Your Message is Important!

Everything from your great tagline to your copy on every page of your site to the colors and design you choose is critical to engaging your clients.

Every choice you make tells the story of your product and your company.

It is important for Israeli businesses engaging with clients all over the world to do more than use English well on their sites, or for their sites to look nice.

They must also understand the nuances of business, sales and the culture of their target audience.  Images, symbols and colors are another form of language.

If you want your business to perform at its peak, make sure you use peak talent to make sure your branding and copy are perfect.

-Julie Gray

Contact me today for rates and availability.

Scroll down for blog posts on topics ranging from making great presentations to cultural differences between Americans and Israelis.

 

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How to Save Your Meeting

You read Your Meeting Isn’t About You – you did everything right, yet at some point during a meeting, you can tell that your listener has tuned out.

attentMostly, it was the body language. Your listener’s eyes drifted to the window. To his or her watch or smartphone. To the wall. Not on you.

It might have also been a tone of voice that changed. A flatter tone, less enthusiastic, some “uh huhs” in there.

Whatever it is, you have the gut feeling – and you are right – that your listener is just putting in time until the meeting is over.  It’s not a very good feeling.

Can you save this meeting? Maybe.

But not trying is not an option, right? You have a lot riding on this meeting. It was not easy to get. It could open doors for you.

One of two things is happening here, in this suddenly not-so-great meeting. Either a) your story, app, business idea is just not a match for the listener and his or her company or b) it could be but you’re not pitching it very well.

Without knowing, exactly, which is the case, your only option is to try to save the meeting and go for a successful outcome.

Here are a few things you can do to try to get the listener to engage once again with you and with what you are saying.

  • Shift back to the sexy meta description – the big picture.

It could be that you’re gotten down in the weeds too quickly and stayed there too long. Details are not particularly interesting to listen to anyway, so try picking up your pace and returning to the major bullet points only. Leave the details for later.

Say this doesn’t work either. The attention is just not coming back. So here’s your next option:

  • Stop talking.

Crazy, right? But no, just stop talking for a second. Then ask – do you have any questions about (something specific)? Or – is this a good time for this meeting? I know you are very busy, we can reschedule if that’s better for you. Engage your listener directly and get them to input – give them the opportunity to ask a question that might be the source of their attention drift – or to be honest and say “this is not for us”. Recently a start up friend of mine was pitching at an accelerator. Several of the listeners were texting. My friend labored on anyway, humiliated and unsure of what to do. I say – call them on it. “Is this a good time?” Get them to either say no, it’s not and reschedule OR to say look, yeah, this is not for us. To which you then…

  • Ask your listener to do some talking.

Meaning – ask them – so what is it you are looking for, exactly? Oh you already have an app or a script or an innovation similar to this one? That’s funny because MY pitch is BETTER and here’s why. This requires some thinking on your feet. But really, you already know your pitch inside and out – and you are sitting in this meeting which tells me you’ve already had the passion and the commitment to get to this point, so I have to believe that you really do believe YOUR pitch IS better than others, no? And I know you’ve done your homework – you are aware of other similar story ideas or innovations. So you know the difference between your pitch and another one. This is the time to trot those differences out. Now.

Do not go easily into the night. But don’t be a rude freak either. If your listener leaves you an opening – any opening – take it. Grab an opportunity to keep pitching and to tailor that continuation to the reason (if you got it out of them) that your listener began to tune out. If your listener is emphatically done with the meeting, thank them politely with a big smile and make your exit gracefully. Don’t let them waste anymore of your time.

That’s right – YOUR time. Because you’ve got stuff to do. You’re going to get out of there and go over your meeting and try to rethink what didn’t go so well. You’ll do some tweaking, get some advice and go right back to lining up more meetings.

 

 

 

 

Closing the Gap in Israeli/American Business Meetings

If you’ve traveled at all, even a little, you know that people are different in different parts of the world. As an American living abroad, I have never felt more keenly aware of my Americanness.

