Before You Negotiate Anything 1024 576 Lisa

Before You Negotiate Anything

This year has been about negotiations. We are negotiating contracts, mortgages, rent reductions, haircuts, and even how we dine at restaurants just name a few. We see states negotiating for ventilators, congress negotiating stimulus packages and countries negotiating travel bans. You, likely, have already had to negotiate something this year or are about to. The types of negotiation you are making can have a huge impact on you and your family’s wellbeing. Now is not the time to be off your game.

For the high stakes negotiations, here are my top three “must haves” before sitting at the table.


Research whatever it is you are negotiating and research who you are negotiating with. By looking at who the other person is you can likely gather what they want, both personally and professionally from the conversation. This knowledge will help you prepare your strategy. Do not judge them or make assumptions. This is different from understanding them. The key is to understand what they want and why they want it. In addition to researching you can also ask advice from someone you trust who has negotiated with the adversary before or has made a similar negotiation and won.


Be crystal clear regarding what you want and what you are willing to settle for. This clarity is especially helpful when negotiating a raise or contract. You may want a $20k raise but you could settle for $10k and more vacation time. Whatever your numbers are, do not show you are willing to take less than you are asking until the end of the negotiation. Force them to talk you down even though you know you’ll agree. This strategy is important. Let the other person feel they have done a great job negotiating. Not only will they enjoy the conversation, they will respect you for holding out and likely feel they owe you.

Emotional Strength:

You have nothing to lose. Adopt this attitude. Be willing to walk away.  If you are not getting anywhere or the other party thinks they have more negotiating power – walk. Never show any emotional attachment. If you allow the other person see that you are emotionally attached to the outcome, you lose your power. Suddenly they will be in control of the conversation and therefore in control of the outcomes. Show a willingness to walk away and no emotional attachment. A neutral, I-have-nothing-to-lose attitude will surprise and throw off your opponent, thus comfortably handing you control of the conversation.

In the end, remember a negotiation is simply a process aimed at reaching an agreement between two parties. You want to be armed with as much information as possible, be clear on what you do and don’t want, and operate from a place of strength.

Navigating Difficult Conversations 275 183 Lisa

Navigating Difficult Conversations

Navigating Difficult Conversations

Whether it’s a professional or personal conversation, one of this year’s biggest challenges has been navigating difficult conversations. For some of us living in homes with people who have opposing viewpoints, it’s become part of daily life.

Unlike ordinary conversations, difficult conversations are much more likely to hijack our internal sense of peace and create feelings of panic or anger. While these intense emotions take hold, we fall into the trap of building a wall when we are hoping to build a bridge. We may even find that our conversation has become unproductive or explosive in just a few minutes.

So what can we do to ensure our sense of calm doesn’t get hijacked and we stay in bridge building mode?

Think through what matters most to you in the conversation. Set intentions and achievable goals. Some important goals could be to keep the conversation pleasant, find common ground, listen and acknowledge the other person’s viewpoint. These are all things you can control. Setting intentions or goals that are outside of your control will likely lead to panic if the conversation doesn’t go well. Acknowledging how your body responds to fear or anger can help you stay calm. Perhaps when things get challenging your heart races, back stiffens, you find breathing more difficult and so on. Prepare physically by doing some slow deep breathing. Keep your eyes open and imagine the breath is going into your belly and back. Shake your hands vigorously to release excess tension.

Emotion in the Conversation
You must stay in your own emotional state without taking on the other person’s. If the other person becomes angry or emotional, stay neutral. If you need to defuse the situation, say less and listen more. The more neutral you are, the more likely your friend or colleague will come down from being carried away by emotion.

Know When to End
This one can be especially tricky if you don’t know the person well. You may be surprised to find they are triggered easily, and the conversation has gone down a rabbit hole quick. Try ending it by asking a question. “Perhaps, we should take a break and reconvene tomorrow?” This will buy you time to rethink your strategy based on their response.

What to avoid
Do not use condescending tones or language. That is a surefire way to increase tension and put your partner on the defense. Stay on topic and do not let your partner change the subject. If they resist staying on topic you may need to end the conversation. You’ll also need to avoid letting your ego take over. The desire to “win” or control the outcome may be human but not productive.

Final Thoughts
With all conversations where risk is involved, knowing how to handle yourself when a conversation gets heated is key. Mental and physical preparation helps ground you in your intentions, increases your control over your physiological responses, and sets a foundation for staying engaged in a way that aligns with your intentions. Once you are deep in the conversation, stay on topic, listen and keep breathing. Remember, you cannot control another person’s responses, only your own.

