July 17, 2009

Wine and service

At the first tasting room yesterday we met Mike, a soon-to-be grad student studying management. His background is varied, from studying at the Culinary Institute of America to serving in the Air Force. Right off the bat, I discovered that his management philosophy is very similar to my public speaking philosophy.

Being in the hospitality field, he's noticed that many who work in hospitality are rather inhospitable, a challenge the industry needs to address. He commented on how many businesses are focused on the bottom line rather than making a good experience for customers or employees. Lack of foresight and "big picture" thinking make many companies just a place to work for most employees, rather than cultivating an environment where employees are invested, committed and take pride in their work.

[Side note: This reminds me of a conversation I had with an employee of a Nugget Market up near Sacramento. I asked if they had any plans to expand south, and the woman said no, that the store is interested in local expansion only and maintaining their status as one of the Fortune Top 100 Companies to Work For. They are currently #10. Cool, huh?]

The last thing Mike said before we left was that when he enters the tasting room to work, he considers it a stage and himself a performer. He strives to personalize the experience for each customer, in terms of tasting, conversation, etc. He considers the experience of each customer a "happening" that is unique to each person each time.

As a speaker, you already know you're on a stage. You already know you're a performer. But how important is it to you to personalize the experience for your audiences? How important is it to you to serve your audience? How important is it to you that your presentation is a once-in-a-lifetime happening for your audience? As I've asked before, are you canned or fresh?

What if, instead of just getting by, throwing together your presentation at the last minute, or focusing on your own needs for love and acceptance, the most important thing to you was creating a unique and positive experience for your audience every time? How would that make you a better speaker?

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