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How to stop your business being the dull after dinner speaker

By Karen Nixon

This week, at the annual Chamber of Commerce dinner, I had the pleasure of hearing Gyles Brandreth give the after dinner speech. If you haven’t had the opportunity to hear him speak, I would thoroughly recommend it – and judging by the standing ovation he received from the 600+ audience, I wasn’t the only one thinking that.
 
So what was it that made him so great?  As a writer, broadcaster and former MP he certainly had plenty of material to make for a very entertaining half hour but, for me, what really set him apart was that he followed one of the golden rules of great communication: know your audience.
 
It’s obvious, isn’t it? But so many people – and businesses – just don’t do it. They think they know their audience because they did some research ten years ago. Or they think they know their audience because they know their business.
 
The truth is, a lot of business communication is very ‘me, me, me’. But believe me, as soon as you stop thinking ‘what do I want to tell you’ and instead think ‘what do you want to hear’, the better your ‘after dinner speech’ (or sales/marketing/PR pitch) will be.
 
In Gyles’ case, it was carefully noted stories gleaned during pre-dinner conversation that earned him his well-deserved standing ovation. Nobody was above suspicion, and topical references to everyone from the chamber president, the leader of the council and high profile regional business leaders were cleverly woven into a speech that had people rolling in the aisles, banging the tables and wiping tears from their eyes.
 
So this week, think long and hard about what is going to strike a chord with the people you communicate with. The right message, delivered to the right people, in the right way is what will earn you a standing ovation from the people who matter to your business, and get them telling the people they meet how great you are.
 
    
 
The Partners Group

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