Remember what you’re going to say?

How do you remember what you’re going to say? If you’re giving a talk or a presentation, how do you remember what to say? Can you memorise a couple of hours worth of material, or do you have a clever way of reminding yourself what you need to cover?

I usually start by writing out what I want to say, in long hand – or the typed version. Then I go through it and highlight the key words or phrases that will remind me what I’ll be talking about as I go through the session. They get marked with a highlighter pen or put in bold. After that I usually create a postcard for each section of the talk, with the keywords written on them. I take the cards with me and put them somewhere that I can see them, where they won’t distract my audience. I’ve been using this technique for many years, since I learnt it at Toastmasters (a great place to start to learn about public speaking, by the way.) Most of the time the postcards work quite well, but I have to make sure I don’t put so much onto each one, or the writing gets too small. Which means that I can’t always get enough onto the card to remind me of everything I want to cover.

And then I learnt a great new technique! It was at the monthly session of a peer to peer group I belong to, called MD2MD. Our speaker, David Hyner, taught us this great new way of remembering stuff. He read out a list of about 20 words and on their own, none of us could remember beyond the first three or four. Then he had us attach an emotion to each word – joy, fear or love. When he read out the list again, I started to see the words as pictures – things I knew or had seen somewhere else recently; things that made me laugh or smile at. Being a visual person anyway, this really brought the list of words to life and all of a sudden I could remember them, like a story. When we were asked if anyone would like to have a go at remembering the whole list, I volunteered. I scored 20 out of 20 and won a bar of chocolate for my efforts!

To prove that this wasn’t a fluke, I decided to try out the technique when I got home. I was due to give a 30 minute presentation the next morning at a networking event. I got out my coloured pens and a sheet of card. I looked through the presentation that I’d already typed out and turned the highlighted words into colourful images. Now, each section of my talk was represented by a picture!

The following morning I took my pictures to the networking event and had them on the table next to the flip chart. Each time I needed to know what came next, I just looked at the pictures and knew exactly what to say! Rather than seeing a list of words, I saw an image that represented paragraphs of a whole page of text. It was one of the most enjoyable presentations I’ve given for a while!

In this blog is a picture of the images I drew for the presentation. It won’t mean much to you, but I thought you might like to see what you can do!

Great marketing won’t get you anywhere ……unless you know how to sell and close the deal!

You can spend a lot of time, effort and money generating enquiries, getting your phone to ring and having meetings with prospective clients. But if you don’t have a great way of asking for the sale and getting it, you’ll be wasting all that time and expense.

Here is a simple sales process that I was taught by a very experienced Sales Consultant. I use it a lot, to great effect and have shared it with many other consultants and coaches. It works very well in face to face meetings; you can also use it for sales phone calls.

Situation questions – start by asking your prospect about their business. What do they do? Who are their clients? What are their dreams and plans for their business? These questions will help you build up rapport with them and allow you to get to know them better. They will also start to highlight any issues they have.

Problem questions – then ask what issues they’re struggling with at the moment, related to what you do. For me, these will be questions about what marketing they are doing, or the number of new clients they want to attract and what’s stopping them.

Implication questions – what will happen if they don’t address the problems and do anything about them? You need to ask this question, because it starts your prospect really thinking about what might or might not happen to their business, if the problem persists.

Urgency and importance questions – how urgently do they want to deal with the issue? Are they looking for help right now, or within the next six months? This will help you plan your solution and any follow up. Is it important to them right now, or are there more pressing issues they need to deal with? If the latter, no matter how great your solution, they won’t be ready to buy from you just yet.

There are two things to point out at this stage – firstly you’ve still not told your prospect anything about your business – other than what they already know about you. Don’t be tempted to jump in at any stage with your ‘presentation’ because if you do, you won’t win the sale. Secondly, you’ve also asked a number of ‘commitment’ questions, which help you establish whether or not you need to carry on talking to this prospect.

And the third thing to point out … is that I’ll tell you the next steps of this sales process in a future blog – so come back soon!

How do you make a great networking impression?

Chantal

I went to a networking lunch earlier this week, where I heard some great one minute introductions. One lady stood up and said that her ideal clients are dead! Then she told us that she’s a solicitor who specialises in wills and probate! Someone else chanted a Tibetan prayer (he takes people on spiritual journeys).

Telling a room full of people what you do in just one minute isn’t always easy. Sometimes a minute is all you have, so you need to think of ways of making a great impression. If you’re at a lunch or breakfast meeting, not only do you have to compete with everyone else in the room; you also have to compete with the food.

Instead of starting with your name and company name, why not trying asking a question or making a statement – it can even be controversial. Then, when you’ve got the attention of your audience, you can tell them who you are and what you do.

How about using a prop or two? Think of a visual way of communicating what you do so that people can really see what you’re talking about.

If you’d like more ideas on making a great impression when you go networking, come to a workshop I’m running in Oxford on 27 April. Email me or post a comment for more details.