Here’s the thing about Americans: we really, really, really like and enjoy being friendly and polite and casual. We like it. It’s important to us. We like to exchange pleasantries and make small talk. We take our time to get to the point. We think as we talk, we are sizing you up even during the small talk. We like to think on our feet as the situation evolves.

Here’s the thing about Israelis: we really, really, really like to get to the point and quickly. We don’t have a lot of time or patience to waste time. We can be friendly and make small talk after the business is done. To an Israeli, small talk about family, etc., means an actual connection is already there. Because some kind of a transaction happened first. Now we can be friends. But business first.

There is a saying about Israelis – they will run you over with their car, then back up and take you to the hospital. There is another saying about Israelis – once an Israeli is your friend? You have a friend for LIFE.

Americans, just like our sprawling landscape, are a bit more nomadic socially. Connections made can and do fade over time. Friends can sometimes come and go.

Both approaches can be explained by history, geography, social norms, etc. but the bottom line is that neither approach is right or wrong – but they can be misconstrued.

In Israel, I often hear Israelis say that they think Americans are “fake” or “hypocritical”. And I often hear Americans say that Israelis are “rude” or “pushy”.

Americans value casual friendliness and Israelis value directness. Even a moment to think about the vast geography and easier, less threatened life in America shows one how Americans come by their casual manner. A quick look at the geography, history and political issues in Israel shows one how getting things done quickly and efficiently FIRST serves Israelis better. You don’t have to be Margaret Meade to see how each culture is different.

But when you put an American and an Israeli together – especially in business – sparks can fly. And yet of course there are strong business connections between the US and Israel and both parties admire one another greatly.

If you are an Israeli and you are in a business situation with an American, you have to remember to slow down and let the small talk happen. We Americans really like those pleasantries. It’s what we do. We will also be very friendly and warm about your idea – even if we aren’t going to act on it. Because we really value being friendly and warm no matter what.

If you are an American in a business meeting with an Israeli, you may find yourself feeling a bit like the picture below – whoa – blown away. Because Israelis really value efficiency and directness. Which can make an American feel a bit uncomfortable. maxell

So how do you read each other in these situations? Both Americans and Israelis would do well to take one step toward one another and know ahead of time the different values. Israelis see friendly small talk as a genuine, if not intimate expression of real friendship. Americans see this as standard behavior but not an indication of any kind of commitment.

As an American-Israeli, I can see how American friendliness might be construed as insincerity – but it’s not. It’s something we like to do and we are being authentic. And I can see how Israeli directness can be seen as pushy and rude – but it’s not, it’s efficient and focused. Cultural relativism, friends, it’s important.

So – if you are in an Israeli in a business meeting with an American, trying very hard to read the American through the friendliness – how do you know whether they are in fact serious about you and your business? flag confused

You know they are serious when the friendliness falls away a little bit and becomes more direct, and when they actually take an action step right in the moment. When they set up another meeting, make a phone call or otherwise take and share information. The handshake and back clapping that comes with many of these meetings is no indication of seriousness but rather of business brotherliness.

Beyond that – how do you really know whether an excited, American, friendly, yes yes yes! is going to actually result in business? You don’t. Not until you on the receiving end of a solid action step in very short order – the next couple of days.

Don’t mistake, resent or misconstrue American friendliness. Take it at face value, enjoy it, be friendly back! But do not confuse this with serious business interest until or unless you have an actual move that backs that up.

When you leave the meeting with the American business person, go out with a big smile and the confidence you came in with and also let them know that you have several other meetings you are taking – because you do – and that you are continuing on with those meetings as scheduled. If this particular business person is seriously interested, he or she will jump to get to your first. It’s called applying a little bit of pressure – a standard business move. But the thing is, you ARE being perfectly sincere. You do have other meetings lined up.

