When you speak or present, it feels like you are giving a lot of energy. You feel passionate and enthusiastic. You believe that your audience can feel your passion, that it’s palpable. But it only feels like you are passionate. You’re not giving anywhere near the energy that you think you are. In fact, what feels like professional and confident is completely flat.
How do I know this?
Over the last couple months, I have video recorded a number of my speeches. I haven’t been permitted to record my keynotes, where it’s easier to bring the energy because the rooms are big and the audience is so distant. But I have recorded a number of workshops that I have given, and one speech at my beloved Toastmaster’s club, where they now record every speech.
To grow as a professional speaker, I have been taking acting classes. I have been recorded in every acting class. After the class, I watch the DVD to see what I can learn. Yes, it is painful. Yes, it is horrifying. Yes, it is so worth it. Yes, you learn much faster.
What you notice when you watch your recorded performance is that there is an enormous gap between your perception of the energy that you give off and the actual energy that your audience sees and feels. What feels like a lot of energy to you doesn’t even cause a blip on your audience’s radar. When you feel like you are really, really passionate it looks to your audience like you are about normal. When you feel like you are way out on the edge and can go no further, you look slightly animated. If you want to really give off energy, you have to be enormous.
This lesson isn’t only for speakers, presenters, and my dear friends in Toastmasters. There are lessons for salespeople.
Lessons for Salespeople
You believe that you are passionate. You believe you are enthusiastic in front of your clients. You believe you are an energetic salesperson. It’s likely that you’re not. It’s more likely that you are boring, unenergetic, and dispassionate. You energy probably isn’t even enough to move the needle. This is especially true when you are presenting.
If you make an intentional choice to be low-key, it’s fine. For some sales, calm and composed is a good choice.
I remember my first meeting with the two surgeons that did my brain surgery. One was calm, cold even, and completely composed. There was nothing that would have rattled him. He gave me tremendous confidence, so much so that I let him cut open my head and remove a piece of my brain. The second doctor was excited, excitable, and full of energy. His energy frightened me. I had to ask the first surgeon if he would let his energetic partner complete his part of the surgery were he in my situation. He said he would, and I did.
Most of us would perform better if we performed with more energy and passion. If you want to be perceived as enthusiastic, it probably requires that you deliver way more energy than you are presently.
All Hail the Brave Adventurers
When I first started in sales, my employer required me record a sales call with a live prospective client. First you had to ask for the commitment to present, and then you had to get the prospective client to commit to being on video with you. Yeah, that was easy. Fortunately I had a wonderful prospect, later a client, that agreed. It didn’t change the outcome; I was awful.
For those of you that are brave, video record yourself giving your sales presentation. You don’t have to video record a real sales presentation in front of a live client or prospect. Just pretend that you have a client in the room with you. Then, do the same presentation again and go someplace really uncomfortable. Really work to bring a lot of energy. Be as animated as you can imagine (and as animated as you bring yourself to be).
Then watch both videos. In the first video, notice your energy level. Are you giving off any energy at all? Are you boring? Are you even remotely close to animated? Then watch the second video. Is it better? Be honest, it’s so much better, isn’t it.
The video doesn’t lie. It shows you what your clients see. Now decide whether it needs to change, and work on bringing the passion when you need to. And you almost always need to bring more than you believe.
How do you want your clients to perceive you during sales calls and presentations?
Does what you sell require you to be calm and composed? Would being enthusiastic endanger your opportunity?
What kind of energy do you need to bring to be believed as caring?
What could you learn by watching yourself on video?
How do you bring the right energy?
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