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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.

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