It's 8:15 p.m. on a Thursday night. I'm at home in front of my computer. The phone rings. I say hello twice before I get an answer. This is always a telltale clue that it's a telemarketer calling. "May I speak to Diane DiResta?," she asks. "Speaking," I reply. She begins to talk about bank security and identifies the bank she is representing. I have an account there so I listen. She continues reading her script about completing a survey. I never participate in surveys but because it's my bank I continue to listen. But she continues reading and I don't know where this is going. Finally, in an annoyed tone, I said, "STOP! You're reading. What is it that you want to know?" She responded by saying, "Have a horrible day and hung up. Okay, it wasn't my finest hour. Maybe I could have said that more sweetly. But I don't like my time wasted and these uninvited calls are an intrusion in my personal life. The point of the call is to get information not to practice reading out loud. Cut to the chase! Marketers who create these scripts have no understanding of presentation principles. How often does an audience tune out because the speaker drones on with a long winded opening? So why would they think a person would listen to a long introduction on the phone? The purpose of an opening is to capture attention and set the stage for the body of the presentation.
Reading a script is no different from a public speaker reading PowerPoint slides. We've all experienced death by PowerPoint. The audience can read faster than the presenter can speak. When you read a slide you make yourself unnecessary. This is a lesson that few telemarketers have learned.When someone calls me and reads, I find it insulting.
Whether you're speaking in person or by telephone, it's all public speaking. And basic presentations skills are required. So here are some principles for the marketing script writers and telemarketers to remember:
1. Practice the script out loud several times until it's familiar.
2. Highlight key words and phrases so that they are easily seen.
3. Make the script your own. Modify it to sound conversational. Speak the way you would normally speak.
4. Never read word for word.
5. Get to the point right away and give a benefit to the listener. "Good evening. We care about your business and we'd like you to answer a few questions so that we can serve you better."
6. Keep the survey brief. Just as an audience will tune out during a long speech, nobody will stay on the line for a 100 question survey.
7. Be flexible. If the listener says, "What do you want to know", answer the question and get right into the survey. Public speakers who give dog and pony shows may be dynamic in their delivery. But if the group wants them to skip ahead they panic and don't know what to do. Here's a tip. Skip to the next point. Give the audience what they want.
Remember these public speaking principles when you're presenting by phone. Don't be wedded to your script or you'll soon be divorced from your audience.