I recently delivered a one-day class called Public Speaking for the Faint-hearted. The basic idea of the class, as you can imagine, is to provide useful tools and advice for getting up in front of an audience. To that end, throughout the day, participants had an opportunity to give brief presentations to the group.
During a break, one of the participants said, “Everything you’ve told us applies directly to sales.” He was referring to the first half of the day when I discuss the psychological aspects of public speaking, diving into the role that fear plays in preventing people from enthusiastically getting up in front of a group. That part of the class addresses the speaker’s relationship with the audience.
A few things are necessary for a good presentation that connects you with your listeners:
- It’s always about the audience and not about your ego as a speaker.
- You must develop a relationship—make a real connection—with the audience if you are going to give them real value.
- In order to make the connection, you have to understand what the audience wants.
- Understand that the audience knows when you are faking it.
The rest is pretty much mechanics.
And this is, essentially, what the participant in my class was saying. “These are the same things we need in sales. And it’s a big problem for us. A lot of salespeople make it about them. They’re afraid to fail, afraid to look silly, afraid to get a ‘no’ from the prospect. What salespeople need is confidence and the ability to understand who they’re selling to.”
The participant, a principal in two companies, said, “We’ve had to move people out of sales. They knew the products inside and out, but they just couldn’t make that connection.”
As it turns out, this recipe for success in public speaking and sales applies to almost every relationship you come across.
Think about your workplace and the people in it. How much better can your group work when all of you take the time to understand where each other is coming from? This impacts team work, morale, productivity, and ultimately the results your company or organization is getting.
Think about your home life. How much more peaceful is the house when you understand each other and work together to resolve problems? Instead of pushing each other’s buttons or trying to control others, understanding your partner’s, spouse’s, or kid’s needs produces far better results.
There’s nothing that unique about public speaking and the skillset required to do it well. It’s the same basic skillset you need to function in every other part of your life at a high level.