Fewer Talking Points and More Attention

Whether or not your political candidates were successful last week, most of us are at least relieved that the U.S. elections are over! We have been “talking point”ed to death!

Politicians (and business leaders) often tell us they want to know what we think. However, more often we experience this as, “Here’s what I’m going to tell you.” Sometimes it’s pithy. Sometimes it’s boring. But all the time it’s about them.

If you want to connect with executives, your people and your clients, try using a listener’s presentation.

Prep Work #1: Start with You—But Don’t Stay There!

Yes: there has to be a reason for you to have a meeting or conversation. Setting a SMART goal is where you begin.

When you’re clear on this, write it down. That sends your goal from your conscious to your subconscious mind—which wants you to get what you want. Your subconscious has access to 14+ million bits of information per second, versus the 10-50 in your conscious mind. This allows you to tap strategies and phrases that will move you toward your goal.

Prep Work #2: Create Effective Messages

Yes: you have to be able to say things that will support achieving your goal. That lies at the intersection between what people want to hear and what you want to say.

Use my process of answering six questions to get you there. Then prioritize them into your top three points.

Know that people can only hold three ideas in their short-term memories without getting overloaded. (This could be one reason why the presidential debates tired us out: our brains were too full!)

Prep Work #3: Now You’re Ready to Listen

Yes: you have a choice: listening to respond or listening for understanding and empathy. Of course you’re smart to choose the latter—because we all know how it feels when people can’t wait until we shut up so they can talk!

How a Listener’s Presentation Looks

One of my favorite examples comes from a leading residential real estate professional: Bradley Speck. Bradley starred in HGTV’s House Hunters an unprecedented four times. He’s also a five-time winner of the Five Star Real Estate Professional Award, which is based on customer feedback. Here’s how he describes his listener’s presentation.

“People appreciate being heard,” he explains. “When walking through a home with a prospective buyer, all I bring is a blank pad of paper. There’s no PowerPoint here! I ask open-ended questions. What do they like? What do they hate? Then I listen and write down their answers, and I don’t share my opinions or advice unless asked.

“People are grateful when they see you’re interested in what they want. And you show this by having all your questions tie back to getting a better understanding of their perspective. A listener’s presentation makes it all about them. It builds a bond between you and creates trust,” Bradley adds.

Make Your Next Presentation All about THEM

I remember my first attempts at making cold calls (my palms are sweating just thinking about it!). There were so many things I wanted to say—before the other person said “no” or hung up.

The truth is why would anyone want to work with me when all I was doing was talking about myself?

Watch for that creep of self-centered talking points in your next conversation or meeting. Be as curious about what someone else wants as Bradley is with his customers. This builds a relationship rather than a transaction. And—let’s face it—asking questions and listening gets you better results and is a whole lot easier on your palms!