Hello my name is sticker

Business people of Great Britain – speak up!

In the last couple of months, I’ve been to a range of conferences and events where audience members were encouraged to participate and ask questions of the panel.

At the beginning of the sessions, everyone gets told the same thing, that if they have a question or comment to:

  • wait for the microphone
  • tell everyone your name and your business
  • ask your question or give your short comment.

Simple, right? At every event, just about everyone fell down on the second point and, as this has happened at every event I’ve been to, I’ve gotten more and more infuriated by it!

Got the microphone? Check. Tell everyone your name and your business and then ask your question? BIG FAT FAIL!

Here’s what I heard from 95% of those who got the mike at every one of these events:

“Hi, my name is garblegarbleblurblur and I work for/as a garblegarbleblurblur. My question is…”

People, how the heck are you going to attract customers and clients if you’re not even proud enough to state, clearly and loudly, your name and WHAT YOU DO! Your reticence is your downfall in business.

Here comes a massive generalisation

In my experience (YMMV), businesspeople in the US don’t tend to do this mumblemumblegarbgarb nonsense. They state clearly, this is who I am and this is what I do, usually accompanied by strong handshakes and looking me straight in the eye if they’re meeting me in person or a generous pause and a look that seems to encompass the whole audience yet focus on l’il ole me if they’re on stage. Asking a question of the panel? Clear, concise introductions and non-rambling questions.

The stereotype of the ‘reticent Englishman’ (men, women, yes, I mean you!) remains for a reason – we’re perpetuating it! I would have loved to have talked to some of the audience members at these events about their question and their businesses, but I had NO IDEA who they were. What could I do? Go to the organisers and ask them to point me towards the woman with dark brown hair who asked about parking/NGOs/education? Do I have a name? No, I don’t! See, your reticence has made me look silly as well as you and you’ve just missed out on a possible business opportunity.
Just as a side note, no, I really don’t want to talk about parking so if you ever meet me, please don’t ask me to.

I don’t mind if you tell me your name and how you help people, rather than just what you do – stories are important. But please, please, please be proud of those first statements when meeting someone, asking a question in a debate or workshop, just about anywhere. If you’ve rushed through your name and your business, I’m not going to be leaving with the impression that you’re someone I want to work with; I’m going to be leaving without any impression of you at all!

Believe in yourself and your business

“Hi, I’m Susan Bentley and I help ethical companies get their message across with clear, concise writing that helps their customers know what sustainability is all about.”

See, that wasn’t so hard, was it? Or just,

“Hi, I’m Susan Bentley and I’m a freelance writer working with ethical companies.”

Bish, bosh, bang, job done! Say it clearly, don’t rush through it, be proud of what you do. People react to openness, honesty and passion – you don’t get any of that if you rush through your introduction.

So, let’s hear it, people!

Next time you’re at a conference or event where you’re asked to state your name and business, stand up, say your name and business (or business story) with pride and passion – they may not say it but everyone there will be thanking you for it and who knows, you may get some more business out of it.

So, what do you think? Does the stereotype ring true? Do you clearly have better hearing than me or are you also frustrated by the mumblemumblegarbgarb? Let me know @susebb or in the comments below.