August 27, 2008

9 things you can learn from a home shopping show



You want to see a real public speaking pro at work? Watch a few minutes of a home shopping channel.

In the five minutes that I watched QVC, I saw the host do just about everything we're taught to do as speakers.

First of all, don't kid yourself that you're not selling something. We're all selling something.

I worked in nonprofits for sixteen years, providing community outreach and education to youth and adults for several organizations. I was always selling -- I had an end result that I was looking for, a call to action I wanted my audiences to heed, and my job was to educate, but also to persuade people to do something. That's selling, baby!

Back to QVC. Here are some of the skills and techniques I witnessed:

1. The host knows her products inside out. She never runs out of things to say, because there is always more she can teach you about the product. But her pitch is not memorized.

2. She combines features and benefits: "Brand new!" "Trendy!" "Solid 14k gold from Italy!" mixed with "Make a statement," "Show your personality" and "Elongates and slenderizes."

3. She is completely passionate and enthusiastic about her products, the designers, the models and everything else on her show. But she never comes across as fake. She comes across as absolutely sincere.

4. She speaks in a conversational style. Sometimes she's just speaking to the camera and sometimes she has a guest, but she never lectures. She's being herself, or at least it looks that way.

5. She tells stories or takes customer calls with their stories. "Imagine yourself walking down the street and everyone stops you and asks, 'Where did you get that coat?'" She talks about her own experience -- how and where she wears the jewelry, what her husband said about it, and how much she loves it for dressing up or dressing down.

6. She gives fun facts: "Did you know you're never supposed to wear the same bra two days in a row?"

7. She uses humor, but never offensive or inappropriate humor. The host I watched this morning almost said, "I'd tell you but I'd have to kill you," but she stopped herself before she got to "kill" and said that her viewers might find the comment rude and she didn't want to be rude! Cracked me up.

8. She also uses self-effacing humor to make herself appear more accessible to the audience. She made fun of her unskilled use of the ruler to show the size of items and pointed out that she's getting better.

9. She explains how the items are relevant and useful in the audience's lives. "It's a great transition piece for fall when you're not quite ready for closed-toed shoes, but you still want something that has coverage." Or, "It's a great transition piece from summer to fall when you're not quite ready for your winter coat, but you still need something a little warmer." And of course, the models show the items in use.

Take five or ten minutes to watch a home shopping channel and learn from a real pro!

Who have you learned from that is not a traditional public speaker?

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6 comments. Please add yours! :

Nick R Thomas said...

I have long thought that these presenters are brilliant improvisers.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

So true, Nick. If we could all be such great improvisers, a lot of public speaking anxiety would disappear!

Sue said...

I love this post! Thank you!
SpeakerSue
www.SpeakerSue.com

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Thanks for stopping by, Sue. TV is like a goldmine to me!

Business Communcation said...

This is why I love this site. I do not even watch that channel but what you are highlighting here is so relevant! Great work again!

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Thanks, BC! I find just about everything relevant to public speaking!

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