Today, I saw an interesting meme on Facebook. Most Facebook memes are, of course, meaningless at worst and semi-humorous at best. This one was pretty good, though. It said, “You talk to yourself more than anyone else. Make sure that what you say is meaningful.”
That started me thinking about our self-talk. We all have a self-talk, whether we admit it or not or whether it’s out loud or not. I’ve always found that my self-talk has a lot to do with my success, whether the self-talk is right before I speak or right before I sell. I’m guessing that you feel the same way, so the question is – what IS your self-talk?
If your self-talk isn’t contributing to your success, maybe it’s time to rethink it. Here’s my template; you don’t have to follow it exactly, of course, but if yours isn’t working for you, you might adopt parts of it that work.
Me: The first aspect of the self-talk I give is about myself. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t go down the Stuart Smalley route of “I’m good enough, I’m strong enough, and gosh darn it, people like me,” (although if that works for you, do it) but I do like to review some recent successes. If I’m giving a speech, I recall a recent speech where I got a great response. If I’m selling, I remember some recent wins that I put on the board.
The Other Party: Now, I review what I know about the “other party;” if it’s a customer, I recall what I’ve learned about the customer, and if it’s a speech, I recall the audience. To take it farther, in a sales call, I will bring a cheat sheet of details about the customer. In a speech, I can’t do that, but I will review the key points of what I know about the audience, their needs, and their wants. To be completely frank, I’ve often wondered if I’m not doing this in the wrong order. After all, the customer or the audience is far more important than me! Should I be reviewing them first? Perhaps – but I’ve been doing it this way for 25 years and it works for me.
The Conversation: The final review for me is the start of the conversation. In my experience, this is the hardest part of a speech or a sales call. For the remainder of the sales call (or speech) to be successful, I need to open meaningfully, and do so without yet getting a “feel” for the mood of the customer or audience. In a sales call, I’ll review my introduction and the first 3-4 questions that I plan to ask. In a speech, I’ll review my opener, which might be a question for the audience or a story that sets the table for the speech. I find that once I’m past this point in a speech (or a sales call), that experience lets me be in the moment and lets the conversation flow.
My Tools: I’ll do a quick check – I always call it my “paranoia check” – to make sure that whatever tools I plan to use are intact and working. In a sales call, I typically take in a cheat sheet of details about the customer, a question list, and perhaps my speaker one-sheet. I seldom use more than that. In a speech, I’ll have done my ‘technology check’ well before the audience arrives, making sure that my Powerpoint works, that my slide advancer has battery power, that the microphone works, etc.
With those four points of my self-talk, I can walk into a speech, or sales call, with confidence. And now, if you attend a speech, arrive early, and see me testing my Powerpoint, you’ll know why. And if you happen to see me sitting in a parking lot in front of a building where a potential customer might be….and through the car window you see me talking to myself…..let me be. I’m not crazy, I’m just doing my self-talk.