Public Speaking As Customer Service by Peter Dhu

When we stand up to speak, we are in fact serving our audience, our clients our tribe. People come to listen to us because we have information and knowledge that they need or solutions and experience in solving a problem that they have. Therefore, we are serving our customers, clients or community.

But do we serve them well. And do we come from a customer service mindset. Do we prepare them before hand with good preparation processes and information? Do we serve them well after our speech, workshop, or presentation? Do we follow up and check in to see how things are going?

I think one of the mistakes that people adopt when they are asked to speak or present, is the idea that their presentation is a single event. That all you need to do is turn up, present and then that is that. Job complete.

I recently brought a new car. I shopped around, compared prices, went to different car yards and in the end, I brought a car from a caryard that I visited 3 times. Rob was the salesperson and he was highly informative and new his stuff, with a soft sell style and no pressure. Each of the 3 times I walked in he greeted me and asked if I had found what I was looking for and if he could help me. I brought a car of Rob.

Last week I took the car back for a service (some teething issues) and had to wait around. I saw Rob and I said hello and asked how he was going. His response was that of little interest and he went straight back to his newspaper. I guess he had made the sale and there was no need to spend any extra time with me.

I think we often apply the same mode of customer service as speakers. We arrive, we speak, train, or facilitate and we leave, thinking the job is done. Great customer service occurs before, during and after the sale with follow up, support, feedback, and regular check-ins. Now I know you have not sold a car, but I think good customer service should apply to those of you who speak, facilitate and train regularly and also for those who are the occasional presenter or trainer.

Great customer feedback should start with taking a comprehensive brief on the job and doing an audience audit. It should be preparing well before the event and arriving early on the day. It should meet the audience needs and where possible exceeding their expectations. It would generally mean staying back and answering questions, if needed, after the event. And then post event, have a sequence of follow ups that adds value to your presentation and check-ins to see if there are any additional needs or supports that you can offer your audience.

As you move forward can I suggest that you (and I) take a more customer focused approach to every presentation and workshop that we run or are involved in.

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