The Missing Keys to Great Negotiation Skills

Would you agree that your success, in business and in life, is determined by your ability to successfully ask for, and get, what you want? It may have begun when you first asked for a cookie. Today, you may be asking for a $50,000 contract or a higher discount on supplies. The principles are the same. Yet I find people often miss the mark. Clients tell me that they fear negotiations will result in anger, so they never even ask for what they want. Or their negotiations bring about a stalemate. In every instance, we find that four specific keys are missing.

Good negotiation skills can actually increase your credibility, your communication and your business. These simple steps will make all the difference:

Begin with a clear understanding of what you want from the negotiation. Dig below the surface. If you are negotiating for a higher sale price or a discount, you could get stuck on a line item; instead, consider the total picture. What gets you the highest return? Are there tax considerations? Are there costs the other side could absorb? Are there other requests such as timing, financing or down payments to consider? Understand WHY you want what you say you want. Creativity could result in getting a vacation at the end of a conference – with your client picking up the travel cost to the event. Or you might take an equity interest in a company as part of your compensation for potential long-term return. When you recognize your short- and long-term objectives, you are in the best position to negotiate.

State your intention for a win-win negotiation up front. Remove any potential adversarial positioning by addressing it clearly. You might say, “I want to discuss some additional areas where I would like to see changes. My intention is that we reach an agreement that is unquestionably fair to both of us. Is that OK?” Get agreement for the discussion and the ground rules for openness and fairness before proceeding.

Ask questions to elicit the underlying needs of the other party. As you probably discovered in the first step, there may be many important points requiring discussion. If you were negotiating to purchase real estate, you might ask what the sellers intended to do with the money. Knowing whether they had already purchased another home, or whether they wanted ongoing cash flow from an investment, would dictate entirely different approaches to handling the transaction. Keep asking questions until you have a very good understanding of what will satisfy their needs. You are then ready for the next step.

Be flexible in meeting both parties’ needs while making small concessions. If you have done the first three steps, you now have a significant list of possibilities…and it is time to be creative. Do you have services or connections that would assist the other party? Can you offer discounts or timing flexibility? Be prepared to expand beyond your original request. Make small concessions one at a time in order to keep the conversation moving forward. Never give your final offer until you have already conceded many small points. Why? If you give a final offer without first realizing that you are giving something valuable, you may reach an early impasse. And it is entirely possible that by using this method, you will reach an agreement far more favorable to you than you originally imagined – while also satisfying the other party.

By following the four keys above, you will enjoy significantly greater success in negotiations. However, if either party is doing one of the following, the negotiation has little chance to succeed.

FATAL APPROACHES IN NEGOTIATION

Fixating on the impossible. There are times that a past event becomes an issue. Perhaps a deadline has passed, or an event was ruined. In a recent negotiation, the mother of the bride repeated the statement that her daughter was crying on her wedding day. It is important to acknowledge that YOU CAN’T CHANGE THE PAST. The point of negotiation is to agree to something that is in the present and carries forward. Both parties must agree to consider only the options available at this point. Fixation on the past can be a no-win tactic because it puts greater emphasis on the currency of emotion.

Negotiating for power or pain. In divorces or other emotionally charged situations, there is often little possibility of a win-win outcome, because one or both parties care only about bringing pain to the other side. Money is simply a vehicle for distributing the hurt – and as a result, no one can really win. If you find yourself in this situation, go back to step one. Get to the bottom of what you really want and encourage the other party to do the same.

Mastering these principles requires great introspection, listening skills and clear communication. But they can make you a skilled negotiator. Not only that, skilled negotiations can increase the confidence that people place in you.

Ready, set…negotiate!

Presenting With Power While Being Seated

Presenting can be done in various ways. Most of the time speakers stand in front of an audience at an event in a convention center, facing a group of clients at their company’s conference room or addressing a crowd at their community center to give a few examples. The tools that we have at hand to improve our presentation skills normally focus on these situations. What if you have to present while being seated? This can happen at a small meeting e.g. delivering the quarterly results to your board members, having a sales meeting with one potential client, addressing a small interest group or perhaps your health or physical condition prevents you from standing. Check out the following tips to make an impact when you and your audience are seated.

1. Positioning yourself at the table

When you sit at a table (for instance to make a presentation to your board members), the upper part of the body is visible only. Realize that if you are a tall person that you loose the impact of your length. How can you compensate that?

- If possible sit at the head of the table to increase your visibility.

- Make visible eye contact with everyone around the table, let every single person in the room know that you see them. Call them by their names if appropriate during the meeting to strengthen the connection.

- Sit up straight, keep your back in a comfortable yet upright position.

- Keep your head up and avoid looking at the table.

- Focus on your breath, breathe slowly and deep in your belly. Imagine that the air is going through your body, down your belly, down your legs and feet into the floor. This will relax you and give you clarity of mind.

- Focus on your feet and make a conscious connection with the floor, this will ground you. Keep your legs next to each other and notice how solid this will make you feel. It will add power to your speech.

