Do you want to feel completely at ease and close every sale?
Mr. Chen, sales director for a multinational Hong based company, is very outgoing, energetic, intelligent, charming, fluent in both Chinese and English, and loves talking with people. He talked very fast, in both English and Chinese and his English pronunciation needed some improvement.
“When I present in English at a western sales conference or a multinational company, I want to feel completely at ease and close every sale,” he stated.
“Mr. Chen, whether you are speaking Chinese or English, if you expect your listeners to assimilate your meaning, you should be speaking at about 140 words per minute”.
“But they will get bored,” he replied, “and I will lose their attention.”
“ On the contrary, when you say your English words clearly it will slow your speech and help you to channel your wonderful energy toward engaging the audience—Say your words as clearly as possible and make doubly sure you say the ends of all your words.”
“When you speak fast, people have trouble concentrating, get frustrated and stop listening. They can even become slightly hostile, feel you are wasting their time or speaking down to them. By the time you are ready to close the deal, you may have lost their interest and enthusiasm.”
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While giving his speech to the workshop, he succeeded in pronouncing his words clearly, which helped him to slow down and made him much easier to understand. However, I was stunned to see this dynamic man stand completely still and read his speech from behind the podium.
“How did you feel?” I asked.
“I just don’t like talking so slow. It makes me feel self-conscious,” he said.
“Why? You are letting people really hear your message loud and clear. Why did you read your speech and never come out from behind the podium? I would have expected a man with your charisma to come forward and talk with the audience.”
He explained that standing behind a podium was the standard way of giving a speech in China and that when you take the time to think out what you want to say and choose the right words to say it, you are in control and sound more eloquent.
“Perhaps in formal situations,” I replied. “Do you always present with the slide show in the middle and you standing off to the side behind the podium?”
“From my experience in dealing with western sales audiences, I can say with great assurance that the client first decides on a gut level, whether you are sincere, honest, credible, and reliable and then listens to what you are saying. You need to get your client to trust you in a short time, to feel that you and your product are reliable and that you care about his needs. That is what closes the deal.”
“Selling requires you to get up close and personal with your audience, both physically and emotionally. You want your audience to have a very favorable gut response first to you and then to your words. Never forget, you are the message! The audience reacts first to the way you look and sound and then to your words”.
“I would like you to start again and take a risk. Memorize your opening talking points or use the bullets on your slides and come forward and talk with us in that dynamic manner I heard you using during the break, when you were talking with the executive next to you. Begin your speech and tell the audience how the outstanding characteristics of your product will benefit us. Make us envision it. If we can envision ourselves using your product, we are one step closer to buying it.”
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Because it can be both very exhilarating and a little threatening to talk with an audience without an intervening barrier, Mr. Chen started speaking fast again. However, he stopped and started again. This time all his attention was on engaging and persuading us. He slowed down, took charge of the audience, and had us in the palm of his hand.
The recognition of his newfound “speaker power” was evident on his face as he reiterated, “It is really important to come out from behind the podium and speak with the people.”
“Mr. Chen, with your charisma and your stories and anecdotes, if you stay close to the audience, you will close all your sales! I guarantee it.