People are more likely to like your ideas if they like you–as a business person, a leader, and a communicator. I think the best way to get them to like you is to be open and honest about who you are.
This does not mean you have to hold your dirty laundry under their noses. It simply means that you must give your listeners a glimpse of your private self.
A man came to me selling Long-Term Care Insurance. He was older—in his 70s—and very easy-going. He sat across from me as I sat at my desk, and outlined what he would like to cover in our meeting.
He began with the story of how he came to be selling LTCI. His mother, a single divorced woman at the time, was hit by a car in New York City when she was in her late 50’s. His older brother was alienated from the family, and so it fell to him to take care of his injured mother.
Years of operations, home care, and financial struggle ensued. At the time of the accident, he had been a successful insurance agent for Blue Cross Blue Shield. But soon he saw the need for a new type of insurance—one that could have helped his mother in her difficult circumstances.
And so he left BCBS and joined one of the few insurance companies at that time to be offering LTCI.
I asked questions about his mother and his brother as he told me this story, and learned even more about his life. And when he asked me about my life, and how I came to my work, I was primed to divulge the deeper instincts that drove me to it. Simple to say, I felt connected to him, enough to entrust him with the details of my life.
Did I buy insurance? Well, no…but not because I didn’t want to. He suggested I buy in the future when it would be more appropriate.
It is important to reveal your personal back story with a sense of proportion, lest your presentation become all about you. But a few short personal details can help the audience engage with you and your material. And when you relate your personal details to the larger issue you’re there to discuss, you will be a more effective speaker.