Likeability - one of the six methods of influence identified by Dr Cialdini – can be quite subtle in the way it works and therefore more tricky to pull off than it can first appear. There’s more to likeability as a method of influence, for example, than simply being ‘nice’.
There is a natural and obvious aspect of likeability, in terms of being a nice person to do business with: turning up for meetings on time, following through on commitments, showing respect for colleagues, clients and suppliers all contribute to the standard expectation required to be ‘liked’. There’s also the slightly wider viewpoint of having fair terms and conditions, and behaving promptly, pragmatically and professionally if things go wrong.
The trickier subtlety to likeability, however, is the ability to create an aura of ‘gosh, I’d like to be like him/her’. The sort of behaviour that causes colleagues to say to each other, ‘wow, you know we really ought to be more like them – they’re an impressive bunch’.
So how do you go about creating this aura of likeability during a sales presentation?
In truth, creating and delivering persuasive presentations is a piecemeal process. Certainly, you’ll want to make sure that you’re addressing the needs of the audience as closely as you can. Always put audience needs at the centre of your performance.
You’ll also want to radiate confidence and conviction which is something that comes only from practice and really knowing your material. People often know much more about their subject matter than they give themselves credit for. The very act of writing out prompt cards helps people memorise their key points, leading to the cards themselves being redundant by the time the presentation is delivered. More often than not, cue cards end up being kept in hand as a comfort blanket, an insurance policy against last minute stage fright.
A further tip for radiating confidence is to know the order in which your supporting graphics appear (PowerPoint, Keynote, Prezi etc). Presenters who repeatedly look behind themselves break eye contact with the audience and in so doing, loose that crucial connection. Your audience is more important than your slides.
Examples of previous projects and the approach your organisation adopts also help build likeability – especially if linked to flexibility and good results – which, of course, relate to other methods of influence addressed in other posts in this series.
This six-part series is based on Robert Cialdini’s methods of influencing people, as per his pivotal 1984 text Influence, the Psychology of Persuasion. We have adapted the six methods of influence to illustrate their applicability to the creation and delivery of memorable, more persuasive sales presentations.
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