Are you watching the Olympics?
Some very compelling story lines and great competitions. I'm always inspired by these athletes who have put in hours and hours to reach that level of excellence.
Sometimes when I watch with friends or family, I find myself distracted from the message by the comical comments people make concerning the appearance of the people. I think it must be natural. you've probably even done it.
"What's up with that dood's hair?"
"There's no way he was an Olympic athlete."
"Why does one eyebrow move up and not the other?"
"She look like she stank."
"Didn't she look in the mirror after she put THAT on?"
My take on this, and the sales message for us is that the PERSON behind the words-- their delivery and appearance-- makes a huge difference in how the message is interpreted.
I'm probably not going out on too much of a limb here by stating that you probably sell a pretty good product or service. But unless it sells itself, YOU play a major role in how it is perceived when you're on the phone talking about it. The better YOU are, the more you sell. The common sense and the obvious are tough to be improved upon.
Some people believe that communicating on the phone is a disadvantage because listeners can't see us. I believe that actually is an advantage... you don't need to worry about physical appearance. On the phone, it all relies on what they hear. That's why to be your best you need to work on it. Here are some ideas.
GET RID OF THE NONWORDS I find some people have this nasty habit to a very severe degree. When a listener counts how many times they hear "um" instead of focusing on the message you know there's a problem. The persuasive speakers, on the other hand, don't use these filler sounds, or at least their use is minimal.
Action Item: Susan Berkley, author of Voice Shaping, suggests that the first step to the cure is identifying the enemy. Record yourself and count how many fillers you use. Once you're aware of your most common non-words, consciously replace them with pauses.
You can also control the nonword habit by getting your spouse or friend or cubicle-neighbor to say "bingo" or some other code word every time you use a nonword. By the way, this also applies to habits such as "you know," "like," "I mean," and anything else you use way too often.
ENUNCIATE! A guest on The O'Reilly Factor mumbled so much I had to turn the volume WAY UP so I could try to make out what he said. If I didn't care about what he was saying, I wouldn't have worked so hard. And your listeners might not work that hard for you.
Action Item: Read this several times- "If, I, Place, an, invisible, comma, after, each, word, and, an, invisible, semicolon; after, some, words, my, speech, has, presence." This forces you to enunciate.
Action Item 2: Practice tongue twisters to articulate clearly. Recite this one now, several times while picking up speed each time: "Frank phoned four pharmaceutical factories feeling fresh and fulfilled."
GET UP TO SPEED The more persuasive of the talking heads during interviews make their talking points quickly and don't mince words. We all can learn from that. After all, why use 100 words when 50 could make the same point? And don't speak at 33 RPM's when your listeners are at 78. (You won't get that reference if you don't know what record players are.)
In the book, "Smart Speaking, " Laurie Schloff and Marcia Yudkin say that when you speak too slowly you could be perceived as boring, tried, or less intelligent than you actually are.
Action Item: Practice getting to your point more quickly. Ask yourself a question you get during calls. Use stopwatch and give yourself 45 seconds to answer. Then cut it to 30, then 20. Tape your response and refine your answer content and delivery.
FINISH WITH STRENGTH Professional speaker and presentation coach and trainer Marjorie Brody http://www.marjoriebrody.com/ cautions against letting your voice rise at the end of a sentence.
In her book, "Speaking your Way to the Top," she suggests recording yourself. If you notice your voice rising at the end of a sentence it sounds as though you are asking a question, are tentative, or are a junior-high girl. If you tend to swallow your last few words, that reduces the impact of what you're saying.
Action Item: Practice finishing sentences completely and drop your pitch slightly while keeping the volume strong.
The interest that others have in your message is largely controlled by YOU and your delivery. Strive to reach Olympic-level performance. When you do, you'll sell more cars, more profitably, more often.