Sales and Marketing

The Art of Engagement

Why every leader & entrepreneur today must be a master orator? When we talk about engagement here, we are referring to people engaging with people (one-to-many) and not the product. While engaged with an audience, you should be clear about what are you addressing to whom rather than the outcome.

The phrase ‘people buy from people’ doesn’t just refer to the buying of goods. It equally refers to the sharing of knowledge, wisdom, thoughts and ideas. This is our primary role as a leader, entrepreneur and/or subject matter expert. In a world that’s wired 24/7 it is becoming increasingly challenging to make ourselves heard let alone stand out from the competition.

Gone are the days when we could simply rely on great content in a book, a white paper or on our websites to sell our thoughts and ideas. If life were a play, you would be the producer, director, writer and actor all rolled into one. In order to engage an audience, you must come from a place of absolute conviction. To even think about stepping onto the stage before you are 100% clear on why you are there would not only be pointless, but also potentially detrimental to your integrity and your career.

People are looking for experts they can trust & feel a connection with
Where the focus used to be predominantly on systems, processes, structure and hierarchy, today the emphasis must be more on inspiration, influence, differentiation and collaboration if you want your point of difference to shine. Traditional forms of marketing have lost their traction as people today are looking for experts they can trust and with whom they feel a connection.

Our focus must therefore shift from just delivering great content to creating, delivering and amplifying powerful messages that connect with our audiences and influence them to act. The key to winning hearts and minds and being a person of influence in the 21st century is to master the art of telling a great story and making sure the subject matter and the way it is told is relevant to the audience you are addressing. This includes people within and beyond your own company.

Think of a time when you have had to tell staff of a major change that you knew would dramatically impact the way they operate. Many leaders make the mistake of sharing this type of information in an almost apologetic way, thinking that their staff may support them if they think external forces drove the change.

In other words, these leaders mistakenly think that if their staff members assume they are unhappy about the change too, then they won’t blame them for the extra work the change causes. But nothing could be further from the truth. Optimism creates energy, confidence and clarity while negativity is a deadly toxin that does nothing but generate more negativity and reduce your level of integrity.

Are you crystal clear on your own grand plan?
Inspiring greatness in others begins with your own intention – why are you doing? what you are doing? What’s your grand plan; your vision? It is only when you are totally clear on your intention, that you can allow it to drive your purpose, which, when driven with unwavering conviction, will produce the desired outcome. So what is conviction? In my view, conviction comes from the heart. Leaders who are absolutely clear on their intention feel the passionate fire of conviction deep within their bellies. It is this burning flame that will sustain the discipline needed to achieve their vision.

Speak from a place of conviction and understanding
Speaking from a place of conviction is immensely powerful. But just as powerful is when you come from a place of listening and understanding rather than dominance and control. To accomplish this, start by focusing your attention outwards. Show your audience that you understand their needs, wants and points of view. Let them know you have listened to them and understand their ‘pain points’ by using examples, analogies and metaphors that highlight the big WHY (why they need what you have to offer).

Let’s look at an example we’re all familiar with. When we visit the doctor, he or she almost always begins by listening to you, asking probing questions designed to get to the root of the problem and confirming they understand what you have told them by paraphrasing what you have said. Doctors demonstrate their engagement by diagnosing the problem at hand, followed by either a referral to a specialist or for some tests or handing out a prescription which most will happily follow without question.

By communicating with conviction you demonstrate that you are coming from a place of deep understanding, empathy, humility and service. This isn’t about convincing someone to believe your point of view. Rather, your mastery of the topic, the self-belief you possess and the energy with which you communicate your point of view creates a powerful magnetism that draws people towards you. Great leaders, entrepreneurs and subject matter experts are masters at the art of story telling. More than just the words they use, their tone of voice, gestures, body language and posture come together to reflect their passion and mastery of a topic in a way that excites the audience they are addressing and compels them to act.

In other words, the same topic may be addressed in different ways depending on the audience and their motivation for being there. If you were speaking on the topic of property investment for instance, you would address investors very differently to the way you would address property developers and property managers as each would be there for very different reasons.

As an authority in your field, the conversations you have with others are equally about what you say and your intention behind saying it. Remember, people don’t buy products and ideas; they buy people. Once you understand this key point, you will understand that the focus should always be less about the outcome and more about the audience you are addressing.

About the author

Prakash Menon

Prakash ‘PK’ Menon is one of the most influential leadership, retail and supply chain and logistics authorities. He is the author of three books – Driven – Accelerate Your Career with Smart Transitioning, Supply Chain is Sexy – Harnessing the Retail Revolution and Fail Smart – The Undeniable Link Between Failure & Success. Please connect with him on [email protected]

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