The secret to customer service, teamwork and networking

I thought the above title would grab your attention. It could be interesting, entertaining, and maybe (if you know my background) even humorous. You won’t know for sure unless you continue reading.

So… what is the secret to great customer service, productive teamwork and successful networking?

aie6gdGi4A study released in the journal Psychological Science found meaningful conversations (actual talking between people) increased productivity and the happiness factor – which is a guaranteed way (the secret!) to improve customer service, teamwork and networking.

Psychologists at the University of Arizona in Tucson and Washington University in St. Louis have finally discovered what some of us have known for years:

Small talk doesn’t cut it.

Here’s what researchers did to learn about the importance of strong conversational skills. They had volunteers complete personality and well-being assessments. Then over the next four days the volunteers wore recording devices that recorded 30 seconds of sound every 12 minutes. After sifting through 20,000 recordings, the researchers put the conversations into two groups: trivial or substantial.

two-groups-of-peopleSort of like what we do every time we’re talking with someone – right?!

They concluded that the most productive and satisfied (there’s the happiness factor again) participants spent 25% less time alone and dealing with trivial conversations – and 70% more time having substantive conversations. Researchers suggest meaningful conversations breed stronger interactions.

So let me ask you a few questions:

  • Do you want to improve customer service?
  • Do you want to increase productivity through team-building?
  • Do you want to build your client base by networking?
  • Do you want to increase sales?

This is only a guess, but I would say you answered “YES” to all of the above questions. And the answer (again, the secret) is to have more conversations your listeners will relate to and therefore, listen to and remember.

In a nutshell, here’s a winning technique:

  • Keep them interested
  • Entertain them
  • Humor them

The idea is to involve your listener by building an immediate relationship through common interests or experiences. The result should help you stand out from someone who doesn’t.

In other words – they’ll remember you.

people-laughingAs an example, in my keynotes and training seminars, I rely a lot on audience participation. Not that I don’t have a lot to say (I do!) but it’s good to build interaction and keep everyone involved. I mean seriously, who really wants to just sit there and listen to someone lecture for an hour or more? I’ll admit there are speakers who can hold our attention for a good length of time and get paid TONS of money to do it. But I’m sure we all have memories of long-winded instructors at school or group leaders at work that… well, I’m getting bored just writing about them.

If a topic isn’t presented in a way that will hold your interest, chances are it will be an hour of your life that is hard to describe to someone else:

Bored You: “Yes, we had a speaker. He talked about… something… (Insert sounds of yawning or snoring).

Interested You: “Yes, we had a speaker. He was very entertaining. Here’s what he talked about… (Insert sounds of fireworks and cheering crowds).

As any good speaker or trainer will tell you, keeping an audience’s attention is not much different than doing the same during a one-on-one conversation. The goal is to keep the listener interested in what you are saying. And a good way to do that in today’s high-speed techno society is to include an enhancing dose of personal creativity to make your informative or ice-breaking conversations entertaining and when appropriate (and always politically correct) humorous.

Informative and entertaining conversations are always memorable. It’s a winning technique in customer service, team-building and networking.

My goal as a communications trainer is NOT to change your message, but to enhance the way it is delivered. Even the psychologists agree:

Small talk doesn’t cut it.

Employ these enhancements and your conversations will not only be heard – but also listened to and remembered.

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Comment? Please use the form below. In the meantime, thanks for reading and as always – keep laughing!

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Dave Schwensen is a nationally recognized comedy coach and author of six books including How To Be A Working Comic. He has designed and instructs university courses in communications and presentation skills. Dave is a keynote speaker and training seminar leader (for your next event!) and CILC Pinnacle Award Winner for video conferences on communication skills, comedy and pop culture.

For Dave’s author page on Amazon.com CLICK HERE.

For information about scheduling Dave’s training seminar or interactive keynote for your next event, or for any comments please use the contact form below or send an email to dave@davepresents.com

Copyright 2016 – North Shore Publishing

Leave them wanting more

girl finger over mouthThere’s an old showbiz saying I use a lot in my workshops and seminars. In fact, I say it so much you would think I’d have some type of ownership deal on a trademark to plaster it all over coffee mugs, t-shirts – and mouth guards for compulsive talkers.