So let’s recap:

ONE

Be your proud Israeli self, the person you are taking a meeting with knows you are Israeli, just slow down a bit and allow for more small talk than you normally would in Israel. Relax. This is one of many meetings. Believe me, what you have to offer is very valuable and Americans are aware of and interested in your Israeli efficiency and candor.

TWO

Reading social signals like smiling, small talk and a casual dress and manner is easy: take it only at face value.  Americans like to be friendly. It’s the way we are. In a way, and this sounds counter-intuitive – it’s not personal. (And ditto for you American business people; the Israeli directness – it’s not personal.)

THREE

None of this meeting meant anything at all unless you actually receive a phone call, email or some kind of follow up with concrete action steps outlined. Don’t be offended, it’s just business. A small bite on the fishing line doesn’t mean anything until you reel the fish in. Each meeting is a chance for you to sharpen your American social skills. It’s like falling in love – you’ll know it when it’s the real thing.

 

 

 

 

Social Green Lights

skepticalIs the woman on the left interested in what you are saying? Or is she skeptical?

How can you tell?


 

I find that very often creatives live very much inside of their own heads.  WE know what we are doing and creating and thinking about.  But sometimes we are called upon to explain it to someone else.

For most creatives, myself included, translating complicated stories or projects or technologies to someone else is really a challenge.

But we labor under an assumption and that assumption is that we will be doing all the talking.  Read “Death to the Elevator Pitch’ for more on that. 

But – how do you know whether your listener is interested? How do you know when you should pause, slow down or maybe even stop explaining?

You must be an observer of social signals – of social green and red lights.

Red Lights are things like:

  • A loss of eye contact – with you or even in your general direction, that lasts for more than a few seconds.
  • A distinct lack of questions or comments about what you are saying.
  • Body language: is your listener leaning away from you? Do they have his or her arms over their chest? Are they shifting in their seat frequently?

Your listener is disengaged. Maybe completely – they just don’t like your idea. Or maybe because you have momentarily confused them or lost their interest.

So what do you do? How do you reverse the situation?

Be observant. Notice that the level of engagement has changed. Slow down, change it up and ask a question like:

-Does that make sense to you?

-Do you have any questions?

Or you might shift to a different focus of your story or project, you might compare it to something the listener is already familiar with, you might say:

-in Taken, when Liam Neeson turns the tables on the kidnappers, I really want to use that dynamic in my story because….

or

-in the same way that Twitter started small and was a strange innovation that surprised everybody, I want to…

Now you have introduced a new element, something that your listener can possibly comment on or relate to.

If you see a red light, a change in the engagement of your listener, as subtle as body language or as overt as eye contact, see this as an opportunity to get your listener back on the page by asking a question and engaging him or her in the conversation. Does he or she use Twitter? Wasn’t Taken an exciting film? Change it up and renew the engagement before proceeding.

Don’t, whatever you do, just soldier on when you seem to have lost the interest or engagement of your listener.

Green Lights are things like:

  • Leaning toward you, elbows on his or her desk (or the bar. it happens.)
  • Making and maintaining eye contact.
  • Facial expressions that shift like smiling, frowning, or a questioning look.

Most of us know exactly what it feels and looks like when we have lost somebody’s attention. It’s the same set of signals whether it is in your personal life or in business. When it comes to connecting, the two aren’t really that different.

In acting and in writing we know that characters always have an agenda. They want something. So do people in actual life. Whether what they want is to marry, or date or buy a new car or get groceries. Life is transactional.

Your listener in a business situation wants something too. A deal. A new project. For your project to be their money-making success.

Use the same social and conversational skills in business that you do in your normal life. Okay okay so you won’t be wearing flip-flops and a tee shirt but you are in a transactional exchange. Is your listener interested? Would they like to hear more? If they seem not to be, can you swiftly change that by changing up what you are saying and moving on to a point of greater interest?

Or is it time to gracefully wrap it up and try again another day?

Know your social skills and presenting your pitch, idea or project will be easy.

Read More On Facial Expressions and Body Language:

Five tips on how to read facial expressions.

Body Language is King.