Selling igloos to Eskimos

Communication skills are natural to us. But as time passes by we lose them. How can we get them back?

I watch my son as he tries to convince me and other members of the family to buy something. The tone of his voice changes with each family member. Last year, he had convinced me to buy some things I had been putting off for a long time.

This made me think about the use of charm in communication. The practical communication skills we master in our childhood get processed in school, however not always for the better.

As we pass through school, most of us lose our skills to present our products and services to our clients and prospective investors.
‘Speaking’ is more than just ‘talking’. As the saying goes a big gift accompanied by a wrong tone of voice is worse than a small gift that comes with appreciation. I look up to Steve Jobs to observe the way he made his pitches. It was incredible how the products were crafted to meet people’s core wants, which could be converted to a ‘need’ with ‘x’ amount of money. Steve practiced for weeks in advance for his launches. He made us feel that the products were related to us. That is why most of us didn’t hesitate to pay a premium price to have them.

There are ways to hone our innate instincts, and bring the public speaker in us. There are many types of trainings and sessions you could participate in. But the one that I personally recommend is the Toastmasters Club.

At the Toastmasters Club, participants learn by doing in a no-pressure atmosphere. The club does not have any instructors. The members themselves evaluate one another’s presentations. You learn not only to speak but also to present in the most effective and efficient way. Moreover, the process also helps you gain leadership skills as you practice speaking in front of an audience. It is a form of learning that does not require study but just practice.

In Kathmandu, there are five such clubs. They meet in different locations of the city on different evenings of the week. The Himalayan Toastmasters Club meets on Thursdays; Everest Toastmasters on Sundays, Shangrila and Kathmandu Toastmasters on Wednesdays, and Laxmi Bank Toastmasters on Tuesdays.

I joined Himalayan Toastmasters in October 2013, after almost a decade of knowing about Toastmasters. After numerous small roles and speeches, I feel changes in me and also my confidence level. I have seen the same improvements in my fellow toastmasters also.

Be it an office presentation, or sales or elevator pitches, add science to the art of to get the message across. It’s not about the igloos, the Eskimos or their terrain. It’s you who can make it happen. Get rid of your inhibitions you and go sell that igloo to the Eskimos.

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