The talking pad
Zig Ziglar taught me about the most powerful way to use a yellow legal pad. He calls it a "talking pad."
When you're in a small meeting (you and one or two other people) it's awkward to use a laptop or Powerpoint, because it destroys the intimacy of the discussion. Basically, it says, "I'm going to talk to the screen and you can watch, okay?"
The alternative is to use a thick pen or marker and a legal pad.
Whenever you mention a number or make an assertion or promise, write it down. The act of writing is a verb, it's the process of putting it on the page that underlines what you've said, that highlights the moment. You're also creating a record of what you said, which emphasizes that you're not a weasel.
Salespeople can use this technique as well. Let's say you're trying to sell energy-efficient windows. They cost $800 each, the person needs 30, so you're trying to make a $24,000 sale. That's a big deal, right?
Start by writing these facts down.
Then, working with the person you're sitting with, identify how much is going to be saved every day. Not your opinion, but their estimate based on their energy bill and comparable homes. Agree on a number. Write it down.
Cut it in half. Now it's truly a realistic, conservative estimate. Write it down.
Multiply it by the number of windows. Write it down. People hate math.
Now, pull out your calculator and figure out the cost of the monthly financing. Oh! The cost is way lower than the amount saved. The windows are free.
The talking pad makes the sale. It builds credibility and helps you run the meeting.