Seize Your Business: Leadership and Development In Business (Alison Henderson)

​In this entrepreneur video, Alison Henderson discusses Leadership and Development In Business.

Alison Henderson

Moving Image Consulting


Alison Henderson

Moving Image Consulting


leadership in business

​In this entrepreneur video, Alison Henderson discusses Leadership and Development In Business.

JIM WASZAK: Today our guest is Alison Henderson with Moving Image Consulting.  Hello, Alison.  Welcome to our show.

ALISON HENDERSON: Thanks so much for having me. 

JIM WASZAK: You’re welcome.  So tell us a little bit about Moving Image Consulting.  What do you do exactly?  I mean, are you going to teach us how to move more effectively or…?

ALISON HENDERSON: Well, that is somewhat of what I do.  I concentrate on leadership and sales training and development based on communication, and my specialty is in something called movement pattern analysis, which is a way to observe subconscious behavior and to glean the decision making process of the people that you’re talking to. So, basically what I do is concentrate more on the audience than on your own presentation skills.  I can do that.  But sometimes people get all in their heads, and then they get nervous when they’re thinking of what they were taught to do. ​

JIM WASZAK: So if I’m sitting like this, what does that mean? 

​ALISON HENDERSON: Well for that -- that tip would actually be a signal of what’s called evaluating.  So it would make me think that you’re thinking kind of like, “Hmm, should I buy this product from this person or not?”  For me, the fact that your arms are crossed is not so much a negative signal as how you got there on the cross.  So if you cross them kind of quickly and with a huff or kind of leaning back, then that would be more of a signal to me that you’ve closed off to me.  If you’re leaning in and still nodding with your arms crossed, you’re still engaged. 

KEVIN O’FLAHERTY: So for those listening and not watching this 


KEVIN O’FLAHERTY: -- Jim was leaning back in his chair with his arms crossed. 

JIM WASZAK: That’s true. That’s a good point.  Good point. 

ALISON HENDERSON: Very good. Right.

JIM WASZAK: Good point.  Okay, okay.  So you talked about sort of tailing your message to the audience and not just worrying about sort of presenting the same thing all the time.  How -- If I’m going to do a presentation somewhere, is there a way to assess my audience prior or is it more on the spot?

ALISON HENDERSON: Usually, it’s a little bit more on the spot.  I would say that if you’re presenting to a large group, you’re going to want to assume that the three types of decision makers that I talk about are in the room.  So I concentrate people on either a researcher individual that’s more into gathering information, a more of a judge type that is evaluating and looking for value from you -- you need to prove it to them that you’re worth it or that you know what you’re talking about -- and then there’s a more of an action hero type that more takes action or is into commitment and wants to know what to do.   

So if you’re presenting to a room, I train folks on how to talk to all three types of individuals.  About every five minutes you want to get around to them because if you haven’t addressed the commitment-oriented person, they may check out and decide, “Oh, there’s nothing for me,” and they kind of leave you.  And that’s when you feel like you’re losing your audience is because for some reason you haven’t engaged them.  And so that’s when everybody starts to panic because they realize -- they can feel it in their gut that they lost their audience, but they don’t necessarily know why.  So I try to train people to give something for everybody often enough that you keep your audience engaged.  And of course I, like yourself, I’m into interactive or more exercise-oriented, interactive kinds of presentations as well.  I try to -- What can you do to engage your audience?  What questions can you ask?  Are there exercises you can do with them in the room?

JIM WASZAK: Would you say that these techniques apply equally if you’re talking to a room full of people as opposed to a committee of three or four people trying to make a decision like bigger company, a lot of people. 

ALISON HENDERSON: The premise is the same.  If you’re speaking to a smaller group and you’ve had interaction with them ahead of time, you can go in a little bit more prepared with an idea of what type of decision maker they may be before you get in the room. 

When I work with individuals, I have something called a conversion catalyst program, and there’s a worksheet that as you’re talking to people on the phone you just kind of make little tick marks when you hear trigger language that they may even verbally speak that can signal you as to what type of decision maker they are. 

If they’re asking you a lot of why questions, they kind of want you to prove things.  So you’re like, “This might be a judge that I’m going into, so I need to make sure that I talk about the value of what it is that I’m bringing to them and maybe lead with that.  And see if they perk up.”

