You know when…
…you hear somebody speak who’s obviously nervous and they’re talking a million miles a minute and you kind of wonder if they’re even breathing and you sort of kind of feel bad for them because you can tell how nervous they are so now you sort of feel nervous FOR them—and you really hope they seriously don’t faint, vomit or do that thing where they blank, cry and go running off the stage?
Kind of awkward, right?
Kind of distracts from the message, right?
Kind of like when William Hung sang “She Bangs” on American Idol. You really couldn’t take that guy seriously.
You know who else we have trouble taking seriously when they’re frantically sputtering out their own name, trying to gather their papers and say something intelligible?
You, when you’re on the phone with a prospective client.
Did we all just do a group groan? (Groan, not moan.)
You know the drill: Someone shows interest in your services, so you put on your Tweety Bird cheery fake face and propose that you “hop on a call” (FML for this term) “to see if there might be a fit.”
Then, when you finally get on THE CALL, you can’t even pay attention to what you’re saying because you’re trying to hurry through your spiel because you’re SURE they have other things to do and really you just want to close your eyes and get through it and hope they don’t ask you any hard questions like, “How much is all this going to cost?” because then you’ll be forced to swallow that lump in your throat and actually SAY IT OUT LOUD and what if they laugh at you and say it’s too high and to get real and have a nice day? Or worse, what if they somehow figured out a way to throw tomatoes at you through the phone (technology is advancing at the speed of light, after all) before uploading a recorded version of the conversation to somebody’s award-winning dickhead podcast with the title, “How to sound like a complete and utter incompetent moron,” which will not only ruin your business forever, but your self-esteem, and given that you were JUST getting over the one time Joey Lemonchelli told everybody in the 7th grade you were a bad kisser, you’re kind of on the brink, and you don’t know if you can do this whole sales thing, and you never wanted to do all of this negotiating stuff because all you really wanted to do was DESIGN GORGEOUS LOGOS, OKAY?
When you’re nervous, and you’re on the phone / speaking in front of a large group of elephants / giving a presentation / making a sales pitch, remember two things:
First, you belong there. You’re there because they were already impressed with you. You don’t have to beg for their attention—you’ve already got it. And second, you’re equals. You aren’t wasting their time. If anything, there’s a chance they may be wasting yours. Assume you’re both on equal ground, here. They’d like your service as much as you’d like their investment.
Knowing that, it becomes easier to operate from a position of power—not intimidation.
And the quickest way to project more power, more authority, more poise and more command over a conversation?
Is to force yourself to speak slowly and deliberately.
When someone speaks slowly and deliberately, you sense that they’ve got enough self-esteem to be doing so; that they feel their message is important enough to warrant the time; that they matter to the conversation.
And this rubs off.
It rubs off on a client’s perception of you, and more importantly, on their perception of your work.
It rubs off on how much they’re willing to trust you, and in turn, rubs off on how sensitive they’ll be to your fees.
It rubs off on whether they’re more likely to sign a deal today—or tell you “they’ll get back to you.”
And it rubs off on how good you feel about the way you’re showing up in the world—maybe the most important piece of all.
Because even though you might feel like a giant William Hung on the inside…
The best kept secrets?
…are still secrets.