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Starting with a Standing Ovation

Today I arrived in St. Louis for an event with Servpro and was met at the airport by an incredibly nice driver, taken to the hotel and given an executive suite (zounds!) and a few hours later after being out, returned to discover that a wine & cheese platter had been delivered to my room.

This is a company that knows how to treat its speakers.

Believe it or not, this is rare. As presenters we don’t necessarily need an executive suite and we don’t need fancy food platters, but we do need the thought and care that go behind this.

What it does for us as presenters, as collaborators, is to make us want to give MORE.

It’s stunning to me how many companies miss this small but critical detail.

A few years ago I did an event for a company whose meeting planner had raved to me about how extraordinarily special their upcoming event would be. He told me about how we would be at a five star resort, how all the attendees would be picked up at the airport in private limos and how they would each be receiving expensive watches and jewelry as gift surprises in their room.

As you can imagine, I was pretty jazzed. I certainly didn’t expect a private limo or a fancy watch, but I did expect to be treated decently.

Needless to say, when I arrived at the airport, I was directed by a company employee with a clipboard in hand that I was assigned to the airport-hotel shuttle.


I waited on the curb 20 minutes for the shuttle van to show up, and after climbing in to the back seat, waited as the van trolled from terminal to terminal picking up other passengers. Eventually I decided to get out and pay my own way in a dusty old taxi. (This was, believe it or not, the only other transportation option available.) I wish I were kidding when I tell you it was 90 degrees and the taxi had no air conditioning…but alas, this is all true. Suffice it to say it was not a great start to their high end corporate event.

The company saved $80 on a car service and lost my good will.

So………what can you do to treat your vendors and collaborators well?

A handful of extra dollars goes a long way — and I’m not talking about tipping. I’m talking about

treating people with thoughtfulness and with appreciation.

If you have someone coming to paint your house on a hot summer day, bring them a pitcher of lemonade BEFORE they start.

My pal Cameron Herold, in his new book Double Double talks about giving new employees a party when they start vs. waiting until they are leaving. Why not honor them in the beginning vs. when they’re heading out the door?

And if you are hiring a speaker or presenter of any kind, by all means treat them well. Your kindness will pay dividends.

Who are you about to work with for the first time, and what can you do to surprise them, to demonstrate your appreciation right from the get go?

Years ago I did a keynote presentation for Precor. After the VP finished introducing me and I walked out on stage, the entire audience jumped to their feet and gave me a standing ovation – BEFORE I started my speech.

I was dumbstruck. Wow.  “My intro must be reaalllly impresssssssive,” I thought.

I was so jazzed by the audience’s early acceptance that I delivered at my optimal performance level. I couldn’t not.

Later, however, I learned that this division at Precor gave starting standing ovations to all their outside presenters. They had discovered that the more they gave up front, the more the presenter gave them.

And how smart they were.

Don’t wait for people to give to you first. Think about what you can do to blow them away from the start. Then do it.

2 thoughts on “Starting with a Standing Ovation”

  1. Vincent Duquerroux

    Great post!
    So true. I’m a french vet.The beginning of the consultation is as much important as the the way the pet’s owner wait : the way you say just “Hello”, smile… A good “intro” is the first step to a good relationship which is based on confidence. This may lead to a good observance. “Sweet Dream”…

  2. Victoria Labalme

    Thank you, Vincent! We share France in common. (My father was born and raised in Paris.) Yes…a good start is key! It makes all the difference. I so appreciate your retweets and your words. Sincere best and hope to see you soon out at DUARTE, Victoria

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