WHAT WOMAN WANT

WOMEN AND THE HOME

In recent years, oversized houses (that are sometimes referred to as “McMansions”) have enjoyed great popularity. Yet, Underhill believes that these houses appeal more to men’s sensibilities than to women’s. Data suggests that empty nesters want to downsize, and houses which suit nontraditional families sell at a premium. Home buyers do not mind sacrificing space in exchange for homes that have features they will really use. For example, home offices, home exercise rooms, or standalone apartments for elderly parents or adult children are all growing in popularity.

Kennecott Land, a real estate development group, created a market advisory board comprised of only women. This group largely advocated for kitchens that incorporate the children. A kitchen of this type would have multi-level counters and open out onto a play area. Another concept that the group recommended was a “family bathroom”–that is, a pair of side by side bathrooms with a door in between. This configuration would work well for parents who need to supervise young children, but still want some privacy.

Another appealing concept for women is “New Urbanist Communities” like Seaside, Florida. These towns are a blend of city and suburb where residents are always looking out for one another. The communities are structured in a way that people can walk to do their shopping. Underhill notes, however, that New Urbanist Communities are not for everyone due to the uniform housing styles and structures related to community living.

The Kitchen

Over time, the role and design of the kitchen has changed significantly. Before the Civil War, it was known primarily the woman’s “work room.” In the Victorian era, new kitchen technologies were invented, and as the years rolled on, architects began to construct kitchens directly around appliances. As women returned to the workplace in the 1970s and 1980s, however, they no longer wanted the kitchen to be a separate, isolated room from the rest of the house, and it began to become more integrated.

Today, Underhill describes the kitchen as the social center of the home. Since open plan kitchens blend with other rooms, kitchen appliances are being designed to be more attractive and unobtrusive. High end homes often have “mega-kitchens” with dedicated zones for different tasks and professional grade appliances. Underhill notes that if the kitchen is the woman’s domain, then men have embraced the sophisticated backyard barbecue as a place to use powerful gas grills and other gadgets.

The Bathroom

Like the kitchen, bathrooms have also been transformed over time. In the past, the bathroom was a room that no women wanted to be seen visiting. Today, the bathroom is a refuge for overworked women. Underhill describes modern bathrooms as a place characterized by hedonism, luxury, fantasy, and self-regard. He believes that bathrooms reflect comfort for a woman, as well as how highly she thinks of herself. Both kitchens and bathrooms are a status symbol for today’s modern woman. In terms of features and functionality, the minimum for a high-end bathroom is a spa tub. Adequate storage in the bathroom is another feature that women prize highly.

The Home Office

When Underhill was young, home offices were cluttered rooms that parents used as in-house getaways. Home offices today are still popular–a 2005 survey by the American Institute of Architects found that home offices were the most requested feature in home design projects. However, they look very different from the home offices of the past. A home office today is very welcoming and for women it represents a way to blend the external and domestic worlds. In fact, the dominant influence of contemporary home office culture is women.

In a home office, mothers and children work side by side on their laptops. This enables women to ensure that children are doing their homework and using the Internet appropriately. The all-in-one printer is a major time saver for women, enabling them to print, scan, copy, and fax materials for every member of the family.

Two essential technologies for the home office are wireless Internet and wireless Bluetooth. Thanks to the Internet, a woman can research purchases online from the comfort of her home office and then drive to the nearest store to make the purchase or buy online. Underhill also describes the Internet as a source of “secondary shopping therapy.” It is possible for women to window shop online and view the latest fashion in cities all over the world. He goes on to suggest that there are certain characteristics that make a website more appealing to women. These include providing entertainment value, creating a welcoming environment, and not requiring users to enter too much personal information. Office product superstores are the example that Underhill gives for an industry that has mastered female unfriendly websites. These are sites that definitely should not be emulated by companies who want to attract more women shoppers.

Home Exercise and Wellness Rooms

Although women use public gyms extensively, these venues are often visually, emotionally, and physically over-stimulating. Many women prefer a dedicated room in their home for exercise and wellness activities. Underhill believes that for women home gyms equate to being in control, while also doing something good for themselves. In addition to traditional exercise equipment, many home gyms have an area devoted to more contemplative activities that appeal to women, such as yoga or Pilates. Benefits of a home gym include no membership fee, no crowds, no discomfort from other people watching, and the flexibility to engage in routines that are as long as one likes. “In-home” personal trainers are also appealing to women because they focus on fostering a person relationship.

