Back from a nice relaxing few days in Savannah, GA. Did the obligatory things whilst there, including a guided tour of the city to get the lay of the land. As in most tourist destinations, the tour guide was a card-carrying extrovert and very knowledgeable about the area (this one had actually lived there her whole life). The discussions and things pointed out were very enjoyable and helped us to get a feel of the city.There are a few things very Savannah-ish that we and the other folks on the bus were not familiar with. The guide proceeded to talk to us as though they were common knowledge, and several times said things like, “I want to tell you about…” which in and of itself is not an evil phrase, but it’s usually an indicator there is about to be a violation of Rule #1. And in this case, Rule #1 apparently only applied to the fee I paid to get on the bus. Once there, what I wanted to see or hear was put on hold while the guide listened to herself give her polished spiel and talked about the things she found important. Again, since I wanted inside information and local culture, it wasn’t a horrific thing in my instance, but I did end up spending an hour and a half at a location I could easily have seen and learned all I wanted to know about in 15 minutes. Our small group’s shrugs and blank looks must have been inviting. Since it could have easily been customized for our small group, I’d have loved to have heard, “What would you like to see or learn about?“It struck me that from a communications point of view, this person had a very polished script and was not going to waver from it. Even actors in a play who memorize every word need to learn how to improvise. And when trying to lead or provide information, even a little interaction and customization for the audience goes a long way. Meeting chairs, keynotes, and just plain ol’ speakers would do well to learn the art of using audience information to customize their content. There are very few instances where prepared remarks alone are sufficient (press releases and funerals excepted).
Modify content based on the audience.