I tried something new and I learned two things.
First, you should try something new more often. It becomes less scary the more you do it and is rarely as hard as it seems.
Second, you can cut a sixty-minute presentation down to twenty minutes and still get the crowd fired up.
Let me explain...
The phone rang at 11:10am . "Hi Phil, I got your name from Mindy at the Chamber. I need a speaker for our luncheon at noon and she thought you might be flexible enough to make it. Can you help me out?"
Sure. What would you like me to talk about and how long do you want me to talk?
"Anything you would like. You get twenty minutes. Lunch starts at noon."
Give me twenty-four hours and that is a speaker's dream. Give me twenty four minutes and my obvious option was to drag out an old tried-but-true performance, dust it off and call it good.
Or I could try something new.
This group has heard me speak about the Toy House and about the importance of shopping local. They didn't need to be sold on me. They needed to be sold on themselves. Service organizations like this one have much more competition for membership than ever before.
What if I could give them a tool that would not only help them individually and with their own businesses, but could also help them as an organization? What if I could do that in twenty minutes or less?
All I was getting was a free lunch. All they were expecting was a last-second speaker to fill 20 minutes of time, hopefully well.
I had just read Tim Miles' post about the 6 Basic Questions to Build a Speech and knew I could only make one point. I have always dreamed about being a TED presenter - they only get 20 minutes - so I figured this would be good training.
I printed a few handouts from my one to two hour Understanding Your Brand Workshop and headed out.
Surprisingly, when you take out all the extra stuff, you can get a single point across quite well in a short period of time. Was it as effective as the full length workshop? No. In the full length workshop we all get to the finish line together. Yesterday many of the participants did not finish. But they all got a map that leads them to the finish. For some people that is all they need. And for this group, that was enough.
In some ways it was far more than they expected - short notice or not.
Yeah, trying new things can be fun. Even in retail. Do me a favor. Try something new this coming week. Even if it is something simple. You'll see two things immediately.
First, it won't be as hard as you originally thought.
Second, your staff will be fired up with a new enthusiasm.
Gee, those two outcomes alone are worth it, don't ya think?
PS That something new could be a new service, a new product category, a new way to merchandise, a new social media, a new way of designing your ads, a new blog for your store, a new method of organizing your expense accounts, a new way to track gift cards, a new event for the store, a new sign, a new splash of paint on the wall, a new place for employees to take a break, a new blog to follow, a new form for charitable donations, a new uniform, a new phone message... What else can you think of?