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Podcast Mini Series: Episode Three – How to Present and Sell Over Digital Channels

In this episode we are joined by Edie Lush, ex Bloomberg TV reporter, journalist, podcast host and presentation coach. For years Edie Lush has coached many of our most senior clients in financial services and capital markets, helping them become compelling, confident speakers. In this episode, Edie offers tips, tricks and advice on how to be compelling over digital channels. During the discussion we talk about how to sell and consultative selling techniques – skills that are incredibly important in today’s COVID-19 remote working reality.

Edie Lush

Edie Lush, a British-American Journalist, is an Author, Executive Editor of Hub Culture, a Communication Trainer and MC. She is co-host for the CBS distributed Global Goals podcast, which is part of the ‘We Are All Human Foundation’, an organization devoted to promoting radical inclusion and diversity and fights racism and discrimination.

Edie has thousands of interviews under her belt. In her role as Executive Editor at Hub Culture she is responsible for creating impactful social media content around the globe, from events in Davos to the UN General Assembly in New York to the COP Climate Summits. She has been the Economics and Political correspondent for Bloomberg Television, a columnist at The Week magazine and the Associate Editor of Spectator Business magazine. She is a regular contributor to the Spectator Magazine and the BBC. Her work has appeared in many publications including Prospect and Techonomy.

She runs her own business providing senior Leaders, Influencers, Academics and Executives with Communication training. In 2016 Edie toured the US after publishing a book on Speaking in Public with Macmillan and creating an online Communications Course with the How To Academy.

Before moving into journalism Edie was a political analyst for investment bank UBS in London and New York-based hedge fund Omega Advisors. She was an International Relations specialist for both the Secretary General of the Organization of American States in Washington, D.C and Hungarian political party SzDSz in Budapest. Edie studied Political Science at UCLA and holds a Masters in International Relations from Yale University.

She is a regular speaker and Event MC – her areas of expertise include Technology and Entrepreneurs and the Sustainable Development Goals. She has chaired three Literary-style Festivals for Intelligence Squared including one on Climate Change and another on Everest. She has been Chair of the British American Project and currently sits on the board of the Ellen Meloy Fund for Desert Writers.

She is married with three children and loves ski touring and running.

You can follow Edie on Twitter @edielush

Podcast Mini Series – Episode Three Transcript

Julia: Hello, my name is Julia Streets and welcome to DiverCity Podcast talking about diversity and inclusion in financial services.

As you may well be aware, we have created a mini series focused on key topics to help leaders and listeners navigate these challenging times. In this mini series we went back to many of our guests to hear their insights about really important topics. These have included ‘Leadership in Times of Crisis’, when I interviewed Dr. Catriona Wallace. ‘How to Manage the Mental Health of Remote Teams’ with Andy Gibson. Today we’re talking all about ‘How to Present and Sell Well Over Digital Channels’.

My guest today is Edie Lush. You would have heard Edie at the start of last year when she joined us, having interviewed many of the great and good at DAVOS. Edie is a journalist, a podcast host, and she co-hosts a very successful Global GoalsCast podcast, talking all about the world sustainable development goals. In addition, she is also a presentation coach.

Now, aside from hosting DiverCity Podcast, I’m very proud to be the Founder and the CEO of Streets Consulting, the business development, marketing and communications consultancy. Our core role is to devise and run campaigns to help clients grow. A key element of this is how they communicate. We have run a number of coaching services from media training and also our very successful Executive Shine programme. While we’re proud to be partnering with an award winning standup comedian Laura A. King to curate improv skills and help people learn comedy skills, which are always helpful in meetings, negotiations, on stages and on platforms, we offer a lot of one-to-one coaching.

We’re very proud that for many years now, Edie Lush has coached many of our most senior clients in financial services and capital markets, helping them to become compelling, confident speakers. Edie, welcome to the show. It’s wonderful to have you back. Thank you so much.

Edie: So excited to be here. Thank you very much.

Julia: Now normally we’d be sitting in a meeting room with a camera and a plasma screen for playback, but of course times have changed. Just remind us of what you do and how you help clients.

