Effective persuasion is indeed an art – it encourages someone to take an action that is at once in their best interest and also beneficial to the persuader. Thus, it is a win-win for both parties. Gifted politicians, business leaders, and salespeople have mastered the art of persuasion, as – without this skill – they most likely would not have achieved success.
Working Remotely is Not New
COVID-19 and social distancing guidelines have forced many people to work remotely. In fact, during a three-week period beginning in April 2020, the percentage of employees working from home increased from 31 percent to 62 percent.
However, telecommuting is not new. Prior to the COVID-19 shelter-in-place mandates, remote work had already become more mainstream, growing 173 percent since 2005.
Technology has kept pace with the need for remote work capabilities – enabling multi-participant meetings, virtual presentations, and chat applications that have (at least for the time being) replaced watercooler camaraderie.
While remote work is a paradigm shift for many employees, the need to reach and influence potential customers remains as important as ever. Luckily, employees merely need to make a few adjustments to be effective remote communicators.
Homework is Important
Regardless of the method used to conduct a meeting or presentation, preparation is critical. Learn as much as possible about the decision maker(s) and what motivates them, as well as some personal triggers. Homework should include researching and understanding the prospect’s goals, objectives, and how current industry conditions may impact those goals.
Explain how your product or service offering will provide a positive impact on sales or other key performance indicators (KPI). Make sure to demonstrate that you grasp the demography of the prospect’s customers as well as the current state of their competition.
When presenting to homeowners, understand the value of their home and what a renovation may mean to them. Although not called KPIs or goals, homeowners will expect a return on their investment just as a businessperson would.
Let Technology Work for You
The current pandemic situation has forced businesses and individuals to adapt very quickly to new working environments and technology. Fortunately, technology was ready for the challenge.
Social distancing is the new normal (at least for the near-term), but that does not mean personal connections cannot be made and maintained. There is an abundance of affordable video meeting apps like Zoom that enable virtual “face-to-face” interactions. The ability for a prospective customer to see presenters will help to generate trust and familiarity.
It is also essential to take full advantage of the presentation capabilities that most video conferencing applications offer. Use this as an opportunity to tell a persuasive story to your audience and establish an additional point of connection.
Seasoned presenters can bring enough energy to a room to easily captivate an in-person audience with little-to-no visual aids. When presenting remotely, the use of visually-engaging graphics, along with video and audio (music or sound effects), can convey energy and help hold attention.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Once the homework and presentation are completed, it is time to practice. Regardless of what method is used to deliver a presentation, get familiar and comfortable with the materials – if co-presenting, know what section each presenter will cover to ensure smooth handoffs. Have multiple rehearsals until the delivery flows naturally and any technical glitches have been corrected.
Keep in mind that, when presenting remotely, a bit more practice will be necessary. Body language and tonality are a large part of communication and persuasion. When communicating through a computer screen, however, it may be challenging to project confident body language and personal style.
Consider recording yourself and reviewing the recording to see how you look and sound on camera. Pay attention to small details – for example, ensure your attire is not distracting. Also, check that the background behind you is neutral and uncluttered so that attendees remain focused on you.
If possible, set up your work area in a separate room to avoid household distractions. If a spare room is not available, find a discreet corner, and erect a privacy screen. Although a privacy screen may not be soundproof, it will establish a physical boundary to help remind family members you are working.
When it is time to make your presentation, let household members know to avoid your work-area while keeping as quiet as possible. It may also be a good idea to place pets in another room or outside.
Despite best efforts to isolate your remote office, interruptions may still occur. With so many now working from home, it is fair to assume your audience will be understanding of a small disruption. Should an adorable child or pet break past the privacy screen, quickly correct the situation, apologize, and get back to presenting.
Paint a Memorable Picture of Persuasion
While this new tactic of remote communicating may seem intimidating, it does not have to be. Many professionals have mastered the art of persuasion and will be able to share memorable and compelling stories when presenting remotely. Even those employees who aren’t as comfortable presenting can improve their skills by following the tips above.
Continue to follow your instincts, and – with a small investment in technology and some practice – deals will close, virtually.