Terri Sjodin: Speak To Persuade, Not Just Inform
ORLANDO -- Glossophobia is the fear of public speaking and affects as many as 75% of Americans, according to some studies.
When it comes to pitching financial and retirement security, glossophobia is a major barrier to success. Terri Sjodin has spent 31 years advising clients on being better speakers and better presenters.
She returned this year to the NAILBA 40 annual meeting with fresh data on the problems financial professionals have while public speaking.
In 2020, Sjodin completed a study of more than 2,500 sales professionals in partnership with San Diego State University. Respondents self-identified 12 mistakes they made while presenting that caused them to lose deals. Among those 12, three things stood out as the biggest mistakes sales professionals self-diagnose:
3. They "wing it."
2. They conclude a presentation, but do not "close."
1. They are "informative" but not persuasive.
Then Sjodin and the researchers asked the salespeople to assess other presentations and give their No. 1 criticism.
"And the No. 1 mistake that you all recognized in other people was that their presentations were boring, boring, boring," Sjodin said. "Now I think that's really funny that people say 'Oh, I'm overly informative, but other people are boring.' We call that the third-party effect."
The simple fact is it can be hard to win over an audience, Sjodin said, even a conference audience that paid to attend. In reality, people just aren't that interested to hear you speak -- most of the time, she said.
"Most of the time before we get started in a presentation, people [say] this," Sjodin said, looking at her watch for emphasis. "I wonder how long this is going to take."
There is good news and bad news on the public presentation front, Sjodin said.
The good news: We can impact the amount of info people will retain.
The bad news: We are actually at a low point on retention.
"Our goal has to be to inspire connections to create presentations that are worth listening to," Sjodin said.
Many speakers struggle with visual things they don't realize they do, Sjodin said. A good tactic for improving is to record your presentation so you can see what you are doing, she explained. Be wary of unconscious body movements and nervous habits such as jangling keys, she advised. These can be distracting to the audience.
And know the difference between informative and persuasive speaking, Sjodin said. The data confirms the self-analysis that too many presentations are becoming informative, rather than persuasive. If you are making a call to action, then present in the latter mode.
"The persuasive presentation by design has intent," Sjodin said. "It means it's a mutual process involving the presenter and the listener, but the presenter has intention. He wants the listener to do something as a result of that method."
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Editor John Hilton has covered business and other beats in more than 20 years of daily journalism. John may be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @INNJohnH.
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