Edie: I think, I don’t know, maybe we’re going to all divide up the world into pre-Coronavirus and post-Coronavirus. Pre-Coronavirus, I did almost everything one-to-one. I do have some clients that are around the world and for them Skype training or training over Zoom or whatever your favourite video conference mechanism has been, I’ve always done some of that, but it’s now moved to one hundred percent to that and that has taken a little bit of adjustment I think for everybody.

You and I did a bit of that the other day. I’ve also just been booked to do my first MCing job for an online conference in April. It’s exciting that that is also a world that will be moving online. What I do, I’m a journalist. You mentioned podcast host, I do MCing and that’s half of it. It’s either me opening my mouth or me helping other people open their mouths. Whether that’s for a Ted Talk, for a conference speech, for a job interview, getting promoted, doing tough meetings, having difficult conversations. Really anytime you open your mouth.

Julia: Have the principles changed? Have they changed at all or is it still the same as, but it’s now just online?

Edie: I think it’s always different when you don’t have that individual ability to see the person in the room. I mean it’s very easy, I think both you and I are surrounded by, I mean I have three screens around me. It’s always difficult in a meeting when you see somebody just reaching over and sending a quick text, that’s quite annoying. But on the screen version, it can be a little difficult to see if people are paying attention because they could be taking notes or they could be sending an email.

I think the principles that I teach people are actually even more important when you’re dealing online, video or even when you’ve got the video off when it’s just audio. I think that all the principles of effective speaking and effective communicating become amplified in this digital world

Julia: Let’s get into some of that then. In terms of tips and tricks, what should people be thinking about?

Edie: I divide communication into two halves. The first is how you say it, by that I mean are you looking and sounding confident and comfortable? If I’ve got you on video, do you look like you want to be there? If I’ve only got that audio, do you sound interested in what you’re saying? Do you sound passionate or do you sound a little bit bored or can I just hear the nerves coming through in the voice?

Edie: I talk people through five different techniques. If you’ve got five digits on your fingers, on your hand, you can use those five digits. The first one is thinking about posture and hands. So sitting up straight, using your hands for video because it comes across as you’ve got some energy. If you’re pitching or doing a difficult conversation, I always stand up and this just gets you loads more energy.

Second is volume. People think that if they’re talking over the computer, there’s a microphone and it’ll amplify you, but the microphone only amplifies what it’s given. Obviously, I don’t want you to shout into the microphone. But you do when you increase the volume attached, you do get those lower tones that give you more gravitas. Emphasis slows you down. It’s brilliant if people tell you that you’re speaking too quickly or you need to give yourself more time to think rather than slowing down like that. A brilliant technique is to emphasise more, and of course my favourite is the pause, which does a whole host of things. I think one of the most important things it does is it turns a diatribe, a download of information into actually what feels like a conversation. Even now I’m pausing, I’m looking at the camera and I can see you nodding. I know that you’re with me, and that is I think really important on these video conversations.

Then of course you have to think about your voice. When we speak like this with one note, it can be very difficult to stay with this and I just want to turn you off. Think about the whole vocal range that your voice has and it’s almost like a river, the banks of the river, in fact in my book, which I’ll give a plug to, my book, my co-author, Charlotte McDougall always talks about this. The banks of the river are the consonants and the vowels are the river itself. It’s so much easier to listen to somebody who’s choosing to move their voice around. Those are the “how you do it”. How does that resonate with you, Julia? Do you think those are good ones to tell people?

Julia: It does. I do quite a lot of radio with the BBC and I’m very lucky to be invited for a guest slot, about once every five weeks on Radio Kent. It’s fascinating because in the studio with a DJ and watching a pro at work, exactly as you say, I mean they fill a three hour show, so part of it, it’s about how they come across with their voice and the emphasis and everything you’re saying. But there’s also one thing that I’ve learned with conference calls as well is to almost treat a conference call or an engagement like a radio show.

If you’re the main person who’s called, is taking the chair, think of yourself as a radio DJ. Knowing this is what’s coming up, this is where we’re going to go next. Then we’re coming to the weather, it might be the technical team, it might be an industry perspective, whatever that is. To be able to host it all the way through as well. I think voice is one of the greatest gifts that we have, which is most underestimated in business.

