January 29, 2008

Doing the bare minimum

I drove by a neighborhood breakfast place the other day and felt a sense of sadness. We had given this restaurant several chances, but every time we went there, the food and service were just mediocre. Nothing special. The same old thing that half a dozen restaurants within a half mile were also doing.

I can't say it was terrible. It just wasn't good.

Hash browns cooked in slightly rancid oil. Greasy eggs. "Wheat" toast a shade of brown more indicative of caramel coloring than whole grains. Lukewarm coffee (and don't even get me started on the tea options). If I ordered a side of fruit, I can already tell you that the melon would be as hard as a rock or mushy like mashed potatoes.

There are also some good breakfast places in town. The prices are the same, but that's the only similarity.

At our favorite spot, coffee comes from a local roaster known for their quality. The spinach in my scramble is fresh, not frozen. My toast is rustic and full of seeds. If I order a side of fruit, I can specify just bananas and strawberries if I want, depending on the season. There's even the option to substitute real maple syrup for the high fructose junk, for a price. I'm happy to pay it.

We've been eating breakfast at this particular restaurant most Sundays for at least six years. We've continued eating there through an ownership and name change, and an expansion. We've occasionally rotated through other restaurants, but the value for the price at this place just can't be beat. It's obvious that everyone who works there cares about doing their best.

How many speakers have you watched who were just getting by, doing the bare minimum?

They might read from a written script or directly from a PowerPoint, using a template you've seen fifty times before and nothing but bullets, slide after slide.

They might overload you with content (to prove how brilliant and knowledgeable they are), but make no effort to engage you or make the information relevant to your life or business.

They might be completely unprepared and stumbling through the talk, because they didn't bother to practice and it just didn't matter enough to them to deliver a quality presentation. They just want to get it over with.

Some people don't take pride in their work, and I don't suppose there's much I can do about that, except not patronize their businesses or refer anyone else to them.

If you're a speaker who doesn't care about your audience, why bother? Why not find someone else to cover your topic who really cares about making a connection and delivering value and giving the audience their best?

Which one are you - the one doing the bare minimum or the one giving it all you've got? How would someone benefit from being in your audience?

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2 comments. Please add yours! :

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the thoughtfully written analogy! Your post showcases the audience-focus you're urging. I'm going to share it with my public speaking students at the college where I teach.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Thank you, Nathan! Just about everything I see finds it way into a public speaking analogy. :-)

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