When you’re trying to put together a persuasive presentation, a big part of the challenge to get the results you’re seeking is connecting successfully with the different personality types in the room.
Using benefit and pain words it’s a great way to start. But you know that you can’t talk to an extravert the same way you approach an introvert.
And it doesn’t work to throw in too many details or statistics if you have impatient big picture people in abundance. But you could appear incompetent if you don’t cite enough evidence to satisfy the number crunchers.
Your future success lies in gaining an understanding of what it takes to connect and convince the four different personality types in the workplace – and in your presentations. I’ll introduce you to each of the four behavioral styles found in most audiences including business teams, board of directors, and other organizations.
- Dealing with the Direct
- Dealing with the Influencer
- Dealing with the Steady
- Dealing with the Check-lister
Dealing with a Direct Personality, aka ‘The King’ or ‘The Queen’ in the Room
Many would agree—including me—that the most difficult kinds of communicators are the Direct types. Classified as extroverts, these individuals are usually dominant, outgoing, and forceful in their speaking. Picture a lion or lioness, king or queen of the jungle. They are big-picture focused, love to solve problems, are exceptionally goal-oriented, task-driven, and will roar out exactly what they want and rarely shy away from a direct confrontation. They tend to make fast decisions and don’t tolerate slower-thinking individuals too well. Maybe you’re a Direct, like I am, or you know one.
When you craft a message and you have direct personality types in the room, your message needs to be visionary yet practical, clear, and concise. They care about saving time and want to know specifically what’s involved. They are not usually particularly sensitive to how their roar may affect others.
Presiding Over a Direct-Heavy Group
Years ago, we had quite a few Directs on our board of directors of the Miami Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), when I served as president. I described our group in somewhat politically incorrect terms as, “All chiefs, no Indians.”
While the directs unquestionably helped us move forward into exciting avenues, it wasn’t without ruffling a few feathers along the way. We were able to hire an administrator, acquire new corporate partners, form alliances with other groups, and expand our involvement nationally, internationally, and with other chapters in the state. Other members with different communication styles wanted more time to think about the proposals, expressed concern about our finances, and insisted on putting more systems in place to accommodate our growth and plans.
My job as president, as other leaders find themselves doing, was to try to balance the opinions, goals, and personalities of our talented and strong-willed team. Since I am a Direct-style myself, I had to learn how to share the news about possible projects in a non-threatening way, and to secure agreement among the board members before forging ahead. I confess that some of my recommendations were better received than others, despite my best efforts to appeal to the different styles on my board.
How to Persuade a Direct
Since Directs often see themselves, like the lion or lioness, as the king or queen in their world, it’s not a good idea to tell them what to do. Ever!
Instead, lay out the big picture and share what you see as the specific options and probabilities for action. Give choices to them along with the ultimate decision-making capability. Even if they ask for your opinion or recommendation, try not to make your solution absolute. For better results, reiterate the pros and cons or options from which they can choose.
For guidance on developing your next presentation and more info on these personality styles, check out our FREE miniCourse, Present Your Expertise, by clicking here.
How Can Directs Adapt Their Behavior?
As a Direct, I’ve had to learn to adapt, to put on a mask, so to speak, to tone down my directness at times, and to try to be more patient. It has meant becoming more accepting of how others think and act, and to be less confrontational. What I like to say is that we Directs need to become mavens at biting our own tongue with some frequency, overriding our inclination to respond immediately to any given statement.
Does adapting your behavior to meet the situation at hand always work? No, alas. But from my experience and the research I’ve done on this aspect of communication, it helps to know that adapting our behavior is an acquired skill, just like improving a golf game or mastering a new software program. Set your mind to it, become familiar with the way things work, dive in, practice and you can do anything!
How to Get the Highly Social Personality Style to Listen and Act
You know you’re around what is called the Influencer type of communicator when they get excited and expressive about an issue and try to motivate everyone in the vicinity to climb onboard. They can also be “good talkers,” smooth and alluring with their words.
Envision a magnificent peacock with its colorful feathers fully extended. Influencers, like the directs, are big-picture and result-oriented extroverts. The differences are their passion for enjoying themselves, for enthusiastically promoting what they find fascinating or important, and their capacity to be charming and people focused.
Influencers can be easily bored, especially if you try and give them too much detail. They like to be in the spotlight and seem to carry an inner energy that draws people to them.
When you communicate with Influencers, your message needs to fly high and be as entertaining as possible. They care about being able to enjoy life even more and especially if possible, with less work, so demonstrate how your plan or product can help them do that.
How to Persuade a Highly Social Influencer
Influencers generally think highly of themselves and value the opinions of others who they see as experts or leaders. Impressive name-dropping can reinforce your efforts when you refer to other people and organizations who have previously embraced your idea, product, or service.
When I get a call from a prospective client and one of their first questions is “what companies have used your services before?”… I know he or she is most likely an Influencer. Practically no one else asks for my track record.
Rather than pile on too many facts or research findings that they may find dull, search for and showcase testimonials from recognized experts. Identify and offer incentives that will propel them to action, such as pleasurable outings, time off to experience new things, a chance to hobnob with celebrities, or ways their reputation or personal life can be enhanced.
How Can Influencers Adapt Their Behavior?