Edie: Totally. I think that just in terms of sticking with this world of video now, it can be quite difficult to look at the camera because you want to look down at the person in the box when they’re on the box. But I do think it’s important to spend some time looking directly into that camera because that is how you’re connecting with the person on the other end. At the end, anything you’re doing online is about building a relationship just like it is in person. We know that people buy people. If you’re buying into me as a person, because I’m making that attempt to get to know you and making it even a little bit difficult for me, I think that it’s really worthwhile.

Julia: It’s not a mirror! The number of people doing their hair and you can tell they’re not really listening. They’re just checking themselves out in many ways. An important point. There’s another interesting dynamic which is presenting as teams. We did this last week with a client where for about four hours we were co-coaching.

Edie: Four and a half, I think actually. It was good.

Julia: It was. The importance of, essentially throwing the ball to each other and knowing who’s taking the lead at what points, who’s picking up. Any other tips you could offer?

Edie: I think if you’re presenting as a team, that whole idea of smiling when the other person is talking, nodding. If you want to jump in, raising your hand and bringing the other person in from time to time. “Got anything to add here? No. Carry on”. Or “yes, actually”. Having some signals. I think it’s really lovely when you’re presenting as a team so that the people you’re presenting to aren’t just hearing one voice droning on.

Having an easiness at which you go back and forth, which can require some planning as well. You take this section, I’ll take the next, but it doesn’t have to be too difficult. When you’re doing it as a team,  in some sense it’s so much easier because the burden isn’t all on you.

Julia: The preparations and the planning of course is really key. I mean I think about the preparation and planning we put into that four and a half hour session and then thinking about, what are our roles, what are our responsibilities? Where do we back each other up? So you take the lead on this. I’ve got a couple of things I might want to add exactly as you say so let me in if appropriate.

The other important thing is to know when not to contribute. We’ve all heard people who all they do is simply repeat the points that have been made, which arguably is a waste of time and waste of energy just in order to have some air time. If you don’t have any to add, then have the grace to turn around and say, “Actually no, in the interest of the call, I completely echo everything that Edie’s just said. Let’s move on.”

Edie: I agree. I’m really interested in this idea of people buying people. I mean, I actually wish I had a better phrase for it because it’s pretty old and I just wish I could say something slightly different. I do think that it’s incredibly important in this new era of, we’re not going to see each other in person for a while, so how do we build these relationships? I wonder from your perspective as a coach, as somebody who does business development a lot, how do you think about that with new clients or existing clients? How does that feed into your business?

Julia: I think this is really important, and I come at this from a couple of angles. One of them was when I was at the brokerage firm Instinet, I was head of sales development for Europe. Part of what we needed to do, we were going to create really compelling marketing comms campaigns. We really needed to understand what the clients were thinking, essentially what keeps them awake at night and also therefore how to present our products and services in a way that resonated. It’s all about resonance and relevance really for the client.

I created a whole coaching model, which we now do today called consultative sales. Today’s podcast really, that’s why I was really keen to get into, part of it’s about how you present and part of it’s about the relationships, the consultative setting. There’s a simple premise and I’ve never seen this change with 13 years of running my own company, which is people do business with people and people do business with people they like. The relationship matters enormously. There were two followup points that really stick with me. One of them is to always seek first to understand before you are seeking to be understood.

Edie: Is that like asking questions?

Julia: It is partly asking questions. It is always about the most important person on that call, at any stage in the sales cycle is your client or your prospect, less so you. Therefore, when you’re thinking about the dynamic of who’s dominating a call and who’s dominating the conversation, it should really mostly not be you. As sales people, we tend to be, “I’ve got products and services, I’ve got pictures of benefits, I can’t wait to throw them in your face.” People go, “Whoa, it’s like a fire hose of stuff that you’re trying to position to me.” But also to me feels like anything that anybody else could say. The key is to really understand what is it that keeps your clients awake at night. Seek to understand them first and then seek to be understood. A really fascinating way this was described to me, I can’t take credit for it, which is, decide which are you? Are you an elephant or are you a hippo?

Edie: I mean I’m thinking about that and I don’t know.

