Turning Off, Turning On

Just because you assemble a large audience for a meeting doesn’t mean they’ll pay attention to everything you share with them. Here’s a true story about how a speaker’s failure to reach his listeners cost his company a lot of money.

A software firm was hosting a Users’ Conference for clients that regularly use the company’s breakthrough applications. They are a subsidiary of a Japanese company, and one of the executives decided that he wanted to open the conference by addressing the participants.

One problem–he didn’t speak English.

Now think of your typical audience of computer experts who work with a high-end software system. Imagine their demographics—their ages, personalities and jobs. What do they wear? What kind of gear do they carry with them? What kind of attention span would you expect from them?

The outcome of the executive’s decision to speak was entirely predictable. He began speaking in Japanese, and his interpreter dutifully translated for the audience in a monotonous, passion-free voice. As he spoke, the room LIT UP, literally. This doesn’t mean everyone sat on the edge of their seats, fully engaged with the speaker; these valuable clients tuned out the speaker and tuned into their email messages, Twitter, Facebook, or whatever else people do on their state-of-the-art devices.

Imagine that. The company flew hundreds of people from across the country into the same city, put them up in a nice hotel, promised them several days of fascinating training and learning…and turned them all off within the first 20 minutes. Even worse, that presentation set the stage for the entire conference—the audience remained aloof and distracted.

Sounds expensive.

This story demonstrates what we are hearing more and more–that ineffective speakers and presenters literally cost money. That perspective comes from the ginormous event industry: organizations lose valuable revenue because of poor skills among their presenters. Attendees fail to connect, their needs aren’t met, and not only won’t they return next year, but they’ll pass that same message on to colleagues. As a result, company execs will lose money, they’ll lose their jobs, and they’ll starve, and they’ll die. (Worst case scenario, of course.)

Audiences these days, particularly millennials, know that they don’t need to sit still and listen to whatever is being presented at them. They lose interest faster because their devices allow them to multi-task. They are also much more comfortable getting up and going out into the hall to make some phone calls. And that’s a big problem in terms of training, selling, marketing and staying in the black.

At EMS, we know that the opposite is also true: great presentations are extremely valuable in terms of both relationships and economics. That’s why we’re committed to the elimination of boring presentations, and to helping our clients develop the skills they need to “light up” a room…in the RIGHT way.

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EMS Communications is very relevant to their trainees. They equip many industry types samples, each with their own culture and jargon, yet EMS cuts through it all, and contextualizes it into relevant and personable applications.

David Steuart
Quality Director, The Walsh Group

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