In reality, however, not everyone has the space for a home gym. Fortunately, more public athletic clubs are focusing on women’s needs. One example is the Curves chain which offers a “women only” gym experience. Many gyms have expanded their offerings to include yoga and Pilates classes, rock climbing, massage therapists, and cafes.

Home Maintenance

Household help is very common in other countries, especially emerging markets. However, in the United States, most people do their own housework. In fact, home maintenance is an area where women are playing a much larger role. Underhill describes women who undertake maintenance and home improvement projects as “tool belt divas.” A tool belt diva in her forties may have been required as a child to assist her single mother with maintenance tasks, or perhaps she simply has an interest in understanding how things work. Over the years, as women gained independence and went to work, many shared apartments with other women or lived on their own. Since these women did not want to rely on men for help and they were often on a budget, they became involved with maintenance tasks.

Television shows have educated women about home improvement projects, and websites like BeJane.com target female do-it-yourselfers. Most women who embrace home maintenance work will only hire a professional if the job requires too much physical strength or if the costs of the necessary tools are excessive. It is estimated that women spend approximately $50 billion on home improvement products annually. Underhill notes that in many cases, men appreciate the efforts of tool belt divas and are not at all resentful of their entrance into the traditionally male world of home improvement and maintenance.

WOMEN AND TRAVEL

Women travelers are very particular about hotel rooms. They notice the cleanliness, lighting, temperature, color, flooring, size or firmness of the pillows, and whether or not they feel safe. Underhill believes that every major hotel chain has revamped its properties and service to accommodate the needs of single female travelers.

For example, most lobby check-in counters now have a raised ledge below the actual counter which is ideal for resting a purse or briefcase. In addition, it has become standard practice for the clerk to write the room number inside a folded envelope which contains the key. This ensures privacy and helps guests feel more secure.

Underhill interviewed Pam Dillon, a professional and frequent traveler, to gather her insights about hotels and how they can be made more appealing to women. In addition to the room being clean, she made the following observations:

* For men, the gender of bellhops and room service staff is a non-issue. However, Dillon believes that many women would be more comfortable if they could interact with a female bellhop and/or room service clerk.

* Pillows and furniture are important. If a hotel can meet a female traveler’s pillow needs, it will go a long way toward promoting loyalty. Also, furniture and fixtures should be no more than two to three years old.

* It is also important to women to have the ability to adjust the temperature. This should be easy to control.

* For many women, the bathroom can make or break a stay. Warm efficient lighting is essential and some women are particular about the amenities, like soap and shampoo. Bowed shower curtains are a female friendly feature which makes the shower less claustrophobic and prevents physical contact with the shower curtain.

Dillon noted that her ideal hotel room would be customized to her, in terms of pillows, soft linens, and soft towels. The hotel would ideally know her preferences, but she would not want to feel that she has been invaded to get that information.

WOMEN AND ELECTRONICS PURCHASES

Even though almost half of U.S. electronics purchases are made by women, female buyers tend to avoid big box electronics stores. These retailers are perceived as having too many things to select from and not enough personalized service. Instead, women tend to purchase electronics online. Underhill’s research has found a clear correlation between the success of a store and the number of female employees working on the floor. Women tend to trust other women more and when buying electronics, female consumers are turned off by male employees who treat them in a condescending way.

Underhill visited a Best Buy store to evaluate whether the retailer was configured in a female friendly way. He found that a woman store manager and the inclusion of women in the store advertising added a sense of intimacy to the store environment. Most women buy technology and consumer electronics as tools to facilitate relationships and their day-to-day lives, not to accumulate “cool gadgets.” Underhill states that “men buy instruments of technology, while women buy instruments of relationship.” A proven way to sell to women is to create a ready built picture that both display products and engage the imaginations about what is possible. However, the Best Buy store had very few of these types of displays. In the laptop product category, women often make their purchase decision based on how much the computer weighs. Yet, the store had no signs to indicate which laptop was the lightest model. At the checkout line, there was no sign that informed shoppers that employees would help them get heavy items loaded into their cars. This service would be very welcome by women. Best Buy’s installation team–the Geek Squad–is comprised of mostly men. This service might be more appealing to women if there were more female “geeks” on the team. On the positive side, Underhill found the women’s restroom to be clean, bright, and marbled.

