Archive for February, 2010

Keynote vs. PowerPoint

February 23, 2010

Almost as dangerous as PowerPoint

At New Tricks Training we have a saying… “PowerPoint is a powerful tool, but so’s a Smith & Wesson. In the wrong hands both can kill.”

Of course, it comes down to obeying some golden rules of PowerPoint:

  • Use no more than 20 words a slide over no more than six bullet points
  • Use high-resolution pictures to tell a story
  • Never use clip art (all the images have already been seen before)
  • Don’t apply in-house brand guidelines unless designed specifically for projection
  • Don’t put copy right messages on slides you intend to show to an audience – it just distracts
  • Choose your background carefully
  • Don’t use distracting animations.

Here’s an article from the BBC. But there again the tool you use to make your point powerfully can make a huge difference. Where we can we use Apple’s presentation software, Keynote.  Whether you use PowerPoint or Keynote (or even Prezi – more of that another time) we’re only too willing to help folk design a better presentation. Here’s a short demonstration of Keynote’s versatility.

The Perfect Pitch

February 22, 2010

In an ever more sophisticated and competitive world, increasingly businesses (even small ones) are being asked to tender for work, either through a formal process of submitting a tender document followed by a presentation, or by presenting their proposals in competition with others. This way in which business is won can create real problems unless the sales team learns to adapt their approach.

In business-to-business selling a transaction is often conducted technician to technician or specialist to specialist. As a result there is usually a common understanding about what the solution to be purchased needs to achieve and so the discussion can focus on the technical elements of the proposition.  However, if the buying decision is to be made by panel, it introduces a whole new dynamic.

Pitching to a panel?

Suppose you have been asked to tender for the supply of a new software solution for a large company; it is vital to recognise that you cannot simply submit a technical specification and expect to win the business. Your tender document and your presentation will be scrutinised by a group of people – all with very different agendas.  You may well find yourself having to satisfy the needs of the IT Director, the Sales Director, the Finance Director, the end user and the HR Director. What is more, it may be the absent Managing Director, based upon recommendations from the panel, who takes the ultimate decision.

We recently tendered to support a large organisation, who were in turn tendering for a major contract. As we were pitching for the business, our research quickly confirmed that their requirements went far beyond the initial request for help with just the delivery of the presentation, which is where they assumed they had been losing out.  In fact, they had been making the mistake of sending out the technical champion of the product who could (and did) talk about the technical features for hours, supported by his PowerPoint Presentation with 142 very wordy slides !

An “aha” moment for them came when one of the team used the analogy of selling a car: “You wouldn’t send out a mechanic to sell it, would you?”

They asked for one day of ‘Presentations Skills Training’ evolved into three days where the first two were used to analyse and understand the needs and aspirations of the individuals on the purchasing panel, before honing the message to satisfy them all.  By the end of our third day we had worked together, yes, on the skills to deliver a great pitch presentation but more importantly on its structure, the words to be used and the supporting visual aids. They are now winning the pitches they were losing before.

The moral of the story is this; tendering and competitive pitches are much more than just another sale and there is a path to follow that will give the best chance of success. Whatever you do: put yourself into the shoes of the individuals on the panel consider their concerns and then address them!

How to Remember People’s Names…

February 4, 2010

When we run a training course we take a good deal of trouble to remember the names of our delegates. That can be difficult when there are more than sixteen or so – but not impossible. It’s a great skill to have (it is a skill – rather than a gift – you can get better at it the more you practise) and always impresses.

As Dale Carnegie (author of “How to Win Friends and Influence People”) wrote, ”If you remember my name, you pay me a subtle compliment; you indicate that I have made an impression on you. Remember my name and you add to my feeling of importance.”

When building relationships – say at a networking event – it can fast-track rapport building. After all, if you forget the name of the person who just introduced themselves to you just three minutes ago, your brain tends to fixate on the fact you’ve forgotten – and if you’re not careful you then forget to listen as you tell yourself “I can’t remember her name…I can’t remember her name!”

So, here then are our Top Tips that will help you remember people’s names…

Stage One: Switch Off Your Brain!

Often our head is full of internal chatter at the point we meet someone new. You know the sort of thing: “Will they like me?” or “I really don’t like networking…”  or even “My goodness – what is he wearing?”  You might be playing amateur psychologist in assessing their handshake… “Ugh! What a wet-fish of a handshake!” All of this internal chatter (for want of a better description) can get in the way at a very important stage of commencing a new relationship. So prime yourself. Ready yourself by clearing this internal chatter. In short make yourself ready to receive the name of the person you are about to be introduced to. Tell yourself – “I’m about to hear a name – I must catch it!” and now you’re ready for Stage Two.

Hear It!

Stage Two: Hear It!

Sounds bloomin’ obvious, but now you’ve primed yourself to hear the name – you’ll be amazed at how many people don’t actually tell you their name when they introduce themselves. They’ll say hello – of course – but often people just don’t tell you their name (and this is one of the reasons you don’t remember it.)  Your brain, in the past, has tricked you into believing you’ve forgotten it!  So, now you’re primed and alert you’ll know whether they have or haven’t. If they haven’t just say, “Sorry I didn’t catch your name.” rather than the less supportive, “…and your name is…? Assuming they have told you their name check that you’ve heard it correctly by moving onto Stage Three…

Use it or Lose it!

Stage Three – Use it…or Lose it.

Use the name of the person you’ve just been introduced to. Use it in a conversational way. “So, David what is it you do, then?” “Tell me, David is this a group you attend regularly?” Assuming that his name is David he’ll be impressed! Honest. Some people have a real problem with this. They’ll say, “I can’t do that,  it sounds ‘salesy’ or ‘smarmy.'”  Well, work on it so it sounds genuine, then. If you’ve remembered his name you can concentrate on what he’s saying. It also means you can introduce him to other people and it means you can say goodbye courteously. People often tell us they have real problems, “moving on” at networking events.  This overcomes that problem. Just hold out your hand and say, “Well David, it’s been a pleasure meeting you,” and you’re on your way.

Other Tips:

David? David?

Association (works for some people) Are there any other Davids that you know? Call them to mind. Picture the new David standing with the other David. The very act of thinking this helps lodge the name in the brain (for the reason why, see Tony Buzan’s writing about memory – Use Your Head or The Memory Book and many more.)

Use your Own Name Help the other party out – use your own name in conversation. “People say to me, “Ken how do you remember people’s names so quickly?”” They’ll love you for it, especially if they’ve forgotten it.

Wear a name-badge in the RIGHT place Don’t rely on name badges to remember other people’s names – they’ll often wear them in places that means your eye-contact may stray where it’s not welcome! If YOU wear a name badge wear it high on you RIGHT-hand lapel. As you shake hands it will be in the natural line of sight.

Admit it! So many people have a problem remembering names they’ll forgive you saying, “I know we’ve only just met but I’ve forgotten your name.” Not ideal, but if it helps you stop worrying about it worth doing (once only please!)

Please share your Top Tips for remembering names – we’d love to try them out too! And if you want even more TIPS see our FREE Downloads Page