By Guest Contributor Nicole Soames
Author Nicole Soames, explains the basics of how to clarify the needs of the audience you are presenting to, based on her newest book The Presenting Book.
In addition to understanding your audience’s mindset, you need to clarify their needs by using your emotional intelligence (EQ) to ask clever questions and actively listen to their responses. For example, if you are representing your department at a town hall – a more formal scenario – you should take active steps to tap into the needs of your various stakeholders in advance.
DON’T JUST TALK TO THE SENIOR PEOPLE
You need to connect with every level to demonstrate you’ve covered all bases. It’s important not to make assumptions. Take the time in advance to engage with several members of the audience by asking probing questions to uncover how they are feeling and what they are thinking in order to gain a better understanding of the current situation from their perspective. This means harnessing your empathy so you can actively listen to what your audience has to say. Remember, hearing is involuntary whereas listening is a skill.
THE THREE LEVELS OF LISTENING
Level one, the lowest level, is superficial listening, where you are pretending to listen but are, in fact, thinking about something else entirely. This could be because you are too focused on what you want to say next.
Level two, which is marginally better than level one, is selective listening when you only hear what you want to hear.
Level three is active listening, where you harness your EQ to listen live in the moment so you can process exactly what the other person is saying. It takes real effort and concentration, and it involves reading their body language and tone of voice – after all, as I explained in Part One, only 7% of communication comes from the spoken word
THE DISC MODEL
By actively listening to your audience in this way, you will gain a really good insight as to what you need to prepare so you can inspire them emotionally and perhaps commercially (if that is appropriate).A great technique to help you achieve this is to understand your audience’s personality types using the DISC model, shown below. DISC, first outlined by the psychologist Dr William Marston in his book Emotions of Normal People, breaks down personality into four different types: dominant and driven (D), influencing and persuading (I), secure and steady (S), and compliant and considered (C).
PEOPLE ARE PREDICTABLY DIFFERENT
When you look at the diagram, it’s important to remember that people are predictably different. Everyone will fall somewhere along the axes of outgoing to reserved and task orientated to people focused. Outgoing types are fast-paced and get their energy from others, whereas reserved types are more measured and self-sufficient. People with a task preference will crave processes and plans, whereas those with a people preference will seek relationships and sharing. Let’s now look at each personality type in more detail:
• ‘D’ STYLE –dominant and driven.Think of people who communicate in a demanding and direct manner. They’re motivated by power and compelled to win and get results. For a person who is decisive and determined, their goal is to be in control and their most typical way to communicate is to tell others what to do
• ‘I’ STYLE –influencing and persuading.These people are interactive and inspirational. They are motivated by praise and recognition. They’re eager to get the job done, but unlike the hyper-focused Ds they will want to have fun in the process.Their most likely communication style is to try to influence the other person
• ‘S’ STYLE –secure and steady.These people are stable and supportive. They like to keep themselves on an even keel and make sure everyone is happy. Their preference is to organize everything as they don’t like conflict and want to preserve the status quo. As people who always put others first, their most likely communication style is to listen. They don’t want to upset the apple cart with a disruptively strong opinion
• ‘C’ STYLE –compliant and considered.Picture people you know who are motivated by processes and procedures.They need to have a system in place and will be keen to point out what the rules are. Because they are conscientious and detailed, quality is very important to them. Their preference is to communicate in writing, as this allows them to take their time and be accurate and precise
DISCS IN A REAL LIFE SCENARIO
A great way to help you fully understand how these descriptions translate into different personality types is to imagine being in an elevator with a group of people. ‘D’ types will make a determined entrance, purposefully hitting the ‘close the doors’ button, while ‘I’ types won’t be able to resist making conversation with the other people. ‘S’ types will be patiently holding the door open, saying there’s plenty of room for more, and the ‘C’ types will be calculating the weight of everyone in the elevator to make sure it doesn’t exceed the maximum capacity! By recognizing your audience’s personality type – and they’ll usually be a blend of these types – you will become more informed about how they make decisions, which will give you valuable clues as to the best way to present to them. So, from your first interaction with them, try to notice whether they are more outgoing or reserved. Was their first contact via email or did they pick up the phone to talk to you in person? It’s generally easier to spot an outgoing person, so if you can’t seem to read them the likelihood is that they tend to be private and therefore reserved.
HOW TO TRANSLATE THIS TO AUDIENCE QUESTIONS
You need to bear all of this in mind when you ask specific members of your audience questions in advance of your presentation. For example, when you are listening to the needs of a ‘D’ style personality type, take care to consider that they are likely to be direct and to the point. As such, you need to highlight the impact of the current situation on their results.
When you are listening to an ‘I’ style personality type, ensure you give them plenty of time to talk and air their views. Try to keep the conversation centred on the big picture and avoid focusing too much on the detail.
Don’t be surprised if you first need to offer your opinion to help the ‘S’ style personality type feel comfortable enough to open up and share their point of view.
If you want to understand the perspective of a‘C’ style personality type, you would be wise to ask them in advance so they have time to think about their view and communicate it to you with accuracy.
Now that you are armed with this information, together with your key insights, you can draw on it to put your key messages together in a way that is likely to make your audience feel valued and appreciated. This will make it easier to land your key points, make a genuine connection and build trust. The more effort you put into understanding your audience’s needs and matching them with your personal goals, the greater impact you will make.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
NICOLE SOAMES is a highly qualified coach and emotional intelligence practitioner. She gained extensive commercial experience during her 12 years managing large sales teams at Unilever andUnited Biscuits, followed by over 15 years developing and deliver-ing training programmes around the world. In 2009, Nicole founded Diadem Performance, a leading commercial skills training and coach-ing company. With over 100 clients across the globe, Diadem has helped many thousands of people become ‘commercial athletes’ in influencing, selling, negotiation, account management, marketing, presenting, strategy, coaching, leadership and management. Nicole is also the author of the bestselling The CoachingBook, The Influence Book and The Negotiation Book, all in the Concise Advice series from LID Business Media.
We often hear the phrase you only get one chance to make a great first impression when, in fact, it s the impressions we make on a daily basis that make a compelling personal brand. In today s increasingly competitive world, the ability to present the best version of yourself in both formal and informal situations is critical to your success.
The Presenting Book is an inspiring and engaging handbook packed with Nicole Soames expert advice, practical tools and exercises. This book will teach you how to become a highly skilled presenter in all areas of your life whether you re presenting a sales report to the board, promoting your personal brand online, networking at an event or being the keynote speaker at a conference. You ll learn how to develop your emotional intelligence, capture and hold peoples attention and deliver your performance with confidence.
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