Man making a presentation with a badly hand-drawn graph

Source: Unsplash

When making presentations, it’s important for your graphs to be instructive and clearly labelled

First published in 1936, Dale Carnegie’s book ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ has since sold over 30 million copies. Carnegie said he published it when he realised many people wanted more self-confidence when interacting with others.

Not wishing to make him turn in his grave, let’s take a look at what is strangling our ability to win friends and influence people.

  • Using ‘if that makes sense?’ at the end of a sentence. It kills your influencing power. Stop.
  • Us looking at the side of your head during a meeting because you have two screens and you’re talking into the other one. You cannot influence with an ear (though of course active listening can be part of great influencing).
  • Failing to create easy-to-understand highlights when presenting. For example, titling a graph on year-on-year sales as ‘sales per year’. The graphics and the text need to complement each other, not be the same. A better title might be: ‘From 2021-2023, sales grew by 19.5%.’
  • Using the words ‘but’ or ‘however. Because it makes everything before ‘but’ bullshit and everything before ‘however’ horseshit.
  • When making a case/pitch/point, using too many reasons. Use a few reasons or even just one, because otherwise your audience will pick on the weakest example – and your whole wall of reason will crumble.
  • Delegation without deadline. The work won’t get done. “Sorry, my telepathy machine was in for a service,” they might say.
  • Talking more than listening. Try the 43:57 rule (Google it). It’s important for the other person in a conversation to feel that you have listened.
  • Repeating the same thing in the hope the listener will eventually ‘get it’. Learn some of the other 78 person techniques.
  • Asking a question when you know the answer and are hoping they will say what you want them to say. Don’t ask, recommend. Or suggest.
  • Not making decisions so you are then never wrong. True, but also you’ll be associated with the phrase: ‘Is that fence hurting your bum?’

There are things we can stop doing that reduce our ability to influence people. Then, we can do things to improve how we influence people. Let’s start with stage one: not doing things that reduce our influencing power.