WOMEN AND “VICES”

As with the economy in general, women have significant economic power in product categories that are often considered “vices”–gambling, smoking, and alcohol.

* Gambling. Until the late 1980s, casinos viewed slot machines as a way to keep women occupied while men played at the gambling tables. However, the gaming industry quickly realized that they were earning more income from slot machines than table games. In addition, they were making more money from women than men. Women are the primary gamblers at slot machines and efforts have been made to make them more appealing to this demographic group. Slot machines have been themed to evoke memories of childhood television programs, multiple play features let people make more than one bet at a time, and penny machines that demand greater concentration are especially popular with women. Many casinos have also introduced loyalty cards to track customer winnings and often in casino hotel rooms, a woman will be on the television explaining the rules of every casino game.

* Weight Loss and Smoking. Many women have a conflicted relationship with food. Every day, Americans spend $109 million on average on dieting and diet-related products. While men are more likely to diet for health reasons, women diet in response to social pressures. Women make a clear connection between cigarettes and weight loss. Most cigarettes targeted at female customers are long, thin, and tubular. From a retail perspective, convenience stores are the most popular places to buy cigarettes, followed by drugstores. Underhill notes that the stores that carry cigarettes are geared heavily to their communities. In blue collar communities, the percentage of smokers is much higher than in high end neighborhoods. In addition to helping with weight loss, the author adds that smoking is seen as a way to punctuate time and an excuse for taking a break.

* Alcohol. According to the author, in the liquor industry, marketers focus on three factors to appeal to women customers: light, bright, and white. In the case of alcohol, this translates into white wine, light beer, and any product that is luminous, sparkly, or colorful. White wine sales, in particular, have increased significantly among female consumers. Many wine producers have created what they believe are female friendly labels that are often pink and overly cute. A better approach would be to consider what criteria women bring to wine selection. With regard to beer, most women buy beer for social gatherings. Yet, beer manufacturers and marketers have never positioned beer as the drink of choice for social gatherings that center around a meal. This is a missed opportunity according to Underhill.

WOMEN AND SHOPPING

The retail world is very familiar to women, but there is much more that retailers can do to attract female shoppers. Underhill analyzes women’s preferences related to clothing, shopping malls, food shopping, drugstores, and cosmetics.

Clothing Stores

Department store shopping has slowed significantly over time. This is due partially to the fact that women simply do not have three to four hours to shop. In addition, most department stores are divided into small branded “fiefdoms.” This is not consistent with how women shop. The typical female consumer does not identify with a single designer.

As a result, it is not surprising that specialty stores are overtaking department stores. They are smaller, more focused, have better trained employees, and better dressing rooms. Although department stores will not disappear in the twenty-first century, Underhill predicts that there will be fewer of them in the future.

Another benefit of specialty stores is their ability to serve a particular demographic. Banana Republic, for example, split its stores by gender and has outperformed Gap. Women over fifty are a customer group that is almost completely overlooked by clothing retailers, yet this group controls a large amount of income. In general, consumers want value, price, and convenience, but value is by far the most important factor.

Shopping Malls

Modern shopping malls must provide a more comprehensive experience and shopping solution to customers. One example of a mall that is driven by female consumer preferences is The Grove in Los Angeles. The Grove duplicates an ideal urban experience, where various ethnicities mingle in a secure environment. It offers a lawn, farmers’ market, and a streetcar. Underhill believes that The Grove offers what contemporary women want from a mall–a safe form of escape.

The modern mall must evolve into a place where women can do all sorts of errands, ranging from getting a key made or shoes repaired to dropping off dry cleaning and picking up dinner. Malls must be integrated into the fiber of daily life. Underhill believes that adding food, groceries, drugstores and more to a mall makes it more of a center and will keep female shoppers there longer. He sees no reason why Target, Whole Foods, and Neiman Marcus cannot co-exist within the same mall complex.