Julia: It’s all about the size of the ears. You want to be an elephant. You need to be listening. Everything that your clients and your prospects say and don’t say matters. The pausing that you were just talking about, actually reading between the lines, really thinking about what they’re saying. It’s not just what they say to you, it’s how they say it. It’s the tone of voice. It is the energy that comes through the conversation because people could be saying the right things. They’re very, very interested. But actually their voice could be telling you something completely different.

Edie: Is that about reflecting back as well, what you hear from them?

Julia: Yes, so there’s a whole process. There’s a whole flow that we follow. The first is before you go in the preparation, so either individually or as a team, is think about the three to five things that keep your customers awake at night, that you know and that you don’t know, therefore keen to find out more. Now in the world of financial services, of course that is industry dynamics, regulatory drivers, corporate change, teams, technology, risks, even down into the individual going “Am I going to get my bonus this year?” These are all the things that are keeping that person awake at night.

Then think about how do you actually get them to share that with you, not admit to it, but actually to share that with you? This is all about, as you say, asking the open questions that start to say, well, it’s interesting because we’ve been talking to people in the industry. What we’re finding today is a lot of people are quite deeply concerned about the impact of Coronavirus. Actually there are still on the back of MIFID II, we’re still thinking about regulatory change or we are thinking about Brexit. Is that something that you’re particularly concerned with at the moment or are you just focused on one of the above? What you’re then doing is you’re beginning to get them to confirm. Then when you get into that dialogue is then to begin to bring evidence, not features and benefits, but evidence to support your conversation.

You used the word gravitas. Isn’t it interesting you say that because what we’ve found is that there’s some evidence out there that supports entirely your concern and also how people are addressing it and the impact. Evidence and impact. Impact that is either changing, or maintaining the status quo, that impact really matters and of course what you’re doing in all of that, I haven’t told you anything about my business at this point. I haven’t told you anything about features and benefits. We’re having a discussion.

Then of course when you get into suggesting your solution you can then tailor it and position it in a very, very different way. That isn’t a shopping list of features and benefits, it’s actually a response to the challenges your customers talked about and that they’ve shared openly and willingly with you. Then you can get into, so how do we close this sale? A close isn’t, here’s a contract, will you sign it? It is permission to move to the next stage.

Sales is basically a journey of incremental steps, it’s just an agreement to either be introduced internally to someone else, to follow up, to have your next call to come back with something, to share something. Think of all of that as a close, and then you’re on that journey. But what you’ve done is you’ve made it less about you and more about them.

Edie: I really love that actually, and one of the things that you were saying there when you were talking about evidence and impact reminded me of the other part of communication that I like to work with people on. We talked about the, how you say it and then the second half is what you say. I think this is where so many people go very wrong. The most experienced people I’ve coached, CEOs, CMOs, somehow think talking in big ideas is the best way to do it, whereas what we connect with as human beings is stories. I’m not saying, tell me some story about your holiday, but I am saying, think about the examples you’re going to give me. When you said there, “Some of my clients are really worried about these things. Is that your experience as well?” It’s like a permission to share with you because you’ve already brought that experience up.

Julia: The evidence and the impact really backs that up. It really backs that up, it’s almost what you’re saying is you’re right to be concerned. I’m just affirming and confirming the value that I bring from talking to many, many people across the industry that you’re not alone and the great thing is there’s an answer. So you’re priming to have that conversation that says actually that there is a way and try to not to use the word solution because we have an answer. We have a response to that. We have an opportunity and always talk in very positive languages about having opportunities to address things and to make them better and to solve them without going solution selling, which can be very boring.

Edie: Totally.

Julia: Of course in all of that mix is how do you open up a conversation? How do you get started and these are times when people are talking more like human beings than they’ve ever done before. Any thoughts on that?

Edie: Yes, I think that the phrase, “How are you,” is one of the most underrated phrases in the world because you will always get it,  it’s like a gift for me when I’m opening a meeting or I mean I used to feel like this pre Coronavirus world when I used to meet people one-on-one in real life. But even over video conference, when somebody says, “How are you,” I always have a couple of ideas to say.

The rules are number one, it’s not about the weather. Number two, it used to be “it’s not about my journey” like the tube journey that I took to get to you, but it needs to be something different. Something that actually surprises people because that is how you immediately start to build a relationship with somebody, just connect with them on a very human level.

