Paul Boross, The Pitch Doctor, answers a question on how get your interviewees to pitch during a job interview.
Q: I am a manager for a mid-sized accountancy practice. During pitches, I’m finding that the audience are spending more and more time on their Blackberries. I know they’re busy, but how can I get them to pay attention without coming across as rude?
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 a 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?
Mobile devices like Blackberries have certainly improved our working lives in many ways. Communication is instant and decisions can be made incredibly quickly. Disasters can be averted and time to market for new products is becoming ever shorter, but we often lament the loss of the human interaction that accompanies such technological progress.
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 Blackberries down and give you their attention. Well, it’s entirely possible using a technique that I would imagine very few people know about, because I see very few people ever do this. Some would call this radical, others heresy, so I’ll leave it for you to decide.
The technique is this: 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 Blackberries 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…
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