“We had a conference last month. 50 of us flew in.” A row of bankers turned to the Whistle-blower at the end of the line. “Two days of PowerPoint presentations. On the first day, after about 10 minutes, as another slide came up I thought, ‘I’ve got two more days of this, how do I cope!?’ Then I said to myself, ‘I’ll put a smile on my face, stare in the direction of the presenter, and think happy thoughts.’ So that’s what I did. I didn't listen to a single word… for two whole days.”
A while back I was having a chat with another Jack, the husband of my niece, who’s also an actress. I was joking about my (also an actress) wife’s inability to load a dish washer. I cringe a little as I write those words.
Jack said, “Yes Jenny’s the same. But then I think I could be married to someone who’s great at loading dish-washers or I could be married to the amazing wonderful gorgeous Jenny?” I refrained from pointing out that maybe you could be gorgeous and wonderful and also good at loading dish-washers.
We’ve been there haven’t we, the lights have dipped, highlighting the opening PowerPoint slide; someone has shuffled awkwardly onto the stage holding their pointer, introduced themselves, something along the lines of, “I’m here today to talk to you about…” and we’re away. The second slide emerges in the gloom, possibly an agenda or a list of bullet points. Then you take out your sharpened pencil ready to stab it into your leg about 20 minutes into the presentation.
For the UK elections on June 8th, communication or non-communication played a massive part in the result. He would say that, says you. Well this time I really believe it to be true. May’s traditional ‘maybot” strong and stable, which soon translated to dull and tired versus Corbyn’s initially shambolic but increasingly confident normal guy. As regards the way it relates to business communication, particularly leaders, then there is much we can learn.
Just as a good sales person takes charge of the “conversation” so a good comic has to boss their audience. You have to let them know you’re in charge. But clearly running on stage and shouting, “who’s the Daddy?” is also unlikely to endear you to your audience (and that’s doubly true in sales.) There’s a balance.