The Disappearing Audience

Written by Pam Chambers Be first to comment on this post.

Nearly 200 women showed up at Honolulu’s biggest department store to attend a presentation given by a major cosmetics company. Lets call the presenter Jean-Marc. Jean-Marc had flown in from New York to promote the new spring line of products (and to sell them).

Toward the end of a compelling presentation, Jean-Marc began to take questions from the audience. One woman wondered which color palette would suit her coloring. He walked over to her and the two of them had a cozy chat. The next question was from a woman who wanted to know about hair color. Again, Jean-Marc walked over and conducted a private consultation.

By this time, the message was clear: The presentation was over. People began to gather their belongings and say their good-byes. The quick-witted store manager saw her potential sales disappearing and took center stage.

Ladies, please take your seats. Were about to offer door prizes and an all-paid trip to New York. You must be present to win! She saved the day.

Get the point? When you answer questions, include everyone. Jean-Marc should have said, This lady is asking about our line of products for those of you with olive skin tones. Here is what we have for you . . .


























Should You Eat Prior to Speaking?

Written by Pam Chambers Be first to comment on this post.

I don’t eat prior to speaking. Here’s why:

  1. I don’t want to wonder if poppy seeds are between my teeth or if a piece of spinach has wrapped itself around a front tooth.
  2. I don’t want to have to leave the room to examine my teeth and fix my lipstick. I might miss an important piece of information that I should include or exclude from my presentation.
  3. I don’t want the risk of burping.
  4. Digesting, thinking, and speaking aren’t a good mix.

The fact that once — half an hour after eating — I urgently needed to leave the stage to use the bathroom swore me off that ever happening again!

But your hosts will likely urge you to eat, and they will be puzzled or even offended if you don’t. They might inaccurately assume you think their fare is inferior, or perhaps you are ill or antisocial.

I find that I must explain myself to some degree: “I tend to not eat before I speak. It works better for me that way. But thank you for the offer. Oh, you want to assemble a take-out plate for me? Thank you!”

Sometimes they say, “The buffet will still be set up after youre done speaking. You can eat then!” Call me uncooperative, but that doesn’t work for me either. I want to be available to talk with audience members, and if I’m permitted to sell books, I need to be at the book table.

Stop trying to make me eat!


Inform your hosts ahead of time that you won’t need a meal. If pressed, tell them that you perform better on an empty stomach.

At the table, join the action by accepting coffee or tea so you have some consuming body language going on.

Avoid lengthy explanations. Smile and say, “Thank you so much. For now, I’m fine.”


Being Handed a Germy Microphone

Written by Pam Chambers Be first to comment on this post.

Ugh! I was the after lunch speaker at a networking event. During the lunch hour, the emcee announced, Now for the fun part! Lets go around the room and briefly introduce ourselves.

The first thing wrong here is the word briefly. We all know that the farther around the circle we go, the more lengthy and unfocused the introductions become, and I know from experience that this emcee will do nothing to keep the comments uniformly brief. I can already foresee that my speaking time will be cut. And it was.

The second thing wrong is that everyone was using the same hand-held microphone that Id be using. People have been running their hands through their hair, removing fish bones from their mouth, coughing and sneezing, and who knows what else (some having just returned from the bathroom).

This mic is teeming with germs, and when I hold it, within seconds my hand will BURN as if exposed to hazardous waste. And, because of the lunch consisting of onions, garlic, kimchi, and fish, I can only imagine how the business end of the mic will smell. Ugh, ugh, ugh!

What could I have done? I could have worn gloves as part of my ensemble. I could have brought latex gloves and snapped them on as if getting ready for surgery. I could have wrapped the mic in a protective cloth napkin.

What I did: Theres something sticky on this mic. Could someone please bring me a wet napkin? After receiving said napkin, I casually walked over to the lectern pretending I needed something I had left there. This gave me the opportunity to wipe the whole thing as I crouched down to pluck some (unnecessary) papers from my briefcase.

The last time this happened, there was a break between the time the mic was passed from hand to hand, and the time I was to start speaking into it. Holding the mic gingerly between thumb and forefinger, I approached one of the A/V personnel and asked him to sanitize the mic. He understood instantly and took it to the kitchen.

Holding a clean mic is as refreshing as washing your hands after a morning of errands. Now I bring disinfecting wipes and Im discreet. But if someone catches me in the act, Ill smile and say, Dont mind me! Im paranoid about germs.