KEVIN O’FLAHERTY: So it sounds like there’s sort of three levels of analysis you have to do here.  First, you have to figure out who you’re talking to -- what type they are.  And then you have to know how to talk to that type of person, and then you have to assess their reaction in the moment and figure out their body language, how they’re listening to you, and kind of improvise based on that.  Am I getting that right?

ALISON HENDERSON: Correct.  It’s not a super quick easy fix for anyone certainly.  I tell them that they need to work with it for three to six months to kind of ingrain it.  We’re not really trained to be great listeners and observers.  We’re trained more to think about what we say next.  And so to really get somebody to be thinking about that other person ahead of time is a mind shift for them.  But it really does increase their ability to motivate other people whether it’s on their team or whether it’s for sales, because you’re speaking the language that that individual is looking to hear. 

And it’s not necessarily changing up your script every time.  It’s just taking the script that you normally use -- the information that you normally give to them -- and framing it as a valued piece of information or framing it as part of the process that it is to work with you.  The tweaking of it is pretty easy, but it’s that first observation part and then the last being able to the rift in the moment.  So, the natural salespeople that people are like, “Why is Jim so easy at selling to people?  Why do they just come right…?”  Because some people have a natural -- a more natural ability to take that in and to adapt.  But it certainty can be learned.  It’s something that they can learn to observe. 

KEVIN O’FLAHERTY: So let’s take it from step one.  How do you assess which of the three types you’re speaking to?  What are some tips for figure out as quickly as possible who you’re trying to sell to?

ALISON HENDERSON: Well, information gathers will ask a lot of what kinds of questions or detail-oriented questions.  They may come in and start their conversation telling you how much they’ve already looked at your website because they’ve done information on you already.  They may also -- They generally will move -- from a movement standpoint from subconscious behavior -- they’ll move open and closed a little bit more because they’re either sharing information with you or they’re literally gathering information in, so they move that way.  And so that kind of gives you an idea. 

You can also look at even things like the emails that they’ve sent you and the correspondence that you’ve had.  If their emails are very, again, detailed-oriented -- a little bit longer.  They tend to be a little bit longer in the tooth when they text or even converse with you.  And so you might have an idea, “Okay. This person wants a lot of information.”  And you can always ask them is there any other information that I can leave with you today. And if they have five more questions after you’ve given your hour-long presentation, you figure, “Wow. They really have a lot of information.”  They won’t turn as quickly either because they probably need to mull it over a little bit longer, so don’t think you’ve lost them in a sales conversation.  You just may need to set up a follow-up meeting with them, so that they stop gathering information.  You have to kind of give them deadlines to stop that process and pull them into making a decision. 

JIM WASZAK: So that’s the gatherer -- the data gatherer.  Then you say there was the judger.  How would you 

--ALISON HENDERSON: The judge personality: They often see things more in black and white, so they may talk in superlatives with you.  “Oh, I just had lunch at this restaurant.  It was the best thing I’ve ever had.”  Or the opposite: “The service was absolutely terrible.  I’m never eating there again.” 

So even in the general conversation that they give you they may talk a little bit more in those kind of frame.  They tend to, as I mentioned in that tipping -- So part of the reason why I call them a judge, not only do you have to prove it to them, but the scales of justice that you can think in your mind helps you remember that they may tip because they literally -- If you ask somebody, where do you want to go for lunch?  They’ll say, “Well, there’s this place,” or, “Oh, what about that Italian restaurant?”  And they’re constantly -- their shoulders are going up and down as they’re evaluating in their brain.

So, as we really do know -- and neuroscience is helping a lot these days in proving that our bodies telegraph more about what’s going on and that we actually believe what’s happening from somebody subconsciously more than we believe what’s coming out of their mouth all the time -- that this kind of science is super important for sales. 

So the judge will also ask probably some more why questions or a little more value-driven.  They may say why they were drawn to you in the first place and maybe the philanthropy that your company does.  Or they may have seen a profile on you in a magazine or a publication that they read that may not even have a whole lot to do with your business, but they connected with you through a different means.  And that value -- their own personal value and mission -- is what’s connecting them to you, so obviously you can draw on that when you’re having a conversation with them.

KEVIN O’FLAHERTY: And I assume the action hero just wants you to get to the bottom line as quickly as possible.

ALISON HENDERSON: Pretty much.  It’s very easy to lose an action hero by going on too long with the information.  So, the action heroes are the lean in and the lean back people.  So, the action hero is the one that many salespeople look for because they want that quick sale.  The problem is the action hero will also -- tends to be opportunity-driven.  So if somebody comes along tomorrow with a better opportunity, either they either may not re-up with you if it’s some kind of a sales process where they need to purchase continually, or if it’s more of a job opportunity, they may not stick with you very long, and they may jump on to the next opportunity because they like variety.  And they like to seize the next latest and greatest thing. 

