Archive: May, 2013

Guest Blog by Susan Trivers- How to Hold Your Audience in Rapt Attention

Posted by tomdowd - May 30, 2013 - News

I’m excited to have Susan Trivers for the second time as a guest blogger.  Susan is a well-respected Toastmaster and a gifted speaking coach.  Please feel free to share your thoughts and comments below! Susan- thank you for your contributions.  For all of my Toastmasters friends, Susan was referenced in the most March 2013 Toastmasters Magazine article, “When Bad Speeches Happen to Good People.”  Congratulations on all of your success, and thanks again!

How to Hold Your Audience in Rapt Attention

By Susan Trivers

Dog with Ears out_Susan Trivers

There is magic in those moments when everyone in the audience is paying full attention to you. You don’t need to be a sleight-of-hand magician to make this happen. You only need to tell a great story.

A powerful example of how a great story is like magic was reported in the news about Bill Clinton speaking at Howard University’s 2013 graduation. Clinton described his visit to Indonesia and a tour through the camps sheltering many tens of thousands of those left homeless by the tsunami in 2004.

Clinton praised the handsomeness of a 10 year old boy. The interpreter told Clinton that yes, the boy was handsome and that until the tsunami, he had had 9 siblings. All of them were lost in the tsunami. As the reporter wrote “The crowd fell silent.”

It’s what Clinton said next that makes this an example of speaking magic. He said to the graduates “This man who had lost nine of his ten children led me through that camp with a smile on his face and never talked about anything but what those other people needed and what he wanted me to do.”

“No matter what happens to you, it is highly unlikely that you will ever face anything as awful as what happened to that mother and father.”

No facts and statistics, no policy rants, no logic. A compelling story related in simple meaningful words with obvious emotion in his voice. Those graduates will remember their graduation day for a long time. I’m sure that from time to time, when faced with the difficulties of life that everyone faces, they will remember this story.

How well do you create magic with your stories and hold your audience in rapt attention?

Contact Information:

Susan G. Trivers

703-790-1424 1651

East Avenue, McLean, VA 22101

Mom’s Rules- a Guest Blog by Bill Packard

Posted by tomdowd - May 3, 2013 - News

I have another special guest blog post.  I’m pleased to have Bill Packard, a native Mainer, small business and customer service expert. Please take a few moments to read about important lessons in running a business and feel free to make comments.  It’s a nice touch for Bill to include it the week of Mother’s Day.  Bill- thank you for the contribution and sharing!

Mom’s Rules

Here’s the first lesson my mother taught me about Customer service.  If people don’t come through the door of The Lucky Strike Lanes, have a good time, and leave money, you don’t get new clothes for school.  I am not now, nor was I then a fashion conscious guy, but some things are very important to a middle school male and new clothes for the start of the school year was very close to the top of the list of important things.

With mom, everything was about the Customer.  There were rules.  They were rules that employees did not break.

  1. You always open on time, ready to do business.
  2. You make sure the Customer has whatever they need.
  3. Everything is CLEAN.  Got that?  Everything.
  4. Do what you can to make the Customer’s visit a fun thing for them.
  5. Count the Customer’s change back to them.  (We didn’t have fancy cash registers.)
  6. Don’t start cleaning up from the day when Customers are still in the building.
  7. Don’t ever, ever, ever turn out the lights or the sign until after closing time and if Customers are still in the building after closing time, don’t ever, ever, ever turn out the lights or the sign.

I hope these all look pretty familiar to you if you’re in business, but here’s what happens sometimes.  The business owner is clear about their expectations but somewhere down the line as those expectations are passed down, there is a disconnect.  My goal is to do what I can to repair that disconnect.

Let me give you an example.  I was returning from a business trip several years ago with a company vehicle that needed fuel.  The company I worked for had an account with a terrific company that stressed excellent Customer service and provided fuel and other things.  I arrived at a store very close to closing time and started the pump running.  Before the vehicle was full, the pump shut off.  Within just a few seconds, the lights went out.  I was kind of shocked so it took me a few minutes to realize what was going on.  I went into the building and said I was not done filling the vehicle, and the person behind the counter told me, “We close at 9.”  That was obviously not the company policy and I’m sure they would have been extremely upset had they known about it.

Having excellent, superior, over the top Customer service is a good solid position to start from as an owner, but if that’s not communicated down to the people in the trenches, it’s not going to be a reality.    And when your employee handles things the way the employee in the example did, that becomes the level of service your company provides in the minds of your Customers.


Bill Packard



Phone Number: 207-691-2659