Transition tips to take you from interesting to intriguing:
Edification is another way to make yourself more memorable than a competitor.
Perkins+Will is an architecture firm in Washington, D.C. They designed Barack and Michelle Obama’s offices after President Obama left the White House. They hired me to help improve their pitches because they were coming in second too many times when pitching against other firms for new business.
One key area I worked on was how they presented their team members. In their original presentations, they had a slide with all the employees who would work on the potential project. In the presentation, each person would tell the prospective clients how long they had worked at Perkins+Will and what their job was. It was boring at best. I worked with each team member to craft their own story of what made them become an architect or what they did before joining Perkins+Will. Their part of the in-person pitches became:
“When I was 11 years old I used to play with Legos. That inspired me to become an architect. Now I have a son that is 11 years old, and I still play with Legos with him. I will bring that same passion to this project.” – Bob, Architect
“Before coming to Perkins+Will, I was in the Israeli army, and I bring that same discipline and focus to ensuring that your project will come on time and under budget.” – Sue, Project Manager
That was a vast improvement, but then I added one more secret sauce to the mix. Remember the edification from above with Robert Cialdini’s “pre-suasion?” I have each team member edify the next person as if they were in a relay race. They hand off the presentation to the next presenter like runners handing off the baton in a relay race. It is literally another warm
welcome for each team member.
When Bob introduces Sue now, he says, “Sue and I have worked together for years, and she is the best at making things run smoothly.”
Once they made my recommended changes to becoming storytellers, they went on to win 3 new business presentations in a row and were happy they hired me as their persuasion keynote speaker.
Going into a pitch or a conversation with a warm introduction like that starts you off on the right foot, but you still need to have logical confidence before you start talking. American Professional tennis player Arthur Ashe said,”The key to success is confidence, and the key to confidence is preparation If you are winging it and not doing your homework to find out what a
client needs, who they are, or if you have connections in common, you are going in cold. You will also just be giving a presentation not customized to them, and won’t have much confidence that you’re going to get a yes. You will likely stumble through any questions asked, or they will ask something you can’t answer, and you’re dead in the water because you lack the confidence to handle that kind of a question.
I work with clients on their preparation which builds their confidence going into the pitch. In this work, I also teach them the importance of stacking their moments of certainty. For example, write down two or three times when you got a “yes.” Maybe it was to a business proposal, or getting a pitch meeting set, asking someone out on a date, being hired at a new company. Those are the things you can put in your head before you pick up the phone, send an email or go make a live presentation. Because when you stack these moments of certainty up, and you stack the feelings that go with it, your confidence and your ability to persuade someone to say yes goes up.