It’s not hard to understand why we remember so few names. So few people make an effort to tell you their name in a way you can understand!
For example, I have attended a number of BNI meetings recently. If you haven’t been to one of these, then you need to know they have a rule that any time you stand to speak or sit down after speaking, you say your name and company name. As a businessperson I support that. After all, more than anything, don’t you want the person you are speaking with to know and remember your name and company name?!?
Rushing Does Nobody Any Good
Since the majority of people in the room know each other and see each other every week, the name-and-company thing at BNI meetings gets pretty muddled. Most people start speaking before they stand up, before they have the room’s attention, and before their mouth is even facing their audience. So generally their intro sounds something like this, “heyi’mchristianjacobsenfromboombachicken and I am here today to talk about…”
I have literally heard people introduce themselves 4 or 5 times, and I still had no idea what their name was, even with a list of names sitting in front of me!
(Note: While I use BNI as an example, we all have personal experience of this very thing happening at every networking event we have ever been to! So no disrespect to BNI or their members is intended. It’s just an example.)
Practice what you Teach
Over the last few months I have partnered up with Rebecca West of Rivalee Design to teach a class on how to develop your “elevator pitch”. Rebecca has been giving this class for a while now, but people want to take it more often than she wants to give it. So we have been teaming up, giving the class together, giving it individually, etc.
One thing that I stress in the class is that when someone turns their eyes to you, is quiet, and gives you their attention, this should be treated as a gift. They have just decided to give you their TIME and ATTENTION.
Be worthy of that gift. Be respectful of it.
Make eye contact with them. Take a breath, and speak your name and company name clearly.
I have been stressing this in the Elevator Speech classes we have been teaching, and also in other places in my life.
Comfort on Stage
Another part of my life that has been expanding recently is standing on stage in front of people and talking. I do this as a Master of Ceremonies for various events including fundraisers, memorials, and weddings.
So many people are panicked at the thought of standing on stage and speaking in front of an audience, but this kind of thing comes naturally to me. Why is that?
While on vacation last week, I realized that all those upturned faces, the quiet room, the attentiveness of the audience, is them giving me the gift of their attention. All these people have chosen to quiet their conversation and turn their attention to me.
Looking at an audience from that perspective empowers me. All these people have handed me the gift of their attention… so what am I going to do to be worthy of that gift?
I find that the stage fright, anxiety, and blank brain all simply vaporize, and I am left feeling confident that I will do my best to make the most of their attention.
And I think this can work for you, too!
Next time you are in front of people, take a breath. Look them in the eye. Then say your name and your company name clearly so they can understand you.
It is the finest way to respect the gift that audience has given you.