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How to hold your audience in a negotiation

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Negotiation touches every part of our lives. Relationships in business and in our personal lives are negotiated. And the skills to do it effectively can often mean the difference between getting what you want or losing out. You don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate!

In the first section of the book, How to be a Great Negotiator, written by property economist, investor and developer Neville Berkowitz, the characteristic traits of a great negotiator are explored in short, bite-sized nuggets of advice.

Over the next few months, we will bring you the traits needed to succeed at the art of negotiating.

(Courtesy of PersonalEmpowerment.co)

95 Presentation skills

Great negotiators are effective presenters and communicators. In advertising they say, “Ninety cents of your advertising dollar is in the headline.” This principle applies when presenting your viewpoint or making your pitch. You have a 30 second headline window of opportunity to grab the other party’s attention and make a strong impression. If you grab them with a strong opening, you take control of the negotiation.

In these first crucial moments, they are not concerned with whom you work for – or even in the “bells and whistles” of your product or service. They are assessing your appearance, your stature, your professional competence. They are buying – or not buying – you. So your job is to sell yourself through persuasion. It’s important to find a way to engage and involve them, to grab and hold their attention by appealing to their interests, and to awaken their enthusiasm. If you don’t grab them in the first 30 seconds, you may lose their interest, their attention, and their sympathy. And this generally means losing the negotiation.

An ideal location for a presentation is a beautifully furnished room with comfortable chairs and decorated with sculpture, paintings, and flower arrangements. It should be well-stocked with coffee, tea, pastries, or healthy snacks. The average person attending a visual presentation takes in roughly 80% of what is presented to their eyes. Their hearing accounts for only 10%, and the other 10% occurs via smell, touch, and taste. So, a pleasing visual and sensory environment that satisfies and nourishes all the senses opens people up and makes them more comfortable and receptive.

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Visual aids allow people to sit back, relax, and follow along. And they lessen the tendency for concentration to wander. Using visual aids such as printed material, slides, overhead projectors, computers, tablets, and cell phone pictures or text all help the other party to participate and focus on your presentation, planting your ideas, materials, and message in their minds.

Know the impact of colour in your presentation. Different colours evoke different reactions. Red is strong; blue is calming; green is growing and environmentally friendly; yellow is bright; orange invigorating; white denotes peace; black is dark; purple is royal and rich; and grey is neutral. Other colours carry various meanings and qualities. This is something you can explore in greater depth.

When making a visual presentation, use your voice and your visual aids to focus the other party’s attention on the salient points. It’s good to introduce and emphasise the salient points numerically, in order of importance or natural sequence, and recap them again in conclusion at the end.

Making eye contact with your audience while enumerating each salient point throughout the presentation substantially increases their interest and retention. Using a pointer or laser pen allows you to direct their attention to particular points, helping them to focus and more quickly absorb information.

Using a pen as a visual aid is also a good attention-directing tactic when signing contracts and closing a deal. By lifting the pen in front of you in a gesture as you speak, their eyes will follow it. At the appropriate time, place the pen on the order form or contract to begin the signing and their eyes will follow to the point where you want them to look.

It’s not about you

Yet it’s generally best not to start your presentation with “I.” Because, although they want to know who you are and if they can trust you, it really isn’t about you. Their interest in you is a function of their self-interest. Their primary interest lies in getting what they want or finding a solution to their situation or problem. Their primary interest in you is about what you can do for them, and about any ideas or information you may have that will serve their primary reasons for attending.

So start the presentation in the best “sweet spot” you can find that directly touches on their self-interest and which leads to the issue, service, or product you have both come to negotiate about. Remember that self-interest is what brings everyone to a negotiation. So, speak to their self-interest in terms that they immediately understand, and that pique their interest and hold their attention.

For example, start the presentation with “You,” the locus of their self-interest. And “you” also includes the work they do or the company or business they represent. For example: “You are a leading XYZ organisation in ABC and you can remain there for a lot longer than your competitors think you can.” Or, “You are the seventh most profitable XYZ organisation, and we can help you get into the top three [rankings] within two years.” Or, “Your problem is that you have unallocated expenses sitting in your Office General Account, and your current system doesn’t have the memory capacity for total cost recovery, which makes it hard to figure out payments to clients. Our system will fix that glitch and streamline your financial operations.”

At the start, your presentation must be simple, clear, articulate, and easy to follow. Speak to your audience in realistic but optimistic terms that raise their hopes and expectations, that conjure pictures and possibilities in their minds, or that succinctly outlines their problem and offer a solution.

Give relevant or compelling details, but don’t burden your initial presentation with too many details, statistics, and facts. You can develop these over the course of the negotiation. Use short, sharp, emphatic points to drive home the benefits you are proposing. Wherever possible allow your audience to visualise a picture or image of what their “first prize” would be by using what you are offering them.

Let your energy, optimism, and enthusiasm be contagious. Let your poise and confidence instil trust that you are the person who can help them and that they have come to the right place. Confidence, poise, and authority are communicated through eye contact, facial expressions, and body language, which are a crucial part of your initial presentation.

Depending on your audience, some showmanship – emphatic gestures, relevant props, dramatic delivery – can be effective in grabbing their attention and emphasising your points. To learn from the best, go to YouTube and watch videos of great magicians and motivational speakers. Study how they use their voices, gestures, body language, and facial expressions to establish rapport and hold an audience’s attention. Or watch a good waiter in a high-class restaurant introduce himself and describe the specials for the evening.

Experiment with and practice your presentation skills until they become second nature, a natural and intuitive part of your professional persona.


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