Always leave them wanting more.

This is great advice when enhancing your conversations with humor. And in case you’ve missed any of my past articles, a dose of relationship-building humor is a great way to grab your listener’s attention and help them remember you AND your message.

You never want to overstay your welcome.

Wait a minute… that sounds like another old saying. And that one is pertinent to both business communications and family reunions. But when it comes to leadership, networking and team building in the business world, business comes first. I doubt anyone would be thrilled about taking orders from the office jokester who delivers continuous one-liners in the break room all afternoon. But a good leader will focus on what needs to be accomplished and the most productive way to get it done.

A happy worker is a productive worker.

Wish I could also claim a trademark on that saying, but it’s already popular in the business world because it’s true. An article with that title by Marilyn Tam in The Huffington Post states:

When people aren’t happy with their jobs or their employers, they don’t show up consistently, they produce less and their work quality suffers.

In one of my past articles I wrote about Southwest Airlines and employee training that includes a happiness factor for both team building and customer service. In the stress-filled travel business kindness and a smile are the first line of defense when dealing with uncomfortable situations. If you’ve ever been delayed for a few hours in an airport or stuck on a runway you know what type of situations can arise when nerves and tempers are on edge. The second line of defense is to call security. I’m sure we’d all agree the happiness factor is the better option.

Guy mouth covering

Leave’em wanting more!

It’s the same with your business relationships. Humor is a better option than a temper tantrum – and can increase productivity. But what does that have to do with our opening old saying? It goes back to not following (respecting?) leadership from the never ending and non-productive office jokester.

Don’t overdo a good thing.

That’s another old saying we’d expect to hear more from a doctor than a comedy coach, but I’ll jump on the bandwagon and also tout its benefits here. Humor will always be an attention-grabber, but when used sparingly it can be more effective. Again, you don’t want to overdo the laugh factor – just like you don’t want to be the happiness factor killjoy that would inspire your co-workers to double up on sick days when you’re in charge.

Here’s a quick story…

You’ve heard that one before – correct? And then the storyteller bores you with a long-winded dissertation on… well, a boring topic. I’ll keep it quick.

I use techniques from my comedy workshops in my business communications seminars. In both cases I emphasize leaving the audience wanting more. In other words, grab your listeners’ attention by keeping them entertained just long enough to hear and remember your message. In comedian terms, it would be a punchline. In business terms it would be business.

I was coaching a young stand-up comedian to write and perform a very funny five minute routine. After three weeks he was prepared and ready for a live audience at The Cleveland Improv comedy club. He was introduced, walked on stage and very quickly had the crowd laughing.

hand-over-mouth

Never overstay your welcome!

But instead of sticking to our game plan of leaving the audience wanting more, he finished his practiced five minutes and morphed into the jokester you’d normally avoid at the office water cooler. The best description is to say he became flushed with success by the laughter and overstayed his welcome. Old jokes, tired one-liners and random thoughts silenced the audience to the point they had forgotten how funny he had been during his first five minutes. Finally he saw my frantic arm waves from the back of the room to leave the stage.

He walked up to me after and asked, “How’d I do?

Great,” I answered, “for the first five minutes. Too bad you did thirteen.”

For his business it was a bad move. He’s never played that club since. In the business world the same lesson applies. Humor can enhance your conversations and raise the happiness factor. But it should never distract from a leader’s message – the game plan. Don’t get carried away and become the office jokester or the audience (employees or co-workers) might stop following (respecting?) your conversation. And when that happens, the silence – in business terms, productivity and attendance – can be deafening.

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Comment? Please use the form below. In the meantime, thanks for reading and as always – keep laughing!

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Dave Schwensen is a nationally recognized comedy coach and author of six books including How To Be A Working Comic. He has designed and instructs university courses in communications and presentation skills. Dave is a keynote speaker and training seminar leader (for your next event!) and CILC Pinnacle Award Winner for video conferences on communication skills, comedy and pop culture.

