Do you remember the Prisoner? The imaginative 1960s television series set in a nightmare village (in fact it was Portmeirion in Wales), where Patrick McGoohan could not escape. Here’s a brief clip from the series where he famously exclaims “I am not a number I am a free man!” McGoohan’s character was number 1, he kept, and we kept asking “who was number 1?” In a later interview, he said here in this clip, that he as a Producer, and creator of the series, suggested we are all number 1. I like this. Not just because I was a fan of the series and it’s fun. But because it’s a good philosophy for life. Does that sound a recipe for selfishness? It could be. And could be thought counter to a recent blog I wrote on Understanding people better (to focus on “you”) where I stressed the benefit of finding out about people through engagement. The point is, you are number 1, with your own stories, views, ideas and rights which you need self-confidence and skills to share. Do you? Do people misunderstand you? Do they understand your ideas, your business proposals, pitches and suggestions? People can misunderstand you, your ideas, business proposals, pitches or half listen and twist your ideas to suit themselves. Put themselves as number 1 and you as number 6! Tell a good story, you can then better stand up for yourself.
Do you ever start to share an idea with someone and find some of these issues?
- They listen to the topic or words you have said, interrupt, or even if they allow you to finish did not understand. Proven by how they might agree but steer the conversation in a completely different direction.
- They give you few seconds before losing eye contact – perhaps looking at their phone.
- Their glazed look shows complete disinterest!
Try, asking them,
- Did you understand what I just said?
- Ask another follow-up question if they did not understand you.
- Perhaps suggest, “let me just clarify what I meant”, (explain), then check for understanding
Selfish Listeners – it’s about them
Hands-up, this was me. Steve Barker, my long-time HR guru and leadership coaching colleague pulled me up on this a few years ago. “Peter, this is about me not you….now listen…” It was a fierce conversation but a great one. He knew I had a habit at the time, driven by enthusiasm to share my mirrored experiences. But that got in the way of listening. I did not mean to be selfish. I thought I was empathising. I needed to shut-up and listen. How often do you overhear a conversation which is just an information dump between two or more people? Surely it’s better to recognise the speaker is “number 1”, better to be a noisy listener, ask questions to clarify our understanding. Can we help that person?
Your Pitch or Presentation is not Understood
For whatever reason, your fantastic idea, service, perhaps a fantastic new invention or product, when presented to the customer or investor, falls on deaf ears. As an ex-salesman, pitcher, product manager and now someone who sees many pitches, I have some very clear thoughts on this. Let me suggest some key problems:
- Simply the presenter is unclear what on earth it is they are selling. Be very clear, in words and pictures, explaining what it is you have, what it does and for whom.
- What are your Unique Selling Points your USPs
- Is it better, cheaper or different – or a mix of these?
At Dorset Business Angels we have a page which gives help on this, see here. Be clear about your story, you can then better stand up for yourself.
You feel excluded in a group or meeting
It can also happens in meetings. There was a good article by Luke Johnson, the entrepreneur and Venture Capitalist, in the Sunday Times, making the point that the noisiest people in a pitch presentation meeting are not necessarily the most important. I think the trick here (he was talking about pitching for funding), where I have specific experience, is to do research before meetings and ask questions, as far as you can, at meetings. In a Board of Business Meeting similarly, doing your homework beforehand helps enormously. A good chairman should allow everybody to speak, and you will be there for a good reason, you have skills and knowledge other people want to benefit from. This leads onto a point I raise in my next section.
At networking events again its worth doing research beforehand, using questions and listening during the event and have confidence in your own capability supported by a few support tools:
- Know your elevator pitch – how to do your elevator pitch i.e. in few words what your business is about, your USPs and why you?
- Business cards
- Ideally information on a website or online site e.g. Facebook site
People can misunderstand you, your ideas, business proposals, pitches or half listen and twist your ideas to suit themselves. Put themselves as number 1 and you as number 6! Tell a good story, you can then better stand up for yourself.
Peter Eales BA Hons Chartered Marketer FCIM FIDM
Founder Director Dorset Business Angels
MD o i solutions limited