Respect is essential in effective business interaction. In an interview by Entrepreneur.com, business etiquette expert Marjorie Brody, president of Brody Communications, an international business communications skills company, says, "I think the biggest thing to remember is to be respectful of people. Treat them with courtesy. If you're disrespectful of people and their time, you're not going to build those relationships."
But people may not know how their behaviors may be communicating disrespect. Case in point: I attended a meeting recently and was very interested in the entrepreneur who was speaking because I had heard good things about him. At the start of his talk he said, "I'm going to take 45 minutes, an hour at the most." He finally finished almost two hours later! This was very disrespectful of our time. I'm sure he's a nice guy, but he came off as rather arrogant, I thought. What it said to me was that he believed his time was more important than ours, that what he was saying was so fascinating we wouldn't care how long he spoke. He knew we were a captive audience, and where I was sitting especially it would have been disrupting to get up and leave, since it wasn't a large room. I wasn't really able to spend two hours there, but it would have been disrespectful of me to be so obviously leaving in the middle of his talk! If he had been honest up front and said he was going to take two hours, at that point before he got started I could have moved with very little disruption to a spot where I could leave quietly when I needed to.
This was counterproductive to his purpose, since the longer he took, the less interested I was in what he had to say, not only because I was anxious to leave, but I felt like I had been lied to for the sake of keeping me there under false pretenses. He lost much of his credibility with me because if I couldn't trust this one thing he said, the rest of what he said could be questionable too.
The frustrating part was he didn't need to take that long. He spent more time on stories and jokes than on content. And by the end I was much less receptive to what good content he did offer. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely recommend using stories and humor to gain rapport with your audience. But unless you're doing standup comedy, your speech should contain much more value content than "fluff."
- Back up what you say with your actions and keep your promises, in little ways as well as the more important ones, in speaking and all other activities. Integrity is the basic cornerstone of any dealing with people. People only want to do business with people and businesses they respect and trust.
- Provide valuable content in your speeches. Your audience will be engaged and will view you with much more respect. They will feel you provided them with information they can use, and that their time was well spent. They'll be much more likely to want to listen to you again.
I would love to hear your comments on this topic. Do you agree with me, why or why not? What suggestions do you have for speakers to make your listening experience more engaging?