So they are sometimes more difficult to retain as a client.  So the information that you didn’t get a chance to give them because they were like, “Great.  Let’s do this.  Let’s sign on the dotted line.”  When you get home, send them a little email with all the information you didn’t give them, so that they have some back up. 

JIM WASZAK: Got it.  Got it.  Now, depending on who you’re talking who, you may have a room -- you may be able to sort of like predict a little bit that it’s going to be a lot of one type or another.  For example, if you were talking to a conference of dentists, I mean, those people are probably going to be more like the analytical types, asking a lot of questions, because their career is kind of focused on a lot of details, right? 

ALISON HENDERSON: Right.  And you can certainly gear your presentation a little bit more towards the type of -- We say in our movement pattern analysis assessment there isn’t necessarily an assessment that fits any one job type, but certainly we have found that certain types sometimes fall into different professions because you have to like your job.  You like to stay in it.  And a certain thought process does work with different jobs. 

JIM WASZAK: Right. Now -- Do you have a question?

KEVIN O’FLAHERTY: Well, no.  I was going to note something.  The thing that is closest to sales in my industry -- I’m a lawyer, and we do estate planning.  And I have pretty close to a spiel that I could go through every time, and I notice three types of people when I’m doing that.  And it really helps me to let them talk a little bit first before I dive into anything to try to judge what type of person I’m talking to. 

But there’s people that just want to hear the spiel, and they’ll make their decision at the end.  There’s people that want to ask a bunch of questions, and I have to then deviate and just kind of let them guide the conversation. And that’s fine.  And then there’s the people that are in a rush, and they have their checkbook there, the action heroes, that they don’t want to hear all the details. “Just tell me what a trust does and how much it costs.”  And I have noticed, without thinking about it, that I have to adjust my presentation in one of those three ways. And it’s funny to hear you talk about it because I’ve been doing that subconsciously all along.  But it took me a year or so of doing that before I noticed that I couldn’t go through the same routine with everybody. 


JIM WASZAK: You know what I noticed?  That the people in Moscow are usually hard to deal with. You know why?

ALISON HENDERSON: Oh, I hear a joke coming.

JIM WASZAK:  They’re always Russian.  That’s our comedy moment.  We always try to have one of those.  So, let me ask you this question: So, if you’re talking to somebody like maybe Kevin or myself, who had experience talking to groups, you might give one level of coaching.  What do you do for the person who’s maybe new?  I mean, they’re scared to death.  They’re going to talk for the first time.  Can they use these techniques?  Or is it just try to help them get through the day?

ALISON HENDERSON: Well, they certainly can.  I would probably back them up and tell them to start a improv class.  Honestly. 

JIM WASZAK: That is a great idea.

ALISON HENDERSON: I run an improv class that’s just for entrepreneurs to get them over that fear of the 30-second speech and up -- just to give you confidence to be able to riff on the moment and not in a business sitting, which can be, again -- it just gets them out of their habit, which is great. 

But there is a way to plan based on those three types of decision makers.  And so I would probably just start with there, and we would just look at the talk that they’re going to give and make sure that they have information, value, and action plan enough times throughout the presentation.  If they’re more seasoned like yourself, I would then be looking at -- “Okay, is the nonverbal that you’re saying matching the verbal content?”  Because that’s the most impactful you can be. 

When your nonverbal doesn’t match the verbal -- which we see all the time in public speakers sometimes that when they’re new or they’ve been coached and all the sudden, you’re like, “What is wrong here?  I don’t believe them quite,” or, “There’s something odd.”  And that’s where people on the stand can get tripped up because they’ve been coached or they think they should be one way, but the jury is getting an -- their gut is going, “This person’s dishonest.”  And they may not be dishonest, but what they’re saying is not matching the nonverbal, and it can create havoc. 

So as a speaker, you want to make sure that your verbal and nonverbal are matching.  So when you’re giving information, you want to make sure that you’re staying open.  When you’re talking about action steps, you’re probably going to be moving forward or gesturing in a forward, backward kind of thing.  And when you’re talking about weighing the decision or talking about value, you’re going to tip a little bit or you’re going to lighten your pressure a little bit with your gestures to show them that this is the value of what it is that you’re bringing to them.  And it’s going to support it.  And they don’t know why, but they’re going to really feel an authentic, captivating presence because it’s all coming together as a package. 

