They say (whoever “they” are) that the number one fear in the world is public speaking: more feared than death.
For me personally – and don’t shoot me – I can’t relate. As a pastor’s daughter, I’ve been on stages and platforms since before I could talk. Using my voice to convey messages that matter to me has been as instinctive as breathing. Regardless, though, I get that most people have not had the same upbringing and experiences as me and that speaking in front of groups can be intimidating. It might not be my personal experience, but I have helped many people find their voice and their message and become confident speakers and salespeople.
Here’s the thing, though. Whether you are in business for yourself or in the corporate world or a service job or managing your household, using your voice is the difference between moving forward and not moving. Which is moving backwards. There’s no way around it: you really have to use your voice.
The Good News
The good news is that you use your voice already. All the time. Yes, you do. You might use it in written form, in one-on-one conversations, in groups, in social settings, business settings, life-management settings or any number of ways and places. You do use your voice.
And more good news. With a little bit of work and intention, you can figure out how to use your voice to create wins for yourself through the art of persuasion. Now, a lot of people will stop right there because they catch on that word. Persuasion does not necessarily mean coercion or manipulation even though some people will use their persuasive powers for less than noble purposes. Persuasion simply means that you influence or sway others to believe or do something through a compelling presentation. Do you want your child to use the potty? Do you want your neighbour to stop blocking your driveway? Do you want a credit card charge reversed? A promotion? A raise? A donation? A sale? For people to believe in your cause? Then you will be using your powers of persuasion to achieve that goal.
4H Pitch Blocking
Being persuasive in order to create wins is really about compelling storytelling. And, while some people have more of a natural flair for telling a great story (cough *fishers* cough), anyone can craft a compelling story with my 4H framework.
Here are the four blocks of crafting a great persuasive presentation or pitch:
The very first thing you want to do is make a personal connection by touching someone’s heart of feelings. So, you start with a story. It might be your story or the story of the problem, but it’s important that it be a connection point. Being persuasive comes from being able to offer people a point of empathy – or at least sympathy.
Here’s a fictitious example: “When the pandemic hit, I lost my job as an HR professional. I didn’t know what I was going to do. It was a very difficult time and I wondered if anyone was going to be hiring with everything unstable and locked down. Since I was applying for a lot of jobs, I really began to notice a few things, like how many companies don’t know how to write a clear job ad, and how many job ads were posted on websites for a very, very long time. I wondered if this meant that people were not finding the people they needed for their positions.
“So I did some research and talked with several companies who had stale postings languishing on job sites, and I found both sides of the problem: job seekers were not applying for the right jobs, and prospective employers were not (for many reasons) finding the right people. A light bulb came on and I realized that my skills and experience could help solve this problem!”
See what happened there? The storyteller shared his/her personal story and gave you a sense of how he/she was feeling. We can all relate in one way or another. Our hearts go out to this person. Then, as the story progresses, our feeling change. We begin to get curious, as the storyteller drops hints of something he/she is discovering.
This is where you move from talking about the terrible problem to talking about your amazing solution. Side note: if you are bringing a problem to someone – say, the neighbour blocking your driveway – always have a solution you can share. This section is the “head” section because you are sharing information such as the features, advantages and benefits of your solution.
To continue with the story of the HR pro, here’s what this section might sound like: “In July of 2020, I started my Talent Match coaching and consulting business. I help job seekers get matched up to the right jobs by working with them on their resumes and interview skills and by connecting them to companies seeking help. I also coach employers and help them craft the right job ads and conduct good interviews so they can fill their positions effectively. I use a software program I developed to get people started and then move into personalized service. Since starting, I’ve helped dozens of people find the right job or employee. There’s not a jobs shortage; there’s just a disconnect! I create the connection points so employers can find the right people and workers can find the right job.”
Without going into all the technical details, the storyteller gave us as sense of what he/she does in the business, and the features, advantages, and benefits. The storyteller still kept it in the vein of telling a story, so the listener doesn’t lose the thread or lose interest.
This is the call to action. Whether you are looking to get someone’s email address, or a meeting, or a resolution to a problem, or a sale, this is the part where you do the ask.
Back to the story: “If you’ve been applying for jobs like crazy and are just not having any luck, I can help! Fill out the discovery questionnaire at mytalenmatch.com and I’ll follow up with you once I receive it.”
Doesn’t have to be long and detailed, and definitely doesn’t have to be pushy or manipulative. It’s just an invitation. The person on the receiving end always gets to choose whether to take action or not.
This section is also short – usually one sentence. It can be attached to the call to action. For instance, our storyteller could say, “Land your dream job now!” Or “Get the right people working for you!”
The point is to take people back into their emotional brain with a hopeful statement that gets them excited about the possibilities.
Try It – And Practice!
This framework really works. You can use it to craft your “pitch” for anything and everything. It can be done 30 seconds or 30 minutes, but it can’t be done without putting in some work and practicing. Write out your pitch and then practice it in the mirror. Then practice it in front of someone you trust to give you good and honest feedback. However, the best practice is doing this in real life. The 4H framework can help you have confidence in your message and using it over and over in presentations and conversation will only increase your confidence. The more you do it, the more polished and self-assured you will become.
As always, if you want help with your 4H pitch block and with using your voice to win, reach out to me and let’s talk. I can help you craft a compelling story to win at business and in life.
Until next time, stay on point!