Role-playing is such a funny idea when you think of it in the context of business – who would of thought “acting out” a situation would make sense in your startup?
I was talking to a friend about an important meeting he has coming up and suggested to him that he role play with a co-worker; practice what he’s going to say, what he hopes the outcome will be and envision the actual path of the conversation.
He thought it was a very interesting and powerful idea – and one that had never been suggested to him before in terms of his business.
For as long as I can remember, role-playing has played a big part in how I approach meetings, important sequences in my business, and conversations that really matter.
My thinking is, why would I ever go into a conversation that’s super important and have that be the first time that I discuss or really understand the different aspects of the conversation?
Sketch It Out Beforehand So Can Create a Conversation Flow
I can’t tell you how important it is to think through all the things you want to say, all of the things you think they’re going to say – and then write them down!
Essentially, sketch out the conversation flow. Write down the questions you want to ask and the answers that you might respond with if they go down a certain path in the conversation. Writing it out is really important.
Practice Outloud To Commit It To Memory
If you work from home, or you don’t have someone in your office, or you just don’t have co-workers that you feel comfortable doing this with, then get on skype or Facebook and find someone that you trust and feel comfortable practicing with. Start up the video chat and let them know that you have a really important meeting and would love if they could just listen to you talk it through, so you have the opportunity to hear it out loud. It’s so important to actually hear yourself say the words.
How would it impact your business if you had a chance to practice your negotiations ahead of time and were able to hear yourself saying it out loud, before you went into each important meeting? Imagine the power of just saying it out loud and going through the motions to ensure that what you have to say really lands when you have the actual conversation in person.
This is also effective if you are working in a company and you’re wanting to ask for a raise, or if you are going to a bank to negotiate better interest rates on your loans.
In person, real time role-playing is critical – and again, as a secondary option, you can do it over skype or some other video chat.
If You Get The Outcome, Move On
No matter what conversation or negotiation you are going into, you want to define the type of outcome you are looking for upfront. Before going into the meeting, decide – what would make this a win-win? What would make this amazing? Write it down. Be specific.
Maybe you are looking for a specific financial number, an action, an outcome, or certain next steps that you want to see come out of the conversation… write it down!
Not only does writing it down help you to focus on and visualize the purpose of the meeting, but it also allows you to guide the conversation towards your desired outcome.
A great example of why it’s so important to go through these steps comes from a friend of mine, who did not apply role-playing.
He told me that he had called a potential partner and right off the bat the guy had said, “Hey man, I love what you guys are doing, I want to do this.”
Unfortunately, even though my friend saw it happening, he couldn’t stop himself in the conversation. He continued to talk and talk (and talk!) for the next 30 minutes – and essentially ended up talking himself out of a deal.
Something was said that the guy didn’t like, which resulted in the emails going silent and eventually the guy stopped responding.
Tip: Trust me, if you get a yes at the beginning of the conversation, move to the outcome or the next steps, then hang up the phone and get back to your day. Be grateful that you got the yes quickly!
Role-playing is a critical skill for you to apply to your business – and one that I believe a lot of great leaders do – that nobody really talks about.
I think these three tips will really improve your role-playing skills and allow you to have amazing conversations with partners, close financial deals or hire key people to grow your business.
If you’ve role played in your business, leave a comment below explaining how you did it… how did it impact your outcome? Let me know below