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Ask The Pitch Doctor: My CrackBerry clients won’t pay attention

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A: When I work in America, the term they use for this is “the BlackBerry prayer”. You stare out into the audience and it seems like several people are communing with their own little electronic deity. 

There are a number of ways in which we can approach this situation; it can be an insult, a compliment or something in between.

The insult is obvious, these people can’t even put their phones down and pay attention. You’ve gone to the trouble of preparing a pitch and they won’t even respect your time and effort.

How is this compliment? Well, if they’re that busy then for them to be in the room at all means that they felt your pitch was important. And can you honestly say that your attention is undivided in the meetings you go to?

There is a school of thought that says that while your audience is slightly distracted, they are actually more susceptible to instructions. By giving the audience commands to buy your product, make the right decision or support your project, you could be taking advantage of the fact that their conscious defences are preoccupied. However, that wouldn’t be entirely fair, and so I’m not advocating that you try it.

Instead, let’s tackle the original question; how to get them to put their BlackBerrys down and give you their attention. Try this technique. Say, “I appreciate you giving me a few minutes of your time today, and there are some details in my pitch that are important so I’m going to invite you to put your BlackBerrys away and give me your full attention, just for the next few minutes.”

Radical I know, but sometimes the only way to get what you want is to ask for it…

The Pitch Doctor, also known as Paul Boross, helps individuals and companies to create and deliver winning pitches, using his unique combination of business, psychology and performance skills to bring out the best in anyone. He is author of The Pitching Bible, which has hit the number one spot on Amazon and is soon to be followed by its companion guide, The Pocket Pitching Bible.

Got a question for The Pitch Doctor? Email editors@realbusiness.co.uk

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