The LURES Of Negotiating

One of the most important skills each of us need to develop and enhance is to become a truly effective negotiator. In nearly every aspect of our lives, business, personal, organization, etc., we very often discover ourselves in a situation that rerquires negotiating skills. Since there are very few, if any, scenarios when there is total and complete agreement, we end up in some sort of negotiations if we wish to get things accomplished. Imagine family situations, especially either between siblings, between spouses, or between parent and children, and think about how often there is a need to negotiate? Most businesses need to make certain choices and/ or decisions on a daily basis, if they are to progress in a meaningful basis. Perhaps one of the biggest stumbling blocks that occur in politics is that there are a dearth of political leaders that are effective negotiators. Those desirous of becoming effective and meaningful negotiators should prioritize the LURE of negotiating: listen; understand; repeat; empathize; and seize control of the situation.

1. It all begins with being an effective listener. This means that you not only pay attention and hear what others say, but commit to acquiring all necessary facts and information that will make you have more clarity.

2. While listening is an essential first step, unless it is followed by understanding what is both being said, and what is left unsaid, there is little opportunity to communicate in a manner that accomplishes one’s goals and aspirations. This requires follow up questions that probe as deeply as possible, so as to realize the nuances and meanings that the other person is implying.

3. Once one feels that he has a clearer understanding of the needs, wants and position of the other person, there is a need to repeat what one believes is being said, doing so in the form of a question, in order to get agreement as to what needs to be discussed, and the issues involved.

4. While the first three steps are quite important, perhaps the most essential component and often overlooked one, is being empathetic. An individual must be empathetic without appearing sympathetic. Empathy may simply be considered as putting yourself in the other person’s place (so as to better understand both how they feel and the needs), while sympathy is merely feeling sorry for someone (which may be appropriate in short doses in certain scenarios, but almost never in negotiating situations).

5. All of these preliminary steps need to culminate in a position where an effective negotiator is able to seize control of the situation. It is important to understand, however, that gaining control is far different than trying to negate the other party’s needs. Rather, when you are able to maintain control, you can move the negotiation forward in progressive manner, striving for the goal of win – win results.

Since negotiating skills are so important, doesn’t it make sense for each of us to become better at them? Therefore, doesn’t it make sense to proceed in an orderly and organized manner, effectively utlizing these five steps?

Your Presentation: Graveyard Session or Angelina Jolie?

They may be rare – few and far between – but some presentations are like watching Angelina Jolie go by in a short skirt. They compel your attention. And if the presenter really knows their stuff, Angelina might even stop, indulge a wink and blow a kiss your way. But sadly, most are not. Most presentations are more like a Sunday afternoon in an unused municipal graveyard…in bad weather…in uncomfortable underwear.

So if you’re determined to treat your next audience to Angelina, rather than a crow-ridden plot, where do you start?

Well, logic dictates that we begin by asking what goes into creating a graveyard presentation and then, by reverse-engineering, we will work our way back to a really top notch talk.

Creating the Graveyard

Most graveyard presentations suffer from these three ills:

1. Too much dry fact, and not enough emotive language
2. Too much explanation, and not enough relevance
3. Too many slides, not enough imagination.

Presentations are not about fact. They are about Impact.

Turning your presentation back into Angelina is actually not difficult. Your task is to take the most important and poignant facts and make them really come to life. Remember: the facts are not the important thing. The impact that they make; that’s what truly matters.

So, how do you make dry facts impactful? With stories and metaphors, the two legs that Angelina stands on.

Creating Angelina

Using stories and metaphors is actually quite easy. It is simply the act of saying, “It’s like…”, and then creating a small series of mental pictures.

Using ‘It’s Like…’ is a wonderfully effective way of taking a complex, abstract idea and turning it into something that people can ‘see;’ something that they can ‘get’ quickly. It’s the difference between saying, “We’re a small company competing against big brand names,” versus: “We’re that four foot nothing martial artist that takes on the six foot boxers… and flattens them all!”

You can use metaphors in your speeches, sales pitches, articles and interviews. In fact, use them whenever you need to persuade. Metaphors get the job done quickly, in addition to being novel and memorable. Here are some examples:

An American professional speaker describing what it’s like to speak for the Youth market: “You have to smuggle your messages in-between stories. You have to be like a motivational ninja!”

The Chief Financial Officer of an investment firm, after the Recession: “This time last year, you were lost in the forest and you were afraid, and you turned to me for guidance. What you didn’t know was that I was equally scared. But that wasn’t good enough. So we dug deep, and pulled on a hundred years of experience, and sought real answers. We found a glimmer of light in one direction and led you that way. We are proud to say that we are now emerging from the forest, and the choice we made for you was borne out as the right one.”

If you regularly watch the television show ‘Top Gear,’ you will have heard the mastery with which Jeremy Clarkson makes dry car facts come to life. Here are a few of his gems:

• “It was a bit like putting a sticking plaster on a leaking nuclear missile!”
• “Look at the way it’s shaped. It looks like a dog hunkering down to do its business.”
• “Most supercars make you feel like you’re wrestling an elephant up the back stairs of an apartment building. But this one is like rubbing honey into Kiera Knightley!”
• “This thing has so much torque, it could tear a hole in time!”
• “It’s about as feminine as a burst sausage!”

The next time you’re toiling away at a PowerPoint presentation, ask yourself whether you are creating impact, or simply listing facts. If you find you’ve done nothing but record dry details over sixteen slides, consider whether you can’t do better. You may want to try your hand at turning fact into impact. Your tools are simple: stories and metaphors.

Appeal to the imagination and you will be memorable. You will have impact. Your presentation will be the intellectual equivalent of Angelina catching your eye…and blowing a kiss!

5 Investor Presentation Tips to Decrease Your Anxiety

When presenting to investors, the most important thing influencing your audience is visual (i.e., your body language), then vocal (your voice and speaking rhythm) and then verbal (the story you tell).

Also, when you present in front of a group, your natural “fight or flight” instincts kick in. Your adrenaline starts pumping and you often get anxious and fidgety. The way that you act as a result of this poorly impacts your audience’s perception of you.

To decrease your anxiety, use the following techniques:

1. Practice, practice and practice some more. The more you practice your presentation, the more comfortable you will be when you give it.

2. Concentrate. Just like an elite athlete, you need to clear your mind before the presentation so you can fully concentrate on the task at hand.

3. Shift Your Focus from You to Them. If you give a presentation and your best friend happens to be in the room, chances are that after the presentation the first question you will ask your friend is “How did I do?”

It is this mentality of thinking about yourself that makes people nervous. Rather, focus on the audience. Look at them and think “how are they doing?” This will allow you to present more effectively.

4. Focus on specific people in the audience. Whether there are three prospective investors or business partners in the room, or you are speaking to a room of 50 or 500, you need to visually focus on one person at a time. That is, pick one person to start and complete your first main point. Then you should shift to different people for each key point you make during the presentation. This helps you concentrate better and make sure you are focusing on the audience rather than on yourself.

5. Practice your hand gestures. Hand gestures often positively engage an audience. But, making hand gestures in front of an audience often feels awkward and uncomfortable. You must practice using them with “warmer” audiences (e.g., your friends, co-workers and/or employees) until they become second nature.

Like it or not, your public speaking ability and presentation skills are more important than the content of your presentations. As such, successful entrepreneurs need to master these skills. Use these tips to improve your skills, and remember to really practice all your presentations before the actual event. As you know, in most cases, you only get one shot at key presentations.