Thinking about what you just read in the paper or the thing you watched on Netflix last night since none of us are going out anymore, or my exciting news today, which is that my Ocado has responded to my plea for reinstating my food order or whatever it is. I just took a walk to the park and saw some guys playing a very terrible game of socially distant football, whatever it is. I think that is a real gift. If you can keep away from the business of business for a while and build a relationship with people before you really get cracking, then I think it’s so useful. I mean, when you and I did the coaching the other day we did some one-on-ones and in that one-on-one, we were teaching some of the techniques to people by getting totally away from business so that the whole point is you don’t have to think about, “What am I going to say? What is this business thing I’m supposed to be talking about?” And really dealing with human issues.

I always find it’s at that moment in the training when people slightly relax because there’s a point in which they realise that good communication is actually, it’s just about bringing who you really are to the table. Nobody ever asked you when you started working to hang up your personality on a coat hook when you walked into your first job, but sometimes that does seem to be what happens.

One of my Coronavirus goals, I mean that sounds like it needs a hashtag in front of it, is to learn more about personality tests and types, because I think that this is a fascinating part of training people because I know that people have different ways of relating to people. I see it all the time and I want to learn more. I know this is something that you do a lot in your training, so what are your thoughts about it?

Julia: Yes I do. I know some very good trainers/coaches who do it, but actually we brought them into us to spend time with our team really thinking about different personality types and particularly thinking about how then do we interact with clients. I think one of the things that’s most fascinating at the moment, there are arguably many different categories, whether you go down the Myers-Briggs or whether you go down Belkin or you go down other the red, green, yellow, blue personality types, is that I think at the moment everybody’s under stress of any description.

Now some people on one end of the spectrum really thrive on that. They are in their zone going, “This is my opportunity to shine as a leader. We go this way. I’m confident I’ve got it, I’ve got all of you, follow me. It’s going to be great.” There are others who naturally might be a bit more like that. But underlying that is some quite deep seated concern and both of them are entirely valid. The thing is that the drivers and the dynamics underlying them are slightly different from the normal corporate environment because for example, I’m doing more Zoom calls with people with their children on their knee, which is bringing another whole human dynamics of things as well.

I think now is the time more than ever before in terms of really understanding and building that relationship, but also having that degree of mental flex that you are working with people who are human beings going through this current situation and who may not necessarily react the way you’d anticipate. It’s important to not only consider that in your planning, but also to consider that in your response. If ever there’s a time where we should never react but always respond, now is the time.

I spent some time at the weekend socially distanced from some friends with three children. It was lovely. I got to see my mates. They were talking about their daughter who has now had her A levels cancelled. I wonder whether this is changing a generation of people who now have to become better presenters. Kids are now learning through channels, have to have arguably more eye contact than they ever had before, which is just interesting to think about.

Edie: There’s a great idea by Neil Gaiman that actually stories are the viruses, they’re the intelligent beings and they just use human beings to reproduce. So in this age and we’re all focused on viruses, then maybe stories are the positive viruses that we can think about.

Julia: What a way to end a show. Thank you so much. It’s always great. I mean I love it when we coach together.

Edie: Let’s do more.

Julia: We should definitely do more. You mentioned your book. So have a plug, enjoy the plug. Tell us about your book.

Edie: My book, which you can’t see right now, but I’m holding it, is called How to Speak With Confidence in Public and I wrote it with Charlotte McDougall. It’s available on Amazon or wherever you buy your books. I don’t know, is there anywhere else that one buys books? But you can also find a link to it on my website if you want, which is just my name,

Julia: Edie, thank you so much for joining us and thank you to all our listeners as always for listening to DiverCity Podcast.

Kieron: This episode of the DiverCity Podcast was produced by me, Kieron Yates, on behalf of Julia Streets Productions. You can find out more about the guests on this week’s show on our website, Whilst you are there, you can also sign up to our newsletter for all our latest updates.

To be sure of catching all our future podcasts, subscribe to our feed on iTunes, or your favourite podcast app. And, if you’ve enjoyed this episode of DiverCity Podcast, remember to give us a rating or review. This all helps promote the show to a wider audience. Finally, our Twitter handle is @divercitypod. Thanks for listening.