You can’t bore people into buying

public-speaking-firstpointI attended a business event recently, hosted by a hotel chain, and as usual a representative of the host company was given a platform to address the audience. It’s a common scenario and one which presents both a dilemma and an opportunity for the speaker. The opportunity is clear – a captive audience of 80 business people, all of whom represent a potential source of business. The dilemma is that an invitation to speak in front of an audience puts many people into a state of fear and confusion!

On this occasion the speaker (a member of the chain’s senior management) extolled the virtues of his excellent meetings and conference facility. He had a perfectly good speaking voice and didn’t seem overly nervous. But he blew it. He’d lost the audience after about 45 seconds and essentially spent the 15 minute slot reading out the contents of the company’s web site. It wasn’t schoolboy stuff – he did make regular eye contact with the audience – but it was clearly read from a script.

But more than that, he blew the opportunity to wow the visitors to his venue. He played it safe and spoke about the facilities. I’m sure he’s well paid but there really was no need for him to be there at all. He might just have projected the home page of his web site and put on some nice background music. It was the lack of creativity and thought that really struck me – and it got me thinking about how he might have done better. So here’s a suggestion…

Everyone has a story to tell, something interesting in their background, their family, their outside interests. A good journalist who spent a day with the staff at the hotel would uncover some amazing things. The hotel boss should know these things about his employees. So start with a picture of STAFF MEMBER ONE and explain why they’re amazing – not in the workplace (we assume they are!) but because of something outside. Maybe Josie the Receptionist lost her mother to cancer and started up a charity, walking around Britain to raise £50,000? Next comes Pierre, the Bar Manager, whose passion is for cinema. He started a film appreciation club for local people and recently won an award for his contribution to the local community, handed to him by Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle (it’s on display behind the bar). And then there’s Barbara who works part-time in accounts. She overcame a bought of depression following her divorce to become a part-time stand-up comedian, and helps others regain their confidence through the art of comedy.

So the new version might go as follows…

“in the *** hotel group, we only employ exceptional people. I can tell you about the facilities here but you can see they’re really nice – and of course it’s all on our web site anyway. But that’s the hardware. It’s the software that really makes us different – and by that I mean the people. It’s the people who deal with your enquiry, that spend time with you to understand your needs, that work with you to produce an event or service that gives you the outcome you’re looking for. It’s our people who ensure your room is ready and who anticipate problems before they arise so your delegates feel well looked after. It’s our people who call you up afterwards to ask if everything went well for you, and how we can make it even better in future.

We only hire exceptional people because they’re the ones that look after you and your delegates. We only hire people who care, people like Josie, Pierre and Barbara who show passion for everything they do. We only hire people who like people.

So I hope you’ve enjoyed your visit today and if you’d like to get to know us a bit better, do have a chat with us before you go. Thank you.”

On the TV show Mock the Week there’s a section called “things you wouldn’t expect a *** to say.” I think you could include this story and insert Hotel Manager in the above. But wouldn’t it be a refreshing change?

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