How to Represent (Sell) Yourself Well, Part I
You may not think that your job would ever require you to be a good salesperson, but just look at the many situations where physicians and physician leaders find themselves promoting an idea, a project, a perspective, or an opinion in front of an audience:
- Giving a talk at a community health fair
- Meeting with prospective investors in your company
- On the witness stand, offering expert testimony
- Meeting with prospective clients of your new service
- Introducing a new initiative to your board
- Meeting with prospective corporate purchasers of your insurance product
In each of these situations, your goal is to influence the audience in a way that leads them to take a specific action.
By the way, don’t think of sales as an underhanded undertaking or sleazy business. Consultative selling, when done well, is an educational process that addresses your audience’s needs, and honors their desire to hear about best options that can improve their situation.
The Three Components of Effective Representation
When I work with clients to improve their effectiveness in front of audiences, we focus on these three key components of presenting themselves well:
- Platform skills – While it is not necessary for you to be as polished as a professional speaker, some basic rules and practice for how to set the stage and manage yourself during the event—whether on the podium, at the investors meeting, at community outreach meeting, or on the witness stand—is critical. Stage management can range from knowing where to sit or stand relative to a prospective client or audience member, how to structure the agenda, how to introduce yourself or a colleague, and when to stand and sit during the meeting. Increasing the prospective client’s comfort with you and enhancing your command of the issue is the goal.
- Key Messages – It is important to have a short list of key messages or an overarching “theme” that prospective clients or the target audience will walk away with. The messages are practiced in the various situations where they might arise; for example, as a planned declarative statement or extemporaneously in response to a question from a client or audience member. Being clear about what you want to communicate and having a set of phrases that can be employed in different ways while “standing on your feet” is the goal. Furthermore, the key messages should reflect and relate to the prospective client’s goal or issue as much as possible. [More in Part II]
- Authenticity – A prospective client, jury, or audience ultimately buys into you, the person. Credibility and personal power are best expressed by being authentic—coming across as real, being true to your self. It is important then to dig deep and uncover unique talents, values and personal strengths and bring these to the forefront for each event. Merely reciting impressive credentials can backfire on you if you come across as “full of yourself.” Audiences are more impressed with a high-credentialed professional who is “genuine” and “down to earth.” And when you s how up with confidence and ease about who you are, your audience is likely to forgive any number of platform missteps.
Next time you anticipate having to sell or promote your idea, practice, project, service, or opinion in front of an audience, plan how you will incorporate these three components.
In a future column, we’ll delve a little deeper into the art of understanding your prospective client’s issues, and how to respond in a way that wins their confidence.
If you or your team would like some help in promoting your organization, and enrolling clients or allies, contact me to arrange an initial conversation so we can assess how well prepared you are now and where you need additional work.