Speech is power: speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Netflix’s political thriller series, House of Cards, is one of those rare television shows that evokes a balance between satire and seriousness, interest and intensity, and fact and fiction. The show’s protagonist, Frank Underwood, is equal parts of Shakespeare villain and Washington politician; and despite knowing he causes inevitable destruction to everything he touches, it’s hard to root against him.
Much of Underwood’s success comes from his communication and presentation skills. His speeches and talking points are carefully calculated yes, but he is also able to quickly improvise and think on his feet from moment to moment.
If you observe the manner of speech writing and delivery of great public speakers like Underwood, you will notice that their speeches are full of stories and personal anecdotes, gratitude and humility, inspiration, and an amazing sense of intimacy. So why as an entrepreneur or business owner wouldn’t you use these techniques in your daily live chat interactions with customers? Let’s look at four lessons you can learn from Underwood’s presentation skills.
1. Gauge your customers before framing your sentences.
Underwood is a teleprompter pro, speaking fluidly with natural pauses and inflections. He “glances and grabs” a phrase from the teleprompter while maintaining eye contact with his TV audience, giving the impression that he’s talking directly to you. He is a smart and agile speaker who tailors his way of speaking according to the target audience.
Most marketers already understand the importance of building buyer personas to target different customers. But you should also consider the tone you use in each support scenario. While chatting with customers, make sure you have a grip on who they are before diving into the specifics of explaining your product.
2. Narrate stories and give examples.
There’s nothing more mind numbing than hearing or reading a bunch of facts and figures. Anyone can recite numbers to an audience. A true marketer will weave a story around the information to create meaning and purpose for the audience. Frank Underwood has a distinct narrative and a powerful story for different situations. He beautifully crafts his sentences and taps into simple truths through storytelling.
Similarly, while having a conversation with your customer, instead of stating data or facts and explanations, dramatize it and explain with a story or an example. These help give meaning to information and makes your message unique. In the end, they produce experiences that become the emotional glue to connect with your customers.
3. Use notes as a guide, not a map.
“Is it okay to use notes while talking to clients?” The answer is yes!
Underwood does this masterfully by glancing down to grab the next point from his notes without losing his focus on the audience. Underwood knows what he wants to say and uses his notes only to keep the facts straight and guide his delivery.
While chatting with customers, make sure you have notes ready. The proper facts and definitions of your products and features can be fixed as notes which can be altered according to the different types of conversations you have with customers. But like Underwood, they should only be your guide. Don’t rely on them too much and don’t be afraid to break away from them to meet a customer’s needs or to solve a problem.
4. Stand out from the competition.
From being the House of Representatives Whip to Vice-President and eventually President, Underwood gets things done. In the series, while other candidates or lobbyists use the same methodologies, Underwood channels his small town, layman roots to connect with voters, enemies, and colleagues. He remains “presidential” while using a more conversational tone through colloquialisms and stressing his Southern ways.
Underwood works the crowd, pans his body to be sure that he speaks to everyone in his audience, and steps closer when someone asks a question. Instead of repeating and following what your competitors do, create your own methodologies and stand out from the competition. Your customers will notice.
And just like Frank Underwood, use your best presentation skills in your live chats to engage with your customers and build long lasting relationships.