Lisa Wentz 7/29/20

Voice & Speech Training Is Crucial for Successful Meetings During Quarantine 609 800 Lisa

Voice & Speech Training Is Crucial for Successful Meetings During Quarantine

Voice & Speech Training for Successful Meetings During Quarantine

First, let’s start by defining what voice and speech training is. Voice and speech training was originally developed for stage actors to achieve the following:
to reduce mental and physical tension which interferes with breathing and speaking while performing; to help actors develop a strong, grounded voice and presence on stage; and finally, to develop stamina of articulatory muscles (lips, tongue, and jaw) for clarity. The need for this training may perhaps seem obvious from the point-of-view of a cast of actors performing Hamlet eight shows a week.

What doesn’t seem obvious is that the same training is essential for business professionals in meetings for several hours a day and anyone in a leadership position. Here’s why . . .

Breathing: Reduce tension and focus your mind

The fastest and most effective way to shed excess tension and focus your thoughts on delivery is to warm up with breathing exercises. I recommend using long deep breaths. Breathe in through your nose and out through the mouth. When you breathe out, make the sound of a long, sustained S. Six to eight slow deep breaths 30 minutes before your speech is ideal. While in your meeting, continue to breathe deeply between thoughts and during pauses.

Try to remember excess tension is nothing more than wasted energy. The energy you could be using to articulate your message or persuade and inspire your team is not easily accessed when experiencing mental and physical tension. In voice and speech training, we start with the understanding that humans function as a whole and can only fundamentally change as a whole. In other words, the mental tension and physical tension co-exist together and must be addressed simultaneously. By reducing tension and learning to economize our energy output we can create a stronger presence.

Resonance: Developing your voice

Who doesn’t want to speak with optimum resonance? A fully resonant voice not only projects confidence, it’s easier for your audience to listen to. Being in several meetings a day gets tiring. Particularly if you are in virtual meetings. Think of how you feel when you listen to a stressed or worn out voice. Likely, it causes you to feel tired or stressed yourself. The answer to this problem is two-fold: we must learn to breathe to support our vocal stamina and speak slowly with more pauses.

Articulation: Speaking clearly to be heard and understood

At this stage in my career, I have worked with clients from 37 countries. I have helped my clients raise A, B, and C rounds, sell million-dollar projects and speak to media on camera in high pressure interviews. ESL speakers have a special understanding of the importance of good articulation of language.

However, articulation training is not for ESL speakers alone. Increasing the clarity of your speech with articulation exercises right before a meeting or each morning before work increases the positive impact you have on others. Having taken the time to carefully craft your delivery relaxes your listeners. They do not have to strain to understand you or fear missing out on something you have said. I cannot emphasize enough how crucial this piece is for virtual meetings where the sound quality of the platform itself may be working against you.

Moving forward

As you apply the above exercises and advice, remember these three areas are meant to refuel your energy. The added benefits are the increased power of your presence, a richer vocal quality, and articulate messaging, which enables a more successful meeting for you and your colleagues or team members.

Public Speaking Coaching & Sales Enablement 1024 588 Lisa

Public Speaking Coaching & Sales Enablement

Why a Public Speaking Coach Is Essential to Sales Enablement

When we think of public speaking training, most of us imagine preparing for a conference, an all-hands meeting or TED Talk. And although training and preparation for these arenas are vital, these are not the only places public speaking skills can make or break your performance.

Here are a few areas a public speaking coach can help with, whether you are in front of a decision-maker, buyer, or board of directors:

Managing Nerves
A well-trained coach knows exactly how to help you identify the thoughts that trigger stage fright. Even in its most mild form, stage fright causes an adrenaline rush which makes appearing confident and on message very difficult. After identifying what thoughts cause your nerves to go haywire, you must have a system in place to eradicate this—before it takes hold and causes you to be thrown off your game.

When Natural Charisma Is Not Enough
Many salespeople rely too heavily on their natural charm and personable approach. What happens when you are faced with a decision-maker whose blank stares and impenetrable demeanor give you nothing to work off of to create the rapport you are so used to having? Are you thrown off and flustered? Do you give up? Your mindset is everything in these moments. A great public speaking coach likely has drama training under her belt and can help you enter any meeting with achievable goals and objectives you can meet regardless of whether or not you feel rapport is being built.

How To Be Clear and Concise
Even the most experienced sales teams I’ve worked with in San Francisco and Silicon Valley struggle with how much information to give in a presentation or pitch. I will ask my clients: “What does the buyer need to know to help them make their decision?” Stick to the bare bones and do not get bogged down with details. If they want you to elaborate, they will ask questions.

Use of Word Stress, Imagery and Pauses in Your Delivery
If you want a potential buyer to hang on your every word, be drawn in by your descriptions, and remember what you’ve said, these are the techniques you want to employ. A public speaking coach is used to creating, co-creating, editing, and directing scripts. We understand which words are the most impactful, where to pause to give the listener time to take in the message, and how use of imagery excites audiences. 