KEVIN O’FLAHERTY: When I was 27 years old and just started practicing law.

JIM WASZAK: That was last week by the way.  

KEVIN O’FLAHERTY: No, when I was really young, just started my firm, I tried to act like a lawyer in my initial consultations and tried to come with a certain level of gravitas, and my sales technique immensely improved -- it was like a light switch --once I stopped trying to do that. Once I just started -- “This is who I am.  I’m going to be a down to earth guy and not try to speak in legalese.”

And I think that’s something of what you’re saying: being comfortable in your own skin and not trying to be something you’re not.  Maybe I’m misreading what you’re saying.

ALISON HENDERSON: Right.  Well, and that’s why branding is so important.  I mean, I’m sure you’ve had people on here that have talked about branding and authenticity and that kind of thing.  So many people take leaps and bounds when they connect who they are, and they’re not only spouting kind of like company jargon.  And sometimes that’s the way it is sort of taught.  This is the script; this is the way you do it.  But you need to find a way to make your own.  Even if it’s somebody else’s language, how are you going to add your own story or add your own bits of pieces of yourself? 

It’s great to ask your friends honestly.  Because they’ll probably be blunt with you, and say, “Okay, there’s this weird thing that you do.  I don’t know.  When you present this tick comes out, and you start to blink extra or you twirl your hair.”  These subconscious things that we don’t realize that we’re doing.  Those kinds of things can be super helpful -- or somebody else the office. 

If you give a presentation just to your little group, maybe even ask them afterwards did you feel like the person that was talking to you was the same person that’s sitting next to you now within reason.  We have a little bit of our presentation self obviously, but there still needs that authentic bit coming in.  And you’ll be so much happier and really your sales will grow as soon as you just let it go and be authentic.

JIM WASZAK: What strikes me is that this is almost like a life skill, because anything you’re doing, you kind of have to reach your audience, whether it’s your spouse, or you’re buying a car, or whatever.  I mean, being able to make your points in a way that your audience gets it is critical. 

ALISON HENDERSON: It’s great.  It works in your personal and professional life absolutely.  And that’s one of things that I usually slip in there in my sales conversation, especially when it talks about their assessment of their own decision making process.  You make the decision the same whether you’re in a grocery store or whether you’re buying a house.  The actual process is the same.  So it really can be beneficial, and once you understand your own, you start to be able to read other people as well and realize the type of decision maker they are and how you could be communicating with them. 

KEVIN O’FLAHERTY: So before we let you go, what are some body language tips?  Because that’s always kind of fun.  What are some things I can read from someone’s body language in the moment?

ALISON HENDERSON: One of the biggest tips I think I can tell everyone is just to stand still more than you think that you perhaps should.  We call it, in theater terms, we call it grounding yourself.  Because I was a theater major too, so I always blend my theater and my business sense together.  But really just standing with your feet underneath your hips and then your shoulders above like in good posture.  So many people have poor posture these days with doing computers and texting and everything. Just sit up straight and hold your ground.  Don’t necessarily feel like you have to wander a whole lot.  There’s a lot of people that that nervous energy come out in their feet, and they wander around when their presenting and it needs to look a little bit purposeful. 

JIM WASZAK: It’s kind of interesting that you say that.  We had a guests on a couple months ago who was telling me that children born since 2000 are going to be the first generation that has a shorter life expectancy than their parents, and it’s because of all this -- we’re always in this hunched over position.  It’s just not really healthy. 

ALISON HENDERSON: There’s lot of ramifications, I think, of the technology age that we haven’t even started to get into yet.  So, the idea of face-to-face communication is still a big deal.  And people should be paying attention to it.

JIM WASZAK: Well, a lot of the young people don’t.

​ALISON HENDERSON:  And now that so many things are coming -- even telecommunicating with all the live kind of Facetime calls and things. There’s even something to your face in facial expressions and things to learn too.  So we’re kind of going backwards in a weird way to that face-to-face, but yet it’s through a screen.  So what is that?  What does that say? 

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In our weekly business podcast & videocast Bryan McDonald of On Purpose Growth and Kevin O"Flaherty of O’Flaherty Law delve into the mind of a successful business owner to discuss lessons that he or she has learned in the course of business so that our viewers and listeners can gain from his or hear experience. 
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