Hone your techniques to get projects (and pay raises) the green light

Are you better in person? Your next job interview or salary negotiation may depend upon it, according to Brian Grazer, the renowned Academy Award-winning producer and best-selling author.

He was inspired to pen his new book, “Face to Face: The Art of Human Connection,” (Simon & Schuster) to help others improve upon this critical skill set.

“Living, surviving and succeeding in Hollywood, every single one of my successes and everything that gives me joy in my life comes from person-to-person connection,” says Grazer. Getting better at it is “a super easy process. You can do it the same way you exercise a muscle,” he says.

Even with all of the social connection that smartphones afford us, “There’s actually a disenfranchisement today,” says Grazer. “It’s harder to meet people, to have relationships and to advance yourself. The minute we take the micro-step of putting our phone down before a meeting, and calmly look to someone with open, kind eyes, it might turn into something of great insight or be the start of a connection, which can lead to something else. Being transfixed to a screen isn’t helping you advance in your job.”

Whether it’s a pitch to your boss or a networking event, above all, eye contact is pivotal to your success, says Grazer.

“Your ability to make eye contact can be the determining factor in whether or not you get a job, earn the trust of your co-workers, or get the green light on a project you’re pitching,” writes Grazer. “It can make or break your career. After all, whether or not we’re at the office or in some other professional context, we’re still human. If you can’t connect with people, you can’t convince people of your beliefs. If you can’t convince people of your beliefs, they won’t follow you. If they won’t follow you, you can’t become a leader. Eye contact matters.”

Paying attention to body language and reading a room are key abilities as well, says Jeanette Schneider, CEO and founder of LIV Media, Inc. and author of “Lore: Harnessing Your Past to Create Your Future” (Balboa Press).

“The key to walking into any type of negotiation is knowing who the players are and how they like to receive information,” says Schneider. “A lot of times, I’m paying attention to people giving me the least body cue, as they’re typically the larger decision makers. Quieter individuals are learning as much as they can, so that when they do speak, they pull weight with an intelligent response. If I feel I’m losing someone, I might ask a question, or reflect what I’m hearing, as opposed to just speaking at him.”

If in-person meetings are especially unnatural or uncomfortable for you, ask yourself why and realize, “If what you’re trying to pitch doesn’t resonate with you, you’re going to struggle,” says Schneider. “If you don’t have any interest in the things you’re offering, it can be felt by the other party.”

Use these best practices for perfecting your in-person pitch:

Listen actively

“It can be just as powerful, if not more than talking. People feel valued when listened to, which fosters respect and trust,” says Grazer.

Cut the small talk

“If your boss has passed you over for a promotion time and again, you have to be direct,” says Grazer. “Say you feel qualified and briefly sum up the reasons why. People decide on each other within five minutes. They feel your energy, so be pure in your intentions.”

Switch up your pitch

“If you’re unsuccessful at selling your case, you have to reframe it,” says Grazer. “I do it with movies all the time. With “Splash,” I had to de-emphasize the mermaid part and focus on the love story. Love is an essential, universal theme, which everyone can relate to. Finding shared humanity is a key to perfecting your pitch.”


“Know who the players are at the table and how they like to receive information,” says Schneider. “Show them you’re willing to show them the humanity in yourself through an experience or story that will reflect that. It will set you apart in their memory.

Don’t be desperate

“If you assume someone needs your product, service or you on their team, you may come across as condescending,” says Schneider. “Be conscientious of the other person’s viewpoint or else you can come across as desperate, as opposed to confident and capable. Be aware of how the other person is perceiving your message.”

Be human

“There’s so much emotion happening in a boardroom,” says Schneider. “My partners and I used to bid for hundreds of millions in investments and endowments. We pitched Fortune 500 boards in highly competitive situations. What set us apart were the passion and stories we told on how we’d work with them.”

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