For Dave’s author page on Amazon.com CLICK HERE.

For information about scheduling Dave’s training seminar or interactive keynote for your next event, or for any comments please use the contact form below or send an email to dave@davepresents.com

Copyright 2016 – North Shore Publishing

Anger Management

Was It Something I Said?

If I made a list of embarrassing experiences in my life, this wouldn’t even be considered. But I’ll share because it points out the importance of knowing your listener (comedians call it knowing your audience). It was a situation when humor didn’t work in my favor.

We were in the Las Vegas Airport catching a flight to St. Louis. I was traveling with my flight attendant wife Debbie, who can breeze through security while I wait in line with other VIP wannabe’s.

As a seasoned traveler I’ve learned to shove everything into a carry-on suitcase that will be shoved through the security checkpoint on a conveyor belt. I once considered wearing flip-flops to make taking off my shoes an easier process, but Debbie dashed that idea with sarcastic flight attendant advice:

Would you want to run out of a burning wreckage in flip-flops?” My non-sarcastic answer is to always travel in running shoes.

FabioI placed my suitcase and shoes on the conveyor belt and followed the guy in front of me to go through the body scanner. He was a few inches over six feet, had longish hair and looked like he worked out. For our purposes we’ll call him Fabio.

There were two conveyor belts through security, but only one body scanner in the middle. The line was a “Y” shape with passengers coming from both directions. At least I thought that was the case. I’m assuming Fabio did also because after shoving his suitcase onto the conveyor belt he simply stepped into the line. The guy behind him moved forward and I took my place behind him.

This guy wasn’t as tall or well built as Fabio. For our purposes, let’s call him Homer Simpson. I think you’ll get the picture in your mind. I stood in line behind Homer.

Homer turned and asked if I’d also like to go in front of him. I thought that was a very nice gesture. It’s too bad I didn’t recognize the sarcasm in his voice.

No, that’s alright,” I replied. “I’ll just go behind you.” And then I smiled and attempted a joke about not being in a hurry. With hindsight, it didn’t have the friendly effect I thought it would.

If I had x-ray vision like airport security I might have seen steam building up in Homer’s brain and shooting out his ears. I watched him go through the scanner, took my turn, and then grabbed my suitcase and tied my running shoes.

Then I was confronted with what was actually going on in Homer’s steam-filled mind.

HomerI began walking to my gate and noticed Homer talking to a woman and young girl. I’ll assume they were his wife and daughter and for our purposes we’ll call them Marge and… well, I’ll skip The Simpson’s reference, but I’m sure you’ll get the picture. His face was red and looked angry as he pointed his finger toward me.

Suddenly Marge RAN at me, started YELLING and ACCUSED me of cutting in line. I noticed Fabio was within shouting distance, but Marge said nothing to him. He continued walking and once again I followed, but at a faster pace since an angry looking Marge wasn’t on my itinerary of sights to see in Las Vegas.

At this point, Homer yelled something about me laughing at him and called me an “Arrogant ****!

I stopped. It was only for very brief moment, but long enough to say, “Don’t talk to me like that.”

Now, this may sound like a confrontation about to get out of control, but it wasn’t going to happen. Many years ago in New York City my karate instructor gave us the best advice for self-defense. The first step in avoiding a potentially bad situation is to walk away. Only react with our training when it was absolutely necessary. I continued walking from what was already a bad situation and toward my flight gate.

Homer 2But I was hit with a very uncomfortable realization. Maybe there was no “Y” for two lines at security. Perhaps Fabio had also innocently (or on purpose?) cut in and I blindly followed. If this was the case, it was an honest mistake. And if Homer had calmly said, “The line starts back there,” I would have followed the rules of civilized people and taken my place at the end.

Instead his sarcasm did not communicate that message. And my humor only poured fuel on a simmering fire.

A simple statement would have corrected my mistake. But what I found not so simple was how fast he reacted with intense anger. If this type of reaction is a normal occurrence in front of their young daughter, what is this teaching her about adult behavior?

And what if Homer had turned his anger at Fabio instead of me? My guess is that he might have walked away with a few bruises – both to his body and ego. That would’ve only made the situation worse.

