Your audience is ready to engage. Set the stage.
Our bumper sticker from a recent comm skills workshop is simply, “EXPECTATIONS SET. EXPECTATIONS MET.” I created the phrase after working in many high stakes sales environments and in the theatre. Our resulting bumper stickers are short phrases that we returned to again and again as the workshop progressed, and thus became the emerging mantras for this group of communicators.
In working with sales, my role was to facilitate (and I love one definition of that, “to make easy”), so in essence these fine sales folks, who are used to controlling everything due to very high customer demands were giving control over to me as host and guide for the lengthy meeting. They were entrusting me with the care and feeding (literally) of their revenue source! The role of me and group colleagues truly was to make the salesperson’s experience easy so they could focus on what the customer was saying.
Even the finest details were handled by our team in the customer briefing, but it’s hard to convince the salesperson of that. Everything from late arrival of a guest to temperature of the room to conference bridge access were up for grabs as potential points of failure.
“I got it,” I would say repeatedly during the arrival of the salesperson and their account team as we set up for customers. And then I realized that as chief facilitator/sheriff/director of the event that I really DO “got it” and can solve pretty much anything by:
- Letting my Audience know what is going to happen
- Deliver on what is going to happen
- Let them know what happened
In fact, I can tell them anything to set the stage for the event, check for understanding and then proceed to execute the plan.
The core of our “Expectations Set, Expectations Met” mantra is to say that simply by setting expectations with your Audience you are a long way to meeting their expectations.
Is there work for you to do in between the “Set” and “Met”—oh yes! But that is where you thrive as an excellent communicator, of course!
Try it. Plan a framework for your Audience. Create the sandbox in which they can play. The studio that supports their work. Then tell them. Set the stage, the stage you own, on which they can experience excellence in performance.
Your stage. Your performance. You’re on!