Retail must follow housing trends. It is not surprising then that urban retailing has been enjoying a resurgence, as people move back into cities like New York and Chicago. At a tactical level, modern malls should follow Underhill’s checklist, which includes clean dressing rooms with ample space and flattering lighting, and a place for men to sit comfortably while their wives, significant others, or daughters shop.

Food and Farmers’ Markets

Women have contributed significantly to the popularity of farmers’ markets. Within the world of agriculture, women are playing a major role. Underhill believes one reason that small scale production and processing of food has traditionally been a female world is because many women love to garden.

The farmers’ market movement has improved the quality of life in many neighborhoods and consumers have discovered how enjoyable it is to buy directly from the source. Farmers’ markets are actively striving to expand their appeal to a broader range of customers. One important step in this process is to bring in vendors who resemble the customers that the market hopes to attract.

On a larger scale, Whole Foods has done a great job of offering a convenient shopping solution to people who want organic and healthful foods. The chain manages the customer experience well, and the overall operating culture is friendly. Whole Foods has become a facilitator for people who want to live a more balanced lifestyle.

Drugstores

Women comprise over 60 percent of drugstores’ customers. Since drugstores’ target customer group is women over the age of forty, stores tend to be structured around this segment’s needs and interests. With the advent of pharmacies in supermarkets and superstores, drugstores are finding that less of their revenue is generated from prescription drug sales. Yet, the pharmacy still drives around 30 percent of drugstore traffic. This results in an interesting dynamic for drugstores. On one hand, capitalizing on prescription drug sales is important and the sales process is becoming more female dominated. Over the past ten years, the number of women pharmacists has grown and now almost 65 percent of pharmacists are female. Pharmacists are one of the only healthcare professionals that an American can consult without making an appointment or paying a fee. Pharmacists are also perceived as being more neutral about drugs than doctors who may be influenced by big pharmaceutical companies.

On the other hand, drugstores are also striving to find new ways to make up for prescription drug income that has been lost to superstores. Home healthcare is one of the fastest growing drugstore product segments, especially among women who are responsible for caring for elderly parents. Another growth area is vitamins and supplements. In addition, many drugstores now offer single serving portions of food. These products are in high demand by singles and the elderly. They also appeal to women shoppers who do not like to frequent convenience stores. Underhill views drugstores as one of the unusual retail businesses that cater to women of every age.

Cosmetics

Cosmetics are sold primarily through three major channels–mass market outlets such as drugstores, prestige channels such as department stores, and standalone beauty stores.

* Mass channels. Self-service cosmetic sales in a drugstore setting are liberating for women because the pricing is transparent. However, this sales model also has its disadvantages. Store managers dislike the cosmetics section because it is labor intensive, prone to shoplifters, and hard to keep clean. There are also space issues. With limited shelf space available for products, drugstores have typically banished mirrors from their cosmetic aisles. Underhill believes that cosmetic sales in mass channels result in frustration for business owners and consumers alike.

* Prestige channels. Many women find cosmetic shopping in department stores intimidating. The prices are hidden and salespeople can also be very pressure-oriented with products. Most prestige cosmetic brands have taken steps to be more “customer friendly.” Another issue with selling cosmetics in department stores is the fact that the customer base is aging. Young women are less inclined to buy makeup at a store that they feel is “unhip.”

* Standalone beauty stores. At branded stores, prestige cosmetic brands have control over the selling environment. Sephora, for example, has reinvented the traditional dynamic between customers and salespeople. It invented the “open sell” where pricing is transparent, selling is collaborative, and all the products are on display.

WOMEN AND HAIR

A woman’s hair is both a fashion statement and an extension of herself. Beauty salons offer many services beyond hair care, including nail and body treatments, tanning and massage, and beauty products. The combination salon-day spa is one of the fastest growing segments in the beauty industry.

For women under 30, hair is a style and personality issue. For those over thirty, haircuts and hair colors have become a form of maintenance. Approximately 60 percent of American women have colored their hair in the last year. In a culture obsessed with youth, many women fear gray hair. Underhill believes that the antidote is a beautiful model with gorgeous gray hair. While hair on a woman’s head is a source of pride, hair elsewhere is a challenge and source of occasional embarrassment.

