There has never been room in my column for politics, religion, or the justification for an airline’s absurd cancellation policies. I tend to shy away from things I can’t change, and I have never been asked my personal opinion.
That being said, my respect for the so-called intelligent adults in our society is sinking faster than the SS Titanic after playing chicken with an iceberg. On the other hand, my opinion of our youth has risen since listening to the speeches this past weekend in Washington by the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
For those of you who watched the telecast, there were two speeches that you will probably recall over the others. (They were all quite moving.)
And here is where I shift to a message that has everything to do with your future professionalism. The topic is “presentations.” The message involves effectiveness.
Emma Gonzalez went silent for what seemed like an eternity while speaking to the crowd in Washington. It took most people a while before realizing what her silence was all about. It worked.
The pause is a speaker’s secret weapon in that it demands attention. It was also interesting to see first hand how many people couldn’t deal with the silence. As they grew more uncomfortable by the second they soon began chanting to fill the dead air. I applauded Emma for remaining on course…quiet. The silence was deafening, but garnered the attention of all 5000 people in attendance.
Two messages here: Silence via the pause is an effective attention-getting weapon. When you ask your client a question remain silent. Do not fill the dead space. They will soon chime in with much needed information.
You saw one young woman begin to feel a queasiness in her stomach. It was just a matter of time before she had to release the tension by getting sick beside the podium. How many thought less of her for this very human reaction? Zero. How many felt empathy and appreciated Samantha Fuentes for her come-back statement? Everybody. She was nervous, yet she managed to deliver her message. The crowd was in her corner regardless of her nervousness.
The message here is that your audience is rooting for you. They are not against you or hoping that you screw up. They want you to do well and present your thoughts accordingly. There is no reason why you should be frightened to speak in public. We are on your side.
I remain disappointed with many of the “so-called” adults in our world but I am more proud than ever of our high school students. They are our future, and I am beginning to feel better already.
Mike Marchev freely shares his experiences, strategies and observations with travel professionals in an effort to keep them on top of their game. For a complimentary copy of his 12-Word Marketing Plan send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mike’s daily column is made possible by AmaWaterways.