Surviving the sharks in your tank
by Tiffany Dahlberg
"It's not my responsibility to listen. It's your responsibility to make me hear." At first, I was taken aback by this statement. How could Robert Herjavec say such a thing? Then, I realized, this is Shark Tank. They aren't there to be patient, nice, or accommodating. People who don't interest them get eaten alive, on TV, in front of millions of people. I felt bad for these two guys who failed miserably at pitching their product, Splikity. But when the next contestant, Mikki Bey, pitched her product, she took charge and I saw a clear difference.
When you are presenting your ideas, reporting on a project status, or facilitating a meeting, how do you get people to listen? Sure, in a perfect world people would be respectful and listen when others spoke, but in today's climate we have many things distracting us and people tune out. Do you demand attention?
If you think of you work environment like that of the ocean, here are three tips to help you avoid being eaten by the sharks:
  1. If your message isn't working, change it.
    These guys found themselves being attacked and went on the defensive. They
    doggedly kept defending their product, which the sharks felt was inferior. They should have stopped repeating the same ineffective answers, acknowledged objections, and adjusted their message. 
  2. Don't assume that people will listen to you.
    Do something to get their attention and pique their interest. In the Shark Tank, you must get to the point quickly-
    show them why your product solves a problem and powerfully outline your plan to grow your business. Identify your listeners' needs and address them immediately to engage your audience. Some effective tactics include being funny, unique, passionate, prepared, precise, and brief.
  3. Take charge.
    The other difference between the Splikity guys and Mikki Bey? Mikki Bey didn't let the Sharks hijack her presentation. When asked to be brief, she responded that she would get to her point, but this was her time. She took charge instead of getting defensive and adjusted to their questions instead of giving information that the Sharks weren't interested in hearing. She didn't give in to fear; she showed them that she deserved to be there.
Whether you feel like a little fish in a big pond or you are the big fish, don't get eaten by the sharks. Get their attention, customize your message, and take charge when you are pitching yourself.
Contact me for more tips on effective communication in your organization.  
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Tiffany Dahlberg
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