How do you know if your message is being received?


QUESTION:  When giving a presentation to a client I sometimes feel that my message is falling on deft ears. What can I do to help ensure a favorable response to my proposals?
ANSWER: In  a recent article I discussed the value of listening, more than speaking. When making a presentation, your goal is to have a conversation with the other person. If you are doing all the talking, how do you know if your message is being received? 

There are a number of ways to engage your client:
To begin, try to develop a comfortable rapport with the client. If you see a picture of a child in a baseball uniform holding a trophy, ask about the details. Then, at the appropriate time, segue into your sales presentation.

Be careful not to talk over the head of your prospect. Unless you see a college diploma on the wall, use simple, easy to understand language to describe your product or service. If he or she is a slow talking individual, take care to pace your delivery to match theirs.
Dress for the occasion. If your client is a banker or other professional, wear a suit and tie. If they are the owner of a construction company, take off your coat and tie and roll up your shirt sleeves.
Learn to understand body language, both yours and theirs. Certain postures, such as folded arms, could indicate a defensive or confrontational reaction. The eyes often indicate what a person is thinking or feeling.
Individuals react to different stimuli and can tell you if they are in a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic thinking mode. If the eyes are looking upward or unfocused it means they are supporting their thoughts with images. If they are looking side to side, their thoughts may be stimulated by sounds. And kinesthetic thinking means the person is describing their feelings to you. The eyes will generally gaze downward and indicate your message is not being well received.
Some studies suggest that you can tell if a person is left or right brained by observing eye movement. The analytical left brain person will most likely look to the right, while the creative right brain individual will look to the left.
While none of these techniques are an exact science, developing an awareness of them will surely increase your chances of connecting with your client.

Gray Poehler is a volunteer with the Richmond Chapter of SCORE, Counselors to America's Small Business. To ask a question or request counseling, go to A counselor will respond. Select questions and answers will be featured in Metro Business. To learn more about management issues facing small business and SCORE’s workshops, go to their web site or call (804) 771-2400, ext. 131.