Imagine the opposite occurring: You are the buyer and the seller of a complicated product is speeding through the description without pausing. Or perhaps they are leasing a building with a beautiful view but skip the description of the scenic view that would greatly improve your chances of buying it. Or a seller uses minimal word stress so their delivery becomes monotone and you begin thinking about your next appointment.

In my coaching practice, I have found these are common mistakes and the solutions are often overlooked by sales professionals. A simple road map of where to pause and what words to stress can quickly lift your delivery from average to master public speaker with maximum impact.

To Sum Up

Not only do we want to make a sale, but we also want to feel we are at our best when we do it. We want to be calm, fully present, and impactful. This requires the similar training and tools that actors and public speakers use. Taking the time to develop your speaking skills is a must if you want to hit it out of the park every time. These are just a few of the reasons why a public speaking coach is essential to sales enablement.

Public Speaking: a step by step program to get you started! 1024 576 Lisa

Public Speaking: a step by step program to get you started!

Public Speaking: a step by step program to get you started!

“I’ve always wanted to do this. I finally decided to not hold myself back” I often hear this statement and many others like it spoken within the first few minutes of my private coaching sessions.

Public speaking can intimidate even the most extroverted personalities. It’s no wonder given it’s not something we are trained in and not faced with until we are required to deliver a speech — sometimes without much notice. Speaking in public is a broad topic that is not limited to professional speakers, speaking at team meetings, to a board of directors or other professional engagements but also at weddings, graduations and other social events.

If you are stepping out of your comfort zone to take the stage for any reason, here are some proven tips you can apply to reduce nerves and deliver with impact:

Acknowledge Nervousness: Ever notice that pretending something isn’t there makes it worse? I have. First step to a great speech is to embrace the fact that you may be nervous. Think of this as a good thing. You are feeling a racing heartbeat, sweaty palms and so on because you care. If you didn’t care about the outcome, I’d question whether you should be speaking in the first place.

Reduce Nerves and Focus: The fastest and most effective way to reduce nervousness, shed excess tension and focus your thoughts on delivery, is to warm up with breathing exercises. I recommend using long deep breaths. Breathe in through your nose out through the mouth. When you breathe out, make the sound of a long, sustained S. Six to eight slow deep breaths 30 minutes before your speech is ideal.

Create Rapport: Start with a warm vocal tone, eye contact and slowing down the rhythm of your speech. This will let the audience know you are talking to them, not at them.

Insert Pauses: If you are someone who uses filler words, like “actually” “so” or “uhm” consider pausing in those moments. The pauses allow the audience time to digest the information in your speech. It also allows you time to breath and focus. You can also use pauses strategically to get a point across. For instance, pausing after asking a question gives the audience time to think, and shows you are about their mental involvement in your speech.

Consider your purpose and setting: Adapt your speech to your specific audience and the venue. This will help you decide on the level of complicated information you need to share or determine your choice of words. You may be able to use specific “ice breakers” or humor depending on who’s in the audience and where and when it’s taking place.

Match tone to content: You can use different tones within the same speech to keep the audience engaged. Start with a warm and welcoming tone. Then, if you are delivering great news your tone could be happy ore excited. When delivering a problem try a somber but resilient quality. Higher energy is a way to create excitement, while quieting your tone creates thoughtfulness.

Body language: Nonverbal communication can help emphasize your message. You can use your hands when delivering verbal bullet points, such as a list of problems you are tackling. Avoid pacing and replace it with deliberate movement such as walking a few steps after you finish one section to start another. Additionally, allowing yourself to freely move while matching your movement to your content is a great way to dissipate nervous energy.

Prepare and Practice: Prepare so you have a clear road map to follow as you deliver your speech. As part of this preparation I suggest assigning objectives to each section. Think through what you want the audience to take with them. Practice on your feet, out loud with an audio recorder. You’ll have a better sense of flow and what content can be cut or added to make the speech more effective.

There are many wonderful resources where you can see the above techniques applied. TED talks, such as Bryan Stevenson’s Let’s Talk About an Injustice, is an excellent example of changing tone to match content and using body language to emphasize a point. Any of Barak Obama’s or Caesar Chavez’ speeches drive home the power of pausing. As you watch, remind yourself not to fall into the “compare and despair” trap. While we can learn much from speakers who have crafted their delivery with years of practice, it’s your job to sound like you and find your own authentic style. Be fearlessly authentic and you will always be interesting to watch.

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Lisa Wentz is a public speaking expert who coaches executives and managers from Fortune 500 companies and the non-profit sector. Her new book, Grace Under Pressure: A master class in public speaking (LID Publishing) is available now in the US.