Are they listening – or playing Catchword Bingo?

Like many I’m an inveterate people-watcher, but as a soft-skills trainer I have an extra level of professional fascination, particularly when it comes to watching those in customer service roles.

On the first morning of our Xmas fly-and-flop getaway, our holiday rep gathered us all together, to do what holiday reps are paid to do – make us feel welcome, answer our questions, and sell us excursions.   So far he had ticked many of my Secret Shopper boxes – personal appearance and professionalism: 10/10;  friendliness and approachability: 10/10; knowledge and problem solving: 10/10;  willingness to go the extra kilometre: 10/10.  Now time to turn over the mental scoresheet page, and watch his presentation skills.

Oh dear.

First he dropped into the Nervous Speaker’s Merengué – constant shuffly steps forward and back, side to side.  Then he invited us all to play Catchword Bingo as he sprinkled his bag of favourite filler words into most sentences.  “Now,” was a regular – “Now, let me talk to you about the water.  Now, the tap water isn’t recommended.  Now, we provide bottled water, as much as you like.  Now, I’ll tell you where to get it from..” and on and on.  Pretty soon I found myself counting the “now”s with morbid fascination.  I Iost track at 40, and he was only half way through.  I never did hear where to get the water, and my partner had to show me later.  Other favourite fillers were “it’s all about the…” and “so, guys..”, and ending every other sentence with “okay?”.

The point of all of this is that whatever you think your job description is, it almost certainly contains an element of standing on your hind legs and talking to a roomful of clients/colleagues/reports/managers/customers/random strangers.  However good you are at other aspects of your work, poor presentation skills will undermine your ability to influence, sell, champion, advocate, inspire, lead, or disseminate information effectively.  Even experienced and confident public speakers can fall into poor and lazy habits, and the more senior you are the less likely to receive honest feedback.  You might think you are wowing them – they might be counting the “now”s.

New Year is a good time for a brush up.  Check out my free videos on various aspects of presenting  and then have a look at what a Presenting With Passion day could do for you and your team.

Then get in touch.