Making Your Audience Feel Special: Lessons from an Indian Housekeeper

When you’re presenting, do you care about your audience?

If your answer is “yes” (which I hope it is), then the next question is: how do you show them you care?

If you’re able to deliver an insanely great presentation, that’s certainly one way to show them you care. Engaging design. Impactful visual images. Rehearsed and smooth delivery.

Those are some elements of an amazing presentation. The truth, however, is that every presentation should include all of those things.

I feel that in order to make an audience feel truly special, we presenters need to pay attention to the little things, too. This thought struck me like a ton of bricks during a recent stay at the Fortune Hotel in Madurai (India).

I had just returned to my room after a long day of meetings, and this is what greeted me as I walked into my room:

03132014 - Bed

03132014 - Nessie

A neat room, clean towels in the bathroom, a freshly made bed – those are the equivalent of an engaging presentation with impactful visual images and a smooth delivery (if you’re not able to offer those basics, it’s kind of like sticking your audience in a pay-by-the-hour motel).

The housekeeper that was attending to my room went way above and beyond to make me feel special.

03132014 - Note

He left a basket of clean clothes on the bed along with my fleece arranged in a fun pose and some towels in heart-shaped formation. On the coffee table, some type of long-necked towel animal (the Loch Ness monster?) waited for me, along with the coup de grace: a simple, hand-written note. “Have a successful day. Welcome back.”

These little things are memorable. I don’t know that I actually met the housekeeper tending to my room, but he certainly made me feel like he cared about my experience, and my success! If I’m in Madurai again, I think I’d like to return to this specific hotel.

What’s the equivalent when getting ready for a presentation? A training room that’s neatly laid out. A hand-written note, customized for each attendee. Learning their names as quickly as possible. This stuff is all free, and it will immediately establish a connection with your audience.

What kinds of things are you doing to make your audience feel special, like they’ll want to pay attention to every word you have to say, like they’ll want to come back? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Want someone you know to feel special? Pass this link along to them (with a personalized note)!

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2 thoughts on “Making Your Audience Feel Special: Lessons from an Indian Housekeeper

  1. This was a great read! No matter what field a person is in, they can show their audience they can. This is a great message to all people. It makes me so happy to see people do small things to show others they care. Be the best you can be, no matter what field you are in. It sounds like the housekeeper knew how to do this well. My audience is first graders, as I am a teacher. One thing I do before I even meet my students is study my roster with pictures of the students to learn their names. Knowing someone’s name shows a connection to them like none other. My goal as a teacher is to know all their names after the first day of teaching with them, since there are some that I can’t get pictures of prior to the first day of school. Throughout the year, speaking in a positive tone and often talking about how much I care about my students and their learning is another way I show them I care. I am there for them when they need me and I work one-on-one with each of them to give them an extra push. I will often leave little cards on their desk for them to walk in and find the following day. The cards have a space for me to write individual notes on things they did well. I make sure to write something for each individual, rather than the same message for the whole class. I let them know a goal they are meeting or something they have improved upon that week. This is an easy way to assure, through positive reinforcement, that my students will continue what they are already doing well. That leads me to what makes me feel special and it is positive reinforcement. My principal left me a post-it at the beginning of the school year that stated “I love how you always have your objectives posted on your white board in kid-friendly language.” I kept that note on my bulletin board next to my desk the whole year. Every Mon. morning when I write my objectives on the board I think about that note. I am always proud to do something like that after I am recognized for doing it well. I am also someone who feels special when others know my name. This is an important part of making someone feel special and like an individual. I think eye contact is important to make your audience feel special, too. This is especially important when someone is talking one-on-one to me. If they are looking all around the room, rather than looking right at me when they are speaking to me, I feel they are not really engaged in our conversation and in our time together. I greatly appreciated you using the housekeeper as an example of someone who worked to make you feel special. People can really make an impact on the lives of others by doing the littlest things.

    -Jenny 🙂

    • Thanks for your thoughtful comments and for sharing your experience, Jenny. Learning people’s names is absolutely essential in letting people – whether in 1st grade or in the corporate training room – know that you care about them.

      This housekeeper just wrote a unique note – “I hope you had a successful day”. None of my other colleagues got this note. And after coming back to the hotel room following a long day of meetings, it just had a huge impact on me.

      I’m hoping I can have a similar impact on people who attend my presentations. And it seems to be the “little things” that make such a big difference.

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