Expert advice for hard conversations with clients, the media, and anyone in between.
Tough conversations with clients are a part of doing business in any vertical, and how you handle them can make the difference between someone leaving with a great impression of your brand, ready to pass on the good word, or making sure to savage your reputation online and off.
To add to that, today you have the added twist of everyone carrying a high definition recording device right in their pocket or purse in the form of a phone, and widespread knowledge of how to get that footage online.
This means that, like it or not, a volatile conversation with a single individual can suddenly represent – in the public eye – how your brand handles conversation with every client.
If this thought makes you break out in sweat you’re not alone, but the panic doesn’t have to be permanent. Try these Crisis Communications Tips for Recorded Talks from our team of expert consultants on for size:
- Have a plan. Even the best speakers are going to have a bad time if they walk into a tough room and wing it. Know what you want your audience to come away remembering and how you’ll get them there. Remember they may not believe you on reputation alone, don’t be offended when they want to see facts, figures, or outside data to support your points.
- Express compassion. Have you ever attempted to resolve an argument with someone close to you using pure logic, without addressing or acknowledging their emotions? How’d that turn out?From an outsider’s perspective, consider what about the situation would have you feeling concerned, scared, or angry. Then, think about how your words, body language, and tone can address those feelings.You shouldn’t admit fault where there is none, but you can say things like, “We do this job because we love helping _____.”, “As a _____ I know how hard it is to deal with _____…”, or similar in order to help connect with your audience and open them up to having a productive conversation.
- Avoid jargon or technical terms. Yes, you’re neck deep in your field every day, but your audience isn’t. Even seemingly simple terms that are used commonly in your industry can be confusing and intimidating for clients.Don’t avoid delivering crucial information, but do it in a way your average layperson should have no problem understanding.
- Don’t repeat the negatives. “No our product does not burn houses down!” OR “We have conducted a thorough review and are confident our product is safe to use.” Which sounds better?While it’s not always an option during real-world conversation, whenever possible you should avoid repeating negative terms in the process of denying them. This becomes even more important if you know you’re being filmed, where any individual answer can easily be taken out of context.
- Practice! There’s no better way to improve at having difficult conversations than to practice. The simplest way to do this is to find a trusted coworker or family member and have them pepper you with the most awful questions they can think of based on either a real or imagined scenario. It’s intimidating at first, and not exactly what I’d call fun for anyone involved, but you’ll appreciate the effort spent in a safe space when you know you know you’re coming up on a difficult conversation and, instead of wanting to bolt, you head forward confident you have the ability to defuse the situation.
We hope these five Crisis Communication Tips for Recorded Talks helps, but sometimes you need more. For additional information on Bernstein Crisis Management services, including crisis communications planning, media training, and more, Contact Us today.