WOMEN AND SOCIAL NETWORKING

Facebook’s fastest growing demographic group is women aged fifty-five and over. In addition, across every age group, Facebook is growing more quickly among women than men. Underhill believes that Facebook’s popularity can be attributed in part to suburbanization and the car. Both have created large distances between people, but humans still want to connect with friends and family. Once a woman joins Facebook, her behavior is driven primarily by fostering relationships, not transactions.

Among American female Internet users, blogs are the most influential social media. Approximately 42 million American women use some form of social media each week. They engage in networking, writing, reading, and commenting on blogs, and leaving comments on message boards. Social networking and blogging have become informal ways of trading brand names. As a result, they have become an effective and informal means of viral marketing that is a threat to traditional media advertising.

PRINCIPLES OF PERSUASION

Being an effective speaker is considered a key executive competency, but it is also something of a dying art. People are relying more and more on digital communication, and studies show that listeners’ attention spans are getting shorter. Still, speaking is a more effective mode of communication than writing because vocal intonations help clarify meaning that gets lost when a message is written, and people focus their attention on the speaker.

McGowan finds there is a communications gender gap in the corporate world. Women have to walk a fine line between being seen as too empathetic or nice and being seen as bossy or inflexible. Men, on the other hand, do not have to deal with the same kinds of stereotypes. Women tend to back into their messages because they like to establish support for an idea before actually explaining it. Men tend to be less empathetic, so are often not as effective at explaining how an idea might help others.

But not all communication issues are gender based. People can be poor communicators because they focus too much on irrelevant details, make the same point over and over, rely on clichés, or continually edit what they just said, a habit called verbal backspacing. To help speakers overcome any quirks that keep them from being good communicators, McGowan recommends seven principles of persuasion:

1. The headline principle: Speakers should grab their audiences’ attention at the start.

2. The Scorsese principle: Speakers should create imagery with words to hold listeners’ attention

3. The pasta-sauce principle: Speakers should boil down their messages to make them strong and concise.

4. The no-tailgating principle: Speakers should talk slowly while thinking about what to say next.

5. The conviction principle: Speakers can show certainty with their words, tone, and eye contact.

6. The curiosity principle: Good conversationalists are interested in other people and what they have to say.

7. The Draper principle: Speakers should keep the conversation focused on their areas of strength.

To learn these principles and put them into practice, people can focus on learning and using one principle at a time. Individuals can study speakers on television to see how they display various principles, and they can evaluate their own use of the principles by reviewing recordings or videos of themselves speaking.

Persuasion Principles II

THE HEADLINE PRINCIPLE

The first 30 seconds of any speech are the most important: In those crucial seconds, the audience forms an opinion about the speaker. Therefore, speakers should not waste that precious first half minute stating what they plan to say or how long they plan to speak, thanking a long list of people, or babbling about how excited they are to be at a particular event or addressing a particular audience.

Good communicators approach the beginning of their speeches the way a journalist approaches the beginning of an article. They begin with their most compelling information and deliver it in a way that has the audience wanting more. An effective opening will be concise to convey information quickly, will feature a story or a provocative statement, and will possibly surprise the audience. It should contain the kind of information that the speaker would share with a friend when he or she says “You will never believe this” or “Did you know …” Speakers may wish to try out their headlines on friends or family to be sure the information grabs their attention before using the headlines in a public setting.

THE SCORSESE PRINCIPLE

The best speakers are storytellers who are able to paint pictures with words. Like renowned director Martin Scorsese, they create interesting visuals. They give the audience lots of detail, but they keep the story tight and concise. For most speakers, telling a story means relating an anecdote that illustrates the main point. In a speech, good stories follow a formula. During the build, the speaker sets the scene, introduces the characters, and hints at the conflict to create a sense of anticipation in the audience. The speaker then delivers the payoff for the audience, and pauses briefly to let the audience digest it.