Humor is an important conversational enhancement to build business and personal relationships. But as mentioned earlier, it’s important to know your audience and when to use it.

With this experience I did not know the situation or my audience. But displaying a sense of humor or a smile would normally be received as a positive gesture. And even if there is disagreement, it should inspire a non-confrontational response. It was too bad Homer didn’t read it that way because the problem would’ve been simple to correct.

When I told Debbie what happened we both knew how to “fix” the situation. We had lunch and a few laughs, which was a lot less stressful and more fun than steaming over a miscommunication meltdown. Next time I’ll pay more attention to airport security lines, while also practicing Anger Management by keeping a sense of humor in case a Fabio wannabe or anyone else cuts ahead.

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Comment? Please use the form below. In the meantime, thanks for reading and as always – keep laughing!

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Dave Schwensen is a nationally recognized comedy coach and author of six books including How To Be A Working Comic. He has designed and instructs university courses in communications and presentation skills. Dave is a keynote speaker and training seminar leader (for your next event!) and CILC Pinnacle Award Winner for video conferences on communication skills, comedy and pop culture.

For Dave’s author page on Amazon.com CLICK HERE.

For information about scheduling Dave’s training seminar or interactive keynote for your next event, or for any comments please use the contact form below or send an email to dave@davepresents.com

Copyright 2016 – North Shore Publishing

A Prince of a Post Office Box

Sometimes you only want to communicate with a select few…

Purple RainI was surprised to learn the late rock icon Prince was a neighbor. Okay, we didn’t actually live next to each other since his home Paisley Park is out of my price range, but we shared the same postman (or postwoman) on a daily basis.

And it was all because there were people he wanted to communicate with – and others he didn’t.

Last year I read a biography on Prince. During the time he had changed his name to a symbol (The Artist Formerly Known As Prince) he was involved in a lawsuit with his record company to regain ownership rights to his songs. They had agreed on one of the highest paying recording deals of all time, but he didn’t see the fine print on who exactly owned what until after his signature was dry on the contract.

Prince SlaveRenegotiations broke down and lawsuits were filed. Not wanting to be a “slave” (his word) to the record company until the mess could be sorted out in court, Prince decided his only way out of the contract was not to be Prince anymore. He legally changed his name in 1993 to an unprounceable symbol and stopped communicating with his now-former “owners.”

The battle lasted until his contract expired in 2000. He then returned to his given name, Prince Rogers Nelson.

Anyone in business knows you can’t cut off all communications if you want to stay in business. Even the legendary recluse Howard Hughes who went into hiding and totally disappeared from the public eye during his final years made phone calls and passed notes to business associates via loyal assistants. The Artist Formerly Known As Prince was no different – only he did it through The United States Postal Service.

Prince 3But before we go into our shared postal delivery service, here’s a question. Do you think there was an element of humor involved in Prince’s symbolic name change? Without any inside knowledge I’ll go out on a limb and guess he had a few laughs when the media tried to interpret various pronunciations and meanings behind the symbol.

And was it creative? Oh yeah – no doubt.

It also turned a potentially bad situation into a marketing (publicity) windfall. If anyone hadn’t heard of Prince, they were being introduced to The Artist during newscasts and in magazines and newspapers. It was also a source of humor during late night television monologues (“Here’s Johnny!“) and comedy shows.

Prince never stopped communicating with his supportive business partners, musicians and fans. He just tried to cut out the negative influences from his career.

So how did we wind up as neighbors?

I work in different areas of the country doing comedy workshops and communication training seminars. In the last six months we’ve lived in Chicago, Tampa and Cleveland, but don’t start thinking we’re rich. We have a son in college – so enough said about that! My wife has a career where she can travel and as “empty nesters” we’ve become very mobile. We’re good at finding sublets for a few months and maintain a small home office outside of Cleveland.

For business communications I rely on email, social networking, video conferences, phone and in-person conversations. I also keep a Post Office Box in Vermilion, Ohio – which is what The Artist Formerly Known As Prince also did from 1993 to 2000.

