Negotiation Tip – Improve Your Presentation Skills to Be a Better Negotiator

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Often times we think of negotiation as all about big contracts, dollars and cents, face to face negotiations.  While those are all part of negotiation, it’s not the only part.  Negotiation is simply discussions to agree on a deal.  Whether it’s a multimillion dollar deal or where to meet for dinner its all negotiation.

The operative word here is “discussions.”  Negotiation is all about presentation.  How you say it, what you say, how you keep the negotiation on track.  One of the important factors to consider is constantly improving your presentation skills.  Being a confident presenter, whether or not you are a speaker is one of the key factors in negotiation.  If you are confident in your presentation skills and how you communicate to the other party, you have a leg up on your negotiation success.

Why are communication skills important and why would you want to take time to present in front of people or improve your presentation skills when you have no intention of being a speaker?  Speaking for many people is a fear greater than death.  As Jerry Seinfeld said, most people would rather be in the box then give the eulogy. I used to be absolutely petrified to speak in front of people.  One of the stories I tell when I speak is how petrified I was to speak on the phone to vendors to “negotiate” a new delivery date on delinquent purchase orders or give a briefing in front of a group.  It was awful. Also, I lost many awards because I had to go before a board and present myself to be considered for the award.  I may have had the best credentials to win the award but I did horribly because I lacked confidence and had poor presentation skills. Improving your presentation skills in front of people is another tool in your toolbox to be a successful negotiator.  It builds confidence.

The number one thing you need to be a good negotiator is confidence.  Speaking in front of a group builds your confidence and enables you to have more power in your negotiations.  Even if you are already a great communicator, repetition creates mastery and it’s important to keep taking the opportunities to improve or to share your insights.  You may have something important that someone else needs to hear.  The biggest roadblock to success is having the attitude that you don’t need anymore skills or can’t benefit from taking the opportunity to present in front of a group.  You never know who is in the audience and that one person that may hear you could be the key to a deal you are working or a joint venture you are looking for or even an opportunity for employment.

I mentioned that repetition creates mastery.  When I was in the Air Force, we did exercises several times a year.  We trained dozens and dozens of times how to put on a gas mask in 8 seconds or less.  Seemed ridiculous, like we’d never use it, but tell that to someone in a deployed location that is exposed to chemical weapons and uses the training to save their life.

I took several classes to learn how to be a better motorcycle rider when I started riding. One of the exercises we did again and again was a swerve.  We would ride toward the instructor at a fairly good speed and when we got close, the instructor would point left or right and we had to swerve.  We did it over and over again. I remember thinking that I would never use that.  However, one day I was riding with 2 other riders.  One went down right in front of me. I had 2 seconds to react! That was not the time to figure out how to swerve.  Her bike slid right in my path and I swerved right to miss it only to have her slide in front of me and I had to swerve left to miss her and not swerve too far to hit the bike.  That mastery I had created was in my DNA to use when I needed it.  The same goes with presentation skills when you are in a negotiation, especially one that is challenging and uncomfortable. You don’t want to be strategizing your presentation skills in the moment.  You want to have that mastery to draw on from your training.

A great place to go to get experience in presenting is Toastmasters.  I have been in Toastmasters since 2006.  I wish I would have joined when I was in the Air Force, it would have helped me in my dealings with contractors.  I had many occasions where I was on the phone or in person with a contractor and didn’t know how to turn the conversation because I didn’t learn good presentation skills until much later. I basically learned by fire and made many mistakes that could have been avoided had I been a better presenter.

Another great place to improve your presentation skills is at the Think Like A Negotiator Live Training.  There is an opportunity after each session for people to get up and share.  Stage Time = Wealth Time, which means the more you are on stage, the more opportunity you have to improve your skills which will improve your business or employment life and ultimately your success.  Stage time is also a gift.  There are not many seminars that allow people to get up on their stage.  This is all part of the process to become a master negotiator.

I speak all the time.  I don’t need to speak at every event I attend but make it a habit when they ask for people to share to stand up and share something because I never know who is in the audience.  Recently at a large seminar, I took the opportunity to share what I had gotten out of the seminar when the speaker asked if anyone wanted to share.  Something I shared peaked the interest of several people in the room.  Some are coming to my next training and one person in particular connected me with a company who is interviewing me to be a contract trainer for their organization.  Had I not stood up and shared for a couple minutes, I would not have been connected to those opportunities.

Want to be a better negotiator?  Improve your presentation skills. It’s a key factor in the negotiation process.

Eldonna Lewis Fernandez
Eldonna Lewis Fernandez
Veteran negotiation and contracts expert Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez, author of “Think Like a Negotiator,” has over 30 years of experience crafting killer deals both stateside and internationally, many in excess of $100 million. She’s currently the CEO of Dynamic Vision International — a specialized consulting and training firm that helps individuals hone negotiation skills — as well as a nationally regarded keynote speaker, session leader and panelist on the Art of Negotiation. Eldonna may be reached online at

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