Craft Your Presentation like a FBI Interrogation

I first stumbled on to Reid interrogation technique in Jo Nesbø´s book Headhunters, which gave the impression that this method is also used in job interviews. The technique is originally used in interrogations and is widely applied in North America with different law-enforcement agencies, such as FBI. The technique caught my eye immediately and I have been toying with an idea to utilize it in sales presentations.

As the Reid technique is registered trademark and actually much more than just the nine-step interrogation technique and all I have learned about it is from the Norwegian detective novels (Nesbø actually mentioned it in one other of his novels as well), you should take the following nine steps with a pinch of salt. However I still think there are some valuable lessons to be used in your presentations and sales pitches:

Nine steps of persuading presentation

1. Start with the Direct Confrontation
When you start your presentaion, go straight to the point. Explain candidly the problems your potential clients are facing. Be straight and frank about it, do not sugarcoat it.
2. Symphatize with the Client
When you have gotten the attention by telling how screwed they are, soften your tone. Show that you understand the situation, address the challenges and express sympathy. You are there to help them out from the trouble.
3. Discourage Denying the Problems
In the Reid method, this step is ensuring that the suspect does not say many times “I don´t do it”, because more you say it more you start to believe it. So when presenting the problems there is only “bad cop”-mode in presentation.
4. Anticipate the Counterarguments
When presenting a bold choices, first reaction is usually denial and many counterarguments will follow. Be prepared to answer them. When you are answering the hardest counter-arguments before they get to even asked in your presentation, you are making the opponent armless.
5. Reinforce Sincerity
After this, it is again time to play good cop. Express sympathy for the situation and ensure that there is a way out of it.
6. Move the Discussion to Presenting the Alternatives
Usually at this point the audience will become quieter and listen. You have proved that you have done your homework. If you have been persuasive enough, they want to really know how can you help them out their mess. It it is time to present your solution.
7. Present Two Alternatives.
You present two choices, other one which is more socially acceptible. The potential client is likely to select that easier alternative.  The end-result is the same in both of them: you start your collaboration with the potential client. Of course the client has always the third option, which is not to to select you. Or in the interrogation that he is denying guilt. That third alternative is something which you try to actively make obsolete during your presentation.
8. Get Public Approval
If you have gone according the steps, you are almost closing the deal. Now you should aim to get public approval of your strategy and solution from the highest-ranking client in the room. This might be quite tricky in actual pitch presentation, but you should at least get certain points which are publicly approved. This will help the further negotiations and set the right tone in them.
9. Document the Approval Immediately
If you are ballsy enough, after getting the public approval, you should have the actual contract with you and hand it over to the potential clients and to get it signed. Good luck with that.

As a disclaimer, the Reid technique is prohibited in several European countries because it has said to produce too many false confessions. So try this at your own peril. Also if you try it to someone who knows it, there are certain ways to attack these steps as well.

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