Why Vermilion, Ohio?

Prince 2It could very possibly have been another combination of humor and creativity. It’s a small summer tourist destination on Lake Erie far from Paisley Park in Minnesota. Imagine The Artist closing his eyes and randomly placing his finger on a map to find an address where his record company would never find him. And because his symbol would be difficult to draw on an envelop without an Art Degree he chose the business name The Ways of the Pharaoh.

Pretty funny AND creative – right?

Of course there’s more to the story if we talk about the mail he wanted to receive (he asked for copies of Prince recordings illegally released by the record company) but that’s not where I’m going with this…

After Prince’s unexpected death on April 21st I was in the Vermilion Post Office to mail a shipment of books to Amazon (one of my business associates!). My friends behind the counter were talking about the news and I told them about his P.O. Box in that very same Post Office. How did I know? If you remember at the beginning of this article I had read a Prince bio and the information was part of his story.

Then it got better…

PO Box

The next week I stopped in again and they were waiting for me. The Postmaster had researched and found Prince rented Post Office Box 169. He had also found an article online at MTV News  confirming this and gave me a printed copy.

Since it was – and still is – only a few feet away from my P.O. Box 318 we were practically neighbors.

There were never any Prince sightings in Vermilion, so like Howard Hughes he must have had loyal assistants picking up his mail. The P.O. Box has never been rented since and is now officially retired. My Post Office pals are talking about painting it purple in his honor, but since that might not be government approved I’ve suggested they use a purple sticker instead. If we could find one of his name symbol, it would be a fun tribute to a little known fact about a well known rock, funk, R&B and pop music icon.

As an artist, Prince knew how to communicate with his fans. As a business man he learned when to communicate – and when not to – for positive results. In 2014 he regained the rights to his music. In 2016 he’s missed.

Purple Symbol

Final Note: Vermilion, Ohio also had an unannounced visit by The Beatles on August 14, 1966. While traveling by bus between concerts in Detroit and Cleveland, the group and their entourage stopped to stretch their legs, smoke and eat ice cream bars. Did I read about this in a Beatles bio? Even better – it’s in my book The Beatles In Cleveland. You can read more at Amazon.com (one of my business associates – ha!)

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Comment? Please use the form below. In the meantime, thanks for reading and as always – keep laughing!

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Dave Schwensen is a nationally recognized comedy coach and author of six books including How To Be A Working Comic. He has designed and instructs university courses in communications and presentation skills. Dave is a keynote speaker and training seminar leader (for your next event!) and CILC Pinnacle Award Winner for video conferences on communication skills, comedy and pop culture.

For Dave’s author page on Amazon.com CLICK HERE.

For information about scheduling Dave’s training seminar or interactive keynote for your next event, or for any comments please use the contact form below or send an email to dave@davepresents.com

Copyright 2016 – North Shore Publishing

On The Same Team

Basketball star LeBron James has been described as a one man wrecking ball when it comes to dominating the sport. He’s won every major award and when he finally retires, it’s a good bet he’ll be pro basketball’s all-time leading scorer.

In a team sport, being the best that’s ever played the game isn’t enough. Yeah, it’s an important cog in the machinery, but every star needs supporting players.

I’m not the type of person that will allow sports to dictate my schedule. If The Super Bowl is on and I have nothing else to do, I might watch. It’s the same with the World Series, The Olympics and other games. I enjoy sports; so don’t get me wrong. But I enjoy reading about the games online the next day, rather than losing a few hours in front of a television. I won’t even think of losing (more than) a few dollars on an overpriced ticket.

But I’ve been attracted to the NBA playoffs as if it was a magnet. More specifically, I’m hooked on The Cleveland Cavaliers with their perennial All-Star and annual Most Valuable Player contender, James. He can dominate a game, but as was proven last year when his two main supporting players went down with injuries, he needs help from his teammates.

Teammates

Teammates

With Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, they’ve been anointed The Big Three. But it didn’t gel until they learned how to start working together. No one could simply win the game on his own. The opposition would key in to stop the ball-handler while the remaining Big Two could only watch. They had to learn to share the workload by passing the ball, knowing each other well enough so a simple look or move will keep them on the same page toward the goal of scoring, and backing each other up. Basically, they trust each other to do their jobs.