Adding verbal imagery to a presentation might take a little imagination, especially when speakers are working with dry, number-laden material. One method is to use an analogy, such as following a statistic of how many people die from a particular disease annually by comparing that to how many people fit in a particular stadium or live in a city the listeners know. Not only can an analogy keep the audience interested, it also adds context and helps people better understand the message.

While having good stories is important, so is a speaker’s delivery. To improve a story, a speaker should:

*Practice the story with family and friends, gauging their reaction.

*Vary the pitch, pace, and projection while telling it.

*Eliminate needless information and know how to shorten or lengthen the build in response to the audience.

*Believe the story is interesting in order to tell it with conviction.

THE PASTA-SAUCE PRINCIPLE

To have the most impact, messages should be boiled down to their essence, not watered down with extraneous words to fill time. The speaker should have a definite start and ending in mind and be able to expand or contract what comes between those as needed. Practice and editing are the keys to keeping messages rich but succinct.

McGowan offers advice on using the pasta-sauce principle in several situations:

*When giving a speech, the speaker should keep the presentation to a maximum of 18 minutes and create mini-segments within the speech to keep the audience’s attention.

*When answering questions in a panel discussion or media interview, a speaker should be prepared with a punchy statement and a story or data to back it up for each topic he or she expects will arise.

*When pitching a new client, people should spend three times as much time talking about the client’s needs as they do talking about themselves.

THE NO-TAILGATING PRINCIPLE

Verbal tailgating is the practice of speaking so quickly that the brain cannot stay ahead of the mouth when a person is deciding what to say next. As the analogy suggests, the results can be a crash with embarrassing or even painful results. Speakers must slow down and think through what they intend to say before saying it.

Speaking slowly has several advantages:

*Silences and pauses help hold an audience’s attention.

*Slower speech makes a person sound more confident, while rushed speaking sounds apologetic.

*A slower pace indicates that speakers are engaged with the conversation, and are listening to what others say and pausing to consider it before commenting.

*Speaking slowly prevents speakers from having to verbally backspace and clear up what they intended to say.

People have a tendency to talk too fast, particularly when nervous. To counteract that tendency, speakers should be careful to slow down when they are working with new ideas or presenting important information. When individuals are unsure of what to say, they should pause while they search for the right word. People should also learn to listen more and talk less, as this makes others feel valued and gives a speaker time to think before continuing on.

THE CONVICTION PRINCIPLE

Good speakers convey conviction for their messages, no matter how uncomfortable they are speaking in public. Individuals can show enthusiasm for a message through their voices, tones, and body language. Their words cannot indicate any sort of equivocation, so speakers should avoid phrases such as “I think,” “kind of,” or “I will only take a few minutes of your time.” Speakers should also avoid clichés and using too much industry jargon. While being straightforward and clear is a good way to convey messages, speakers must not oversimplify them as if they are speaking to children.

In an interview or panel discussion, speakers might be challenged in a way that can shake their confidence. In such a situation, speakers should validate another person’s opinion but not let themselves be bullied into agreeing with it. Finding some sort of common ground, however, even if it is just a small point, can help ease the tension.

Because body language is such an important component in showing conviction, speakers must learn the correct way to sit or stand with conviction. The standing power position, for instance, requires individuals to stand straight with their shoulders back, their arms bent at the elbow, and their hands resting near their belt. In this position, speakers keep their hands under control, limit their gestures, and keep their feet still.

THE CURIOSITY PRINCIPLE

Someone involved in a conversation should be interested in what the other people present have to say. Being a curious, active listener is crucial to being a good conversationalist. Individuals who display curiosity are better able to find common ground with others, and people are drawn to those who are generous in listening to them.

When meeting with someone for the first time, such as a potential client, it is a good idea to learn as much about that person as possible beforehand. That way, a speaker can be prepared with topics to discuss as ice breakers and have some idea of what questions might generate additional conversation. During the conversation, there should be lots of give and take, with the speaker listening and asking questions of others at least half the time.

Body language is important for conveying active listening. Because people often appear bored even if they are paying attention to a conversation, McGowan recommends developing a listening expression. A person should have a quarter smile on his or her face while listening; that expression makes a person look confident, honest, likable, and curious. A smile that is too big looks like it is being faked.

