5 Ways to Always Say the Right ThingThe higher up we are in the power hierarchy, the less preparation we think we need. Leaders sometimes become less effective over time, rather than more effective, in terms of influencing, motivating, and inspiring others. Our messages get buried or diluted in a poorly articulated or badly organized presentation.
Professional athletes are taught to perform at high levels of proficiency in any kind of situation because of one factor: preparation. The seasoned players train and drill just as hard as the rookies. They prepare and practice, season after season, until their movements and techniques are second nature.
When leaders use a similar process, they will say the right thing—consistently—no matter what the other side throws them. Here are five strategies to help you say the right thing in all of your business interactions.
Run through your routine.
Almost every professional athlete scripts his or her entire competition day (including precompetition routine, during-competition performance, and postcompetition celebration /recovery). Successful athletes intrinsically know down to the smallest detail what they need to do to deliver consistently great performances. The same is true in business. Before any “performance,” such as an important phone call, meeting, or presentation, run through the routine like a pro athlete. This simple mental training technique delivers astonishing results.
See every workday as a performance.
Each time you make a sales pitch, facilitate a meeting, or participate in a performance review, you are performing. For nonathletes, these business performances are every bit as important to success as throwing the game-winning touchdown is to an NFL quarterback. The sooner you come to view your workday as a performance, the sooner you’ll understand how to apply mental tools to help deliver the messages you want—exactly the way you want to.
Harness your emotions wisely.
Whether you’re talking to a potential client or delivering a proposal to coworkers, a key to staying focused on your words and their effect on the listener is to control your emotional state. Whether it’s fear you’re feeling or passionate enthusiasm, very strong emotions get in the way of solid performance. Imagine a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 is bored and lethargic, and 10 is out of control. Now figure out where on the scale you need to be, emotionally, to move and motivate your audience. The right dose of fear can actually make you try harder and be more humble, and the right dose of passion can imbue your words with more power.
Write your scripts.
This technique may sound superfluous to those at the top of the food chain in their business. But writing scripts is one of the most effective ways to rejuvenate your effectiveness as a communicator. Here’s how to do it. First, give it a title. (For example, Script for Cold Calls, or Script for Board Meetings). Second, write down the three most important things you need to convey in one very short sentence each. Don’t add any fluff or elaboration. Focus your scripts on the main goal or desired outcome of the communication. Leave a space between each sentence to drop in details pertinent to the specifics of the moment you are delivering the script. This minimal script will help you stay on topic, deliver all your key points, reduce your stress, and maintain your focus.
Practice makes permanent.
Having scripts written and in the file isn’t enough to develop focus and deliver leadership-level performance every time you open your mouth. You have to practice delivering the scripts with passion and purpose, and be able to deliver them with efficiency and effectiveness. To do that, you need to memorize them. Practice until you can recite your scripts, not 19 out of 20 times, but 20 out of 20 times. Don’t worry that the practice will make you sound like a robot. Once you have it memorized, you will start to sound natural, authentic, and passionate.
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