When someone responds to you with that word, how do you feel?
Neutral, depending on the context?
Saying “no” to someone or to doing something is not bad at all, especially if it’s done in the right context.
Even in conducting presentations, it’s important for a speaker to learn when to politely decline an invitation if he or she thinks a presentation is not needed or appropriate at the moment.
Winston Churchill, the Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, once said in his speech:
“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit
down and listen.”
Just because you’re already a veteran speaker, it doesn’t mean that you’ll have to do the talking and presenting ALL THE TIME.
Different situations call for different measures and responses as well.
Think about it from a business perspective: If you’re a salesperson and you’re meeting a client for the first time, how much speaking should you be doing?
90% of the time?
70% of the time?
50% of the time?
According to Professor Joel Litman, CEO and President of Valens Research, as a speaker or salesperson, oftentimes you’ll be asked to do presentations. However, if you analyze what the reasons, intentions, and goals are, in some instances you’ll realize that the way to achieve it is not through a presentation.
Usually in the business or marketing setup, the first meeting with a client is not really a sales presentation; rather, an interview or phone call.
It’s not until the third or fourth meeting with a client that you can call it a sales presentation.
Why is this so?
It’s because before you present your ideas or conduct product demonstrations to your clients, you first have to know their background and what they need or want.
How can you present your best ideas if you don’t know what motivates your clients, what their needs are, and what they are looking for?
Even in other types of presentations―forums, lectures, or seminars―you have to at least conduct a simple background check of who your audience is, their age range, their professions, etc.
That way, it’ll be easier for you to present in a way that appeals to your audience’s interest.
Another reason why you have to learn to politely say “no” to conducting presentations when you need to (in the business and marketing setup) is that everyone has different needs and demands.
Even similar companies don’t have the same set of needs.
Presentations, therefore, cannot always address all those needs or fill those gaps. It is not always the wisest choice nor is it the only way to get your message across.
If you’re being asked to present but you don’t think a presentation is the best way to move forward in a particular situation, you can politely decline. Explain why it’s not suitable at the moment and provide alternatives that you think could yield better results.
That way, you utilize your time, effort, energy, as well as other company resources wisely.
Here are some alternatives that you can do instead:
- Phone calls
- Sales interviews
- Whiteboard/Whitepaper sessions
One advantage these alternatives have is INTERACTION with your clients or the people you’re doing business with.
More than just conducting sales presentations, which often build mere “acquaintances” and small talks, these alternatives can help you build rapport and deeper connections with your clients.
Since these things are done one-on-one or in a smaller group, your clients will be more comfortable in sharing their ideas and opinions with you.
Once they start to ask questions and take the initiative to discuss concepts, ideas, and agreements with you, that’s how you know they’re hooked and interested.
When you’ve reached this stage and have the information you need about their needs and wants, that’s when you’ll know that they’re ready to hear a formal standard sales presentation from you.
Say “no” (to unplanned presentations) for a better “yes” (from your clients)!
By saying “no,” you prevent yourself from getting frustrated and stressed for not getting the results you wanted out of your presentation.
You will utilize your resources well and increase the likelihood of clients getting interested in what you have to offer.
You and your clients are given the opportunity to say “yes” to the more important things―better communication, business deals, agreements, etc.
As stated by Patti Breitman and Connie Hatch in their book titled, “How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty,”
“Out of guilt or fear of confrontation, we take on more projects, invest in someone else’s
priorities… In the process, we dissipate our most valuable personal resources―time,
energy, and money―on things that aren’t important to us. Each time we agree to
something without enthusiasm for interest, we waste a little more of these precious
Don’t be afraid to choose to sit back and listen instead of always doing the standing and the talking. As a presenter, salesperson, businessman, or marketer, you have to accept that a formal presentation isn’t always the best tool to deliver your message.
The next time someone asks you to deliver a presentation, analyze the situation and think if there is a more appropriate course of action―phone calls, interviews, whiteboard sessions, Q&As, and others.
About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Wednesdays: Speak on the Shoulders of Giants”
In a meeting with one person
…a boardroom with five people
…or a huge venue with hundreds of people
—whatever the situation or setting, it’s very important to learn and eventually master the art of public speaking.
No matter what, you always need to effectively get your message across.
What good is a presentation with awesome content if you don’t deliver it properly?
Every Wednesday, we publish different tips, insights, and secrets on how you can improve your presentation skills to captivate your audience and lead interesting discussions.
The need for great presentation skills applies EVERYWHERE.
(Small meetings with your team, big meetings with your boss, an important marketing pitch, speaking engagements for events with a big audience, etc.)
Learning these skills is not just for the corporate world. Being in other industries such as the Arts, Information Technology, Medicine, and Education while knowing how to present well will definitely give you an edge.
Have that advantage.
Hope you’ve found this week’s public speaking tip interesting and helpful.
Stay tuned for next Wednesday’s Speak on the Shoulders of Giants!
Head of Marketing
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
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