It’s called teamwork. And for this Cleveland team – it’s working (so far).

I hate to use an old cliche, but there is no i in team. At work and in life build your team through communication and sharing the workload. It’s great to be an All-Star and MVP when it comes to individual honors and individual sports, but the only teams that come out ahead as winners are the ones that have learned to work together.

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Comment? Please use the form below. In the meantime, thanks for reading and as always – keep laughing!

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Dave Schwensen is a nationally recognized comedy coach and author of six books including How To Be A Working Comic. He has designed and instructs university courses in communications and presentation skills. Dave is a keynote speaker and break-out session leader (for your next event!) and CILC Pinnacle Award Winner for video conferences on comedy, communication skills and pop culture.

For Dave’s author page on Amazon.com CLICK HERE.

For information about scheduling Dave’s training seminar or interactive keynote for your next event, or for any comments please use the contact form below or send an email to dave@davepresents.com

Copyright 2016 – North Shore Publishing

How to hold someone’s attention for longer than 20 seconds

We’re traveling along the communication highway at top speed. But instead of using one of the latest techno methods mentioned in the last article (such as Twitter, texting, or online networking), we’re going old school.

A face-to-face conversation.

Looking at laptopScary – isn’t it? Suddenly I can visualize a lot of eyes peeking up over cubicle walls or peering from behind computer screens questioning that communication tactic. But it’s still an important business technique. It’s called the personal touch.

In the last article we talked about how modern technology has changed the way we communicate. For example, why television commercials are rarely longer than 20 seconds when years ago they could last one minute or longer. Technology  has changed our attention spans.

People want information now or they’ll search somewhere else for it. As Bruce Springsteen once sang about his shrinking attention span while surfing through the stations on his cable TV:

There was 57 channels and nothin’ on.”

So during a conversation – when you’re meeting a new client or advertising your product (for someone to buy, buy, buy), how would you hold their attention if you were talking for longer than 20 seconds?

The days of the long-winded sales pitch are over. You need to grab someone’s attention and hold onto it. Thanks to 20 second commercials and other methods that deliver information fast, your competition is technology. And if you can’t compete, no one will bother to listen. Worse yet, they might listen to someone else. And then remember that person’s conversation – and their message – instead of you.

There are three important conversational techniques that will keep your listeners focused on what you’ll say next. And of course, what you will say after you have their attention would be the  message you actually want them to hear:

Three Conversational Techniques that will hold someone’s attention for longer than 20 seconds:

  1. Keep them interested
  2. Entertain them
  3. Humor them

Sound simple? It can be – once you learn the proper way to use these techniques. After all, I’m not writing these articles to train people to be stand-up comedians. I’m training people who want to stand above the competition in business and education by using effective and productive verbal communication skills. And sometimes you only have 20 seconds or less to make an impression. Are you prepared?

looking at watchWhen you work in customer service, sales, education, or as an administrator / supervisor, you are expected to be informative and have solutions. But whether your clients, students, or co-workers have the attention span to hear, listen to, and remember what you are saying (your message) depends on how it is delivered.

What you say and how you say it matters more now than ever before. Personality counts – and if you have one (and I’m sure you do!) it’s time to use it for your advantage.

Be interesting, entertaining and humorous (when given the opportunity) and most people will pay attention for 20 seconds or longer. That’s longer than most television commercials – which come with big price tags from advertising agencies that already know this.

When you have their attention, they’ll hear your message. We’ll talk more about these communication enhancements the next time we communicate. Stay tuned…

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Comment? Please use the form below. In the meantime, thanks for reading and as always – keep laughing!

Musical Interlude: 57 Channels (And Nothin’ On) by Bruce Springsteen

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Dave Schwensen is a nationally recognized comedy coach and author of six books including How To Be A Working Comic. He has designed and instructs university courses in communications and presentation skills. Dave is a keynote speaker and break-out session leader (for your next event!) and CILC Pinnacle Award Winner for video conferences on comedy, communication skills and pop culture.