THE DRAPER PRINCIPLE

Don Draper, a character on the TV series Mad Men, frequently says “If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.” The trick for speakers is to subtly change the topic so it plays to their strengths. Some speakers (including many politicians), are far too obvious and appear to read from a script, give a non-sequitur answer to avoid a question, or swerve widely from one topic to another. The best way to detour a conversation is to widen the topic, guiding it away from the danger zone to safer territory that is still related to the subject.

With proper preparation, speakers should be able steer the conversation fluidly. Whether individuals are preparing for a job interview or a meeting with the media, they should try to determine what questions or topics are likely to arise. During the interview, a speaker should pay close attention as the interviewer begins talking, because the introduction to the question gives contextual clues about what is coming. While the interviewer is finishing the question, a speaker should be mentally framing his or her answer by determining:

*The point he or she wants to make.

*The story or data that will illustrate that point.

*The first five words he or she wants to say. Having the first few words in mind increases a speaker’s confidence.

PERSUASION PRINCIPLES

While McGowan developed his seven principles of persuasion based on what makes a good television sound bite, many of the principles work in a wide variety of uncomfortable situations, including those encountered on the job. In all situations, speakers who combine fairness, honesty, and empathy are more likely to see good outcomes result from their comments.

When parting ways with a business associate, for instance, an individual should express that the decision should not be taken personally. The speaker should complement the other person on one of his or her strengths to lessen the blow, and allude to a future where both people do well going their separate ways. When reprimanding an employee whose work is not up to standard, an effective method is to ask sympathetic questions to find out why, and to act like a mentor giving advice rather than a boss giving an ultimatum.

Several of the principles come into play when individuals are attending a meeting. They should pay attention (the conviction principle), maintain a warm, engaged expression (the curiosity principle), and keep their comments brief and relevant (the pasta-sauce principle).

Job seekers facing the dreaded “tell me about yourself” question in an interview should focus on the headline and Scorsese principles. In answering the question, they should put forth the most important information first, and use stories filled with visual details to illustrate their strengths. When interviewers hear three to five memorable stories or examples from one job candidate, they are likely to remember the person.

People are often asked to give speeches or presentations at work, and being nervous about such public speaking is very common. To prepare, McGowan suggests writing an outline on note cards, then giving a practice speech without writing it out. Before transcribing a speech, it is helpful to record it (and then listen to it) so it will not sound too stilted.

To overcome jitters, a speaker should:

*Practice the beginning over and over in order to start strong and build confidence.

*Exercise on the morning of the speech to burn off nervous enerelationalskillsrgy.

*Arrive at the venue early to check it out and meet people.

*Take deep breaths at the lectern before starting the speech.

*Speak slowly.

*Use pauses, pitch changes, and different pacing to hold the audience’s attention.

GIVE FEEDBACK

CHOOSING WHEN TO GIVE FEEDBACK

By identifying the right moments to offer feedback, managers can be more effective in facilitating positive organizational change. Examples of some of the best times managers can give others feedback include:

*When someone’s good work, success, or resourceful behavior deserves recognition.

*When there is a high likelihood of improving the recipient’s skills.

*When the recipient is expecting feedback.

*When a problem cannot be ignored any longer because of its negative impact on team members or the organization.

It is equally important to recognize the times when giving feedback could be detrimental to the recipient or overall situation. Managers should avoid giving feedback:

*When they do not have all the information about a situation.

*When the feedback involves factors that recipients cannot change easily.

*When recipients are in a highly emotional state or have just gone through difficult experiences.

*When managers are not feeling calm or patient.

*When the feedback is based on a personal preference rather than an actual need for more effective behavior.

*When managers do not have solutions to accompany the feedback and consequently cannot help recipients move forward.

GIVING & RECEIVING FEEDBACK

GIVING AND RECEIVING FEEDBACK

Businesspeople need feedback to guide their careers and direct business results. Feedback is given for only two reasons–to maintain or change behaviors. Positive feedback is a milestone that lets employees know they are on the right track. Negative feedback helps them understand how to get back on the right track. To ensure tasks that are done effectively and in a timely manner are repeated, positive feedback must be given to those performing the tasks and appreciation must be expressed.

Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 10.55.15 amWhen people receive negative feedback, they usually become defensive. They will typically go through five stages before accepting the information: shock, anger, resistance, acceptance, and then hopefulness. To reduce a recipient’s defensiveness, the person giving negative feedback can be specific, focusing on actions, consequences of the actions, and alternative methods and behaviors for future performance.

FEEDBACK SKILLS

USING THE FEEDBACK FORMULA

cropped-cropped-pheader1.jpgWhen a businessperson has established a trusting relationship with someone and secured permission to give him or her feedback, it should be done in less than two minutes. Short, direct messages are easier for recipients to hear and act on. The recipients might not like what is being said, but they will appreciate the candor with which it is being said. The Feedback Formula for saying anything to anyone uses the following eight steps:

  1. Explaining the topic of the conversation.
  2. Empathizing with the recipient.
  3. Describing the observed behavior.
  4. Defining the impact of the behavior.
  5. Asking the recipient for his or her observations of the situation.
  6. Suggesting a different behavior for the next time.
  7. Agreeing on next steps and improved processes.
  8. Expressing appreciation by saying “thank you.”

ELEVATOR PITCH

DELIVER AN ELEVATOR PITCH

An elevator pitch is a classic technique whereby an individual sells something in a very short period of time. This is accomplished in three easy steps:

  1. Create a scene that demonstrates what problem the product solves.
  2. Pre-answer anticipated questions and concerns.
  3. Close the deal with an action step while asking for a commitment.

Individuals should avoid the common mistake of continuing to sell after someone has already bought. They must adopt the posture that they are doing the customer a favor, not the other way around.

LEARNING STYLES

SEVEN LEARNING STYLES

People learn in different ways, and any audience will include members that have different learning styles. A presenter should accommodate all of these styles. Experts typically recognize seven learning styles:

  1. Visual
  2. Auditory
  3. Verbal
  4. Kinesthetic
  5. Mathematical
  6. Social
  7. Solitary

Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 12.01.48 pmVisual aids serve the visual learner best. Including time for group discussions and providing a recording of the presentation will help auditory learners. Verbal learners understand things not only by reading them but also by writing their own notes. Similarly, talking things through in a breakout session will help them retain information.

Kinesthetic learners do best with physical activity. They do well with props and appreciate the chance to role play. Anything that gets them on their feet and participating will help them learn from a presentation. Games and problem solving work well with mathematical learners. They also do well with lists, clear organization, and diagrams.

Along with these five learning types comes a preference for either social or solitary learning. Speakers need to give social learners time to work together with other members of the audience. Again, role playing and discussion sessions work well here. To accommodate the solitary learner in such situations, the host can ask people to prepare individually before moving into groups. The solitary learner will want to make a list of arguments or solutions to a problem on his or her own before sharing with others.

NONVERBAL COMMUNICATION

NONVERBAL COMMUNICATION

An audience will consider the messenger before considering the message. They want evidence that the speaker is sincere, honest, interested, confident, and in control. A good speaker will dress at least as well as the best-dressed member of the audience and will always face the audience while speaking.

On stage, good speakers are the focus of attention; they are their own most important visual aid. They use gestures to clarify and dramatize ideas. In fact, gesturing will help dissipate nervous energy. Types of gestures include:

*Gestures above the shoulders suggest inspiration, uplift, and emotion.

*Below-the-shoulders gestures display sadness, apathy, or condemnation.

*Gestures done at shoulder level suggest serenity and calm.

*Emphatic gestures underline the words being spoken.

*Descriptive gestures help the audience visualize an object or concept.

*Prompting gestures are useful in evoking a response. For example, after asking a question, the speaker will raise a hand to prompt the audience to do the same.

Gesturing should be practiced all the time so that it becomes a habit. Gestures should come naturally, although on stage presenters need to reach beyond their normal comfort zones. Just as they raise their voices to be heard at a distance, so too must they extend and exaggerate their gestures.

Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 10.55.15 amHow and when to move about is another puzzle for would-be presenters. Movement always attracts audience attention, so it should not be haphazard. The presenter should never move without a reason. Stepping forward indicates arriving at a key point while stepping backwards allows the audience to relax after a point has been concluded. Lateral movements, such as walking across the stage, indicate transitions.