speaking to, pre-empt the concern. Tackle it on the front foot, rather than react to it on the back foot once they ask. Be upfront and transparent
about what you understand the question to be and then express some empathy with words like “in speaking with a few of you beforehand, it seems that one concern on peoples’ minds is XYZ. That’s absolutely understandable and was certainly a concern I had when
I first considered this area. Let me take you on the journey of how I overcame that and how I currently think about it and why.” This is commonly known as ‘pacing out objections’ but goes further by putting yourself in their shoes and dealing with the concern
both intellectually and emotionally.
The second thought about managing objections or concerns is very much in keeping with the theme of this blog which is to be as relaxed as possible in advance, and trust you have the answers, or if you don’t, that you can ask to come back to them at a later
stage or even to throw to anyone else in the room for a discussion on what the answer could be. Why this emphasis on ‘relaxing’? Because a tight, tense brain is less spontaneous and creative in thinking of the right answer in the right way, than an open and
So that brings to a close this 4-part ‘Essence Of Communication’ series. In trying to find a simple way of summing it up, the old saying comes to mind “find your peace, find your love and do the next right thing”. In a communication sense that means find
the right mental approach that allows for openness, possibilities and synergies; be thoroughly prepared with both your questions and your business case; and then walk in with a spirit of trust, confidence and win-win solution-focus to ensure the best chance
of a positive outcome that strengthens the relationship and your reputation in the process.