“THEY SOLD ME OUT FOR A FEW SHEKELS MORE.” —Van Morrison
After 27 years as a professional speaker and trainer I’ve accumulated a long list of topics I can and speak on. When I recently looked at the list I realized most of the presentations were created based on what the meeting planner requested. Give ‘em what they want, right?
Taking my cue from Rush (see previous post) I decided to add in three new topics to the list that I want to speak on; “The Gift of Gab,” “Powerful Powerpoint,” and a program about overcoming fear, “Walk on the Wild Side”. Lo and behold I have already landed engagements for all three.
Yes, we must adapt and give people what they need (and will pay for) to get what we want. However, looking for people who need what we want to offer is often better because we’re passionate about it and likely proficient as well.
Small talk can lead to big business and sales. Although starting up a conversation looks like it comes easy to some (myself included), the truth is many people are introverts and have to learn how to be comfortable talking to strangers (me again).
This is my advice if the gift of gab is not a gift.
1. Know a little about a lot of things. I know, how shallow. But if you can speak for just a few minutes about something that interests the other person, they can take over the conversation and all you have to do is listen–which you should without interruption.
2. Find your inner Sherlock Holmes. “Most people look, but they don’t see,” said Sherlock Holmes. Pay attention to details that can provide clues about what to talk about with a person you don’t know well by using your powers of observation. Notice the type of phone they use, what they’re wearing, or the kind of car they drove up in as ideas for conversation starters.
3. Be the center of attention. If you have a hard time talking to strangers, put yourself in a position where others want to talk to you–and approach you first. If you have to stand and say a few words about yourself, have a clever “elevator pitch” that is unique or provocative. Volunteer to help set up, greet, or speak at an event as a way to get people’s attention and catch their interest.