- Put your arms on the table to increase the solid position. You can leave your hands with the palms on the table or folded over each other, avoid the ‘prayer’ position (clasping your hands) or folding your fore arms as it will block your open position. It is OK if you alternate between all of these.

- Use your head, arms and hands to make gestures that support your speech.

- When you like to sit back in your chair, try not to appear too comfortable: don’t sag, keep your back as straight as possible, put your arms on the arm rests or relaxed in your lap if the chair has no arm rests. Relax but show that you are alert.

- Your emotions will be picked up easily when people are sitting close. Use your facial expressions adequately: smile and express your enthusiasm. Be sincere and do not hide your feelings but balance the way you express them because they will have a larger impact then addressing a huge room full of people.

2. Focusing on your voice

When you present ‘up-close and personal’ in a small group at the table, you need to be aware that your voice has a huge impact. You will most likely speak without a microphone and sometimes without visual aids so you need to pay special attention that you will be heard and your audience can follow you:

- Speak slowly but not too slow.

- Speak clearly but not too loud.

- Articulate well and use tone variations.

- Pause and renew eye contact.

- Breathe into your belly to relax yourself and support your voice

- Use the right words e.g. include metaphors and describe images that people can relate to. This will support the audience to follow your story.

3. The use of visual aids

When you deliver a presentation at a table you can use visual aids to add structure and focus to your speech. Pay attention to the following:

- If you use a laptop: make sure you don’t hide behind it, it should not block your upper body.

- Put some key points on a flip chart or white board and stand up now and then to address the key messages or to point where you are in your story. This will make the presentation more lively.

- When you don’t use a flip chart or white board, you can use notes or distribute your presentation as a supplement to the agenda. Stay aware that people might be distracted by these papers. They will read them, check them to follow your line of thought. Don’t look at the papers too much yourself, you will loose eye contact. A pause in your speech will usually draw them back to you.

- When you use PowerPoint slides on a screen then you should stand to create a connection with the audience and not sit down while everyone is facing the screen. A connection is made with people not slides. If you can’t stand, sit next to the screen to make yourself visible.

Next time when you have a meeting or presentation use a few of these suggestions and when people take their seats you know that you will have an impact even if you are not the ‘chair’!

Public Speaking – When You Use This Talk Template, Your Presentation Will Practically Give Itself!

To have a presentation that’s easy to follow and easy to understand-which should be any speaker’s objective-there needs to be a clear sense of organization. The beauty of a well-organized talk is it not only helps the audience follow along and stay with you, but it also helps you stay on track and not lose your train of thought.

The simplest, yet most powerful, tool for organizing and delivering your thoughts logically and coherently is the “talk template.”

Here’s an outline and explanation of the elements of the template. Note it’s divided into three parts. But it’s not three equal parts. Like the famous sandwich of the comic strip character Dagwood, all the meat is in the middle. The intro and conclusion serve to hold it all together, to add a little flavor and interest, but the body is the meat of your talk-it’s what you’ve got to say.

I. INTRODUCTION: The introduction sets the stage, establishes your credibility, gets your momentum going, and makes the audience want to listen to you. Two components:

A.    Hook: get the audience’s attention. Reel ‘em in. A great hook will make the audience take notice and want to listen to you. Possible hooks include: an anecdote, story, prop or visual, question, quotation, startling statement.

B.     Reason to Listen: Tell the audience how they’ll benefit from your talk. How will it will make them happier, safer, more successful, make their jobs easier, make their wallets thicker?

II.             BODY: This is the meat of your talk. Here is where you present your main ideas in a logical order and explain and elaborate on each point as much as your time limit allows. It’s composed of:

A.    Road Map: Just as a map on a road trip helps you know where you’re going, a road map for your talk lets the audience know where you’re going to take them. It makes it easier for them to follow along. This is the same thing as the classic speech adage, “Tell ‘em what you’re going to tell ‘em.”

B.     Main Points: Identify your main ideas-usually about three to five-and chose the most logical way to order them.

  • Topical-your main points are arranged by particular topics.
  • Chronological-your main points follow a natural sequential flow, such explaining a recipe.
  • Spatial-your points are arranged according to geography, such as reports about the North, South, East and West divisions; or a description of a room, a building, a city.
  • Problem-Solution-you explain the problem you encountered, then describe how you solved (or propose to solve) it.

III.    CONCLUSION: The ending of your talk is important because it’s your last chance to make a good impression. To be effective, it should have two elements, plus note how the Q&A is inserted:

  1. Summary: bring it all home, wrap it all up, deliver one final gem that embodies the essence of what you’ve said.
  2. Q&A. In order preserve the impact of your close, consider opening the floor for questions before you deliver your closing. After your Q&A session, you deliver your closing statement.
  3. Closing: bring the talk to a definitive and memorable end. You can use the same tools in closing as in your hook: an anecdote, story, prop or visual, quotation.

A final thought about your template. Don’t write it out word for word. Instead, outline it with key words and bullet points-enough to keep you on track, but not so much that you feel the need to read them. This will enable you to be conversational and natural, a great attribute of a compelling speaker.