For Dave’s author page on Amazon.com CLICK HERE.

For information about scheduling Dave’s training seminar or interactive keynote for your next event, or for any comments please use the contact form below or send an email to dave@davepresents.com

Copyright 2016 – North Shore Publishing

 

New speeds on the communication highway

Times have changed. People used to read newspapers – now there’s CNN. Sports fans waited for late night news to get scores – now they turn on ESPN. People at one time walked outside to see for themselves what the weather was like – now they watch The Weather Channel.

And we don’t even need a television to get this information. It’s all available on your iPhone, iPad, or iWhatever we’re relying on at this moment.

Fans of classic movies know what it’s like to watch an entire film as it slowly sets the scene for a meaningful, surprising, or explosive ending. But if the only films you’ve ever seen were at a multiplex theater or as an instant download of the latest releases, a lot of movies can seem boring unless the car chases and gun battles start before the opening credits and never let up.

women-telephone-operators-at-work-12So to repeat myself, the times have changed. That also means if we want to keep up with the times we need to change the way we communicate.

Here’s why…

When the Comedy Central Television Network first started – waaaay back during another era when we all assumed the times were changing – one of their most successful shows was called Short Attention Span Theater. The jokes were short, to the point, delivered with rapid fire quickness, and were either sooo good or sooo bad they were entertaining. If you missed one – no problem. The next joke was right behind it.

Fast forward waaay ahead to today and the title Short Attention Span Theater pretty much defines the viewing and listening habits of modern society.

People today are used to getting information fast. And in the process, they’re being entertained.

There’s a reason why today’s television commercials last 20 seconds or less. People have developed a short attention span. Grab their attention fast and entertain them, or they’ll move on to something else ASAP – which a faster way of saying as soon as possible.

And BTW, I knew you already knew that – just like you know BTW is the techno world’s way to write by the way. I just wanted to give you a couple examples of what I’m talking about ASAP.

Even if you can remember when television commercials lasted 60 seconds or longer, you’ve been reprogrammed! Go on youtube and watch one of the live commercials that were common on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson that lasted at least 90 seconds. After you come down from the nostalgia of remembering sneaking out of your room after your parents were asleep to watch The King of Late Night (it wasn’t just me – was it?), compare these lengthy product pitches to the quick blasts of information viewers get during commercial breaks watching Dancing With The Stars.

There’s a big difference – right?

Maxwell SmartAnyone in tune with today’s techno society – which includes you since you’re reading this article online – has developed a short attention span. You want information fast – and that’s why advertisers (who want you to buy, buy, buy) have changed the way they communicate with you.

What was considered science fiction for most of the last century is now everyday communication reality. And what we rely on today will be… well, as they say, here today and gone tomorrow. Here’s what I mean…

Already Out-Dated:

  • Non-satellite radio
  • Land line telephone
  • Non-cable television
  • Fax machines
  • Pony Express (seems just as old fashioned as the others – so I mentioned it!)

In their own time – all were considered modern marvels of communication. But now we have…

  • Facebook / LinkedIn
  • Cell phones
  • Text messaging
  • Video conferencing
  • Twitter
  • Instagram

I don’t know what will take the place of the current technology, but I’m sure something new will make them all outdated within the next few years.

The point is that times have changed and ways to communicate have changed also.

But right now I’ll go old school and let you think about that news update for awhile. In our near future I’ll give you a few hints on how to hold someone’s attention – for instance, when you’re meeting a new client or advertising your product (for someone to buy, buy, buy) – when you’re talking for 20 seconds or longer.

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Comment? Please use the form below. In the meantime, thanks for reading and as always – keep laughing!

Musical Interlude: Call Me by Blondie

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Dave Schwensen is a nationally recognized comedy coach and author of six books including How To Be A Working Comic. He has designed and instructs university courses in communications and presentation skills. Dave is a keynote speaker and break-out session leader (for your next event!) and CILC Pinnacle Award Winner for video conferences on comedy, communication skills and pop culture.

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