Okay, so you’re not a direct. You’re a fun-loving, outgoing influencer. Mostly, the world loves you! But the “I” part of you can take over and make you appear so self-centered and egotistical that you turn everyone off. Your lack of interest in the details and talkative nature can further hamper your role as a leader and communicator.
Begin to stuff an imaginary cloth in your mouth, so you can listen more instead of talk constantly. I’m exaggerating only a little bit. Try to remember that the big picture is grand, but it will work well only if the underlying foundation is solid.
Harness your inherently wonderful energy to get behind the plans of others, not just your own. They’ll welcome your support and be more likely to jump in and back you in the future, too. Force yourself to get into the weeds now and then, to more carefully examine the details than you might really want to do.
You’ll be surprised at what you learn and how it can help you advance your position.
How to Persuade the Tradition-Minded, Change-Resistant Steady Personality
As the name suggests, the Steady is a person who prefers life without too much drama, and favors a consistent, predictable course of action in most things. Who’s in your audience or on your team that is a Steady?
Wiliam Moulton Marsten, the psychologist who first published his research on these personality types originally called this style submissive, because giving in to the dictates of others was a core element in their behavior. Over the years, the name was modified because the description only yielded a small portion of their true characteristics.
In animal terms, I usually describe the steady as an elephant. As the majestic elephant, the steady has a remarkable sense of balance and loyalty. They are often the glue that holds an organization together when given the opportunity to use their talents.
The Steadies are classified as introverts, quieter and less in your face than extroverts. They tend to resist change and delight in celebrating and carrying on traditions. They function best as part of a well-managed team, a family-like group that is supportive and sensitive to the feelings of its members.
How to Persuade a Steady
In communicating with the Steady, it helps to understand that relationships are one of the most important parts of their world. When you talk about change, they naturally get upset or feel threatened because change always impacts relationships, whether with coworkers, vendors, systems, the community, or any other regularly occurring pattern. They want to know exactly why you are proposing something new or different, so be prepared to explain it in detail.
When you can paint a picture of change that will ultimately improve or safeguard key relationships, you’ll have a better chance of obtaining the results you’re seeking.
It’s key to provide as much reassurance and if possible, guarantees, when you try to persuade a Steady. They generally do not like change and most likely, you’re trying to get them to buy into some kind of change! In addition to personal reassurance, include a discussion that shows your recognition of their concern for the relationships in their circle, and what you have planned that will help reduce any negative impact.
How Can Steadies Adapt Their Behavior?
While you’re unquestionably the glue that can hold together a team or family, and your sensitivity to others is no doubt a blessing in most places, as a Steady, you can also be a stick-in-the-mud! The Steady prefers the tried and true and sometimes that isn’t the best course of action any longer. The Steady also wants everyone to embrace a plan and take a role in making it happen, a wonderful ideal, when it’s feasible.
Try not to look at every new plan as a threat to your existing relationships, whether they be with people or procedures. Instead, allow yourself to imagine how your team or community would benefit from the recommendation at hand. It’s fine to ask why a change may be necessary, your customary and thoughtful response, but put the answers you hear into a new context that allows you to make a judgment without being totally tied to the past. Tradition matters, but it’s not the only thing that does!
Convincing a Detail-Focused CheckLister Personality
Whenever I visit my accountant, Marvin, and I want to give him an update on a new project, he always says, “Anne, give it to me… one, two, three, four.” Since I’m a Direct, my natural style is the opposite: to first provide an overview, then scale down to the details.
But the CheckListers, like Marvin, are the heavy-duty details folks. You want that in a good accountant! They are introverts, usually soft-spoken, who want all the facts, figures, and rationale behind them. They thrive on rules and procedures and insist that these practices be followed precisely.
In the animal world, picture the wise owl that appears to see everything and everyone.
CheckListers moan when decisions are made too fast, without enough of what they regard as necessary, careful deliberation. They need to be right most of the time, to save face, and they only respond well if they’re told exactly how something will work, step-by-step.
How to Persuade a Check-Lister
When you’re communicating with the CheckListers, be sure you’re presenting an approach that has a high likelihood of being successful or you may never hear the end of it! Also, give them a robust explanation of the method you’re recommending, in as much detail as you can manage.
Naturally skeptical and distrustful of the new, to help overcome the CheckLister’s reluctance to go forward, you need to prepare a thorough and orderly analysis of the data behind your plan or about your product. They never want to be wrong and insist on proof that what you’re asking for approval will, in fact, work. Find and arrange your evidence carefully, and you’re on your way to a home run.
How Can CheckListers Adapt Their Behavior?
If you are a CheckLister, you are one of the quality-control chiefs of the planet, the ultimate inspectors in fields such as finance, the law, and logistics. In editing, you carefully strive to be sure that every “t” is crossed and every “i” is properly dotted.
While such precision is critical in many situations, it can absolutely throw a monkey wrench into the path of a train traveling faster than you like or perhaps in a direction you don’t think you want it to go. In your quest to follow the rules, you may overlook a situation that requires special consideration and a different treatment.
Let go of the red pen in your hand for a moment, or your digital equivalent. Try not to be so judgmental of every action before you. Give yourself the right to step back and look at the question at hand from a bit of a distance, instead of being right on top of the matter. Use your gift of being systematic to analyze what could work well, not only what might fail.