This past week-end the Cincinnati Reds Caravan made its way to Bowling Green, Kentucky, for an appearance. Hall of Fame broadcaster for the Reds, Marty Brennaman, and several Reds players and front office staff made the trip. The caravan is divided into three separate tours making a total of l5 fan stops in four states, covering more than 2,700 miles in four days.
Why would money and time be devoted to such an event? Why not have a special television program and have different Reds celebrities appear and be interviewed? A main reason is that people want to see those who broadcast their favorite baseball team and meet some of the players they follow daily during the six-month season. Who knows how many tickets are sold to Reds games because the fan now feels a personal connection with the player? No doubt many will listen to a Reds game on radio or watch on television because they have seen in person the announcer or players.
Sometimes the message of the speaker is not as important as the speaker. We want to see our CEO speak at our company's year-end meeting and we want to hear our minister or priest present at important religious events. We want our leaders who represent us to show up at town meetings and interviews.
Don't allow your technology to substitute for the person. Important messages should be communicated in person. When a loved one has surgery, we don't want to receive a text message saying our spouse or child did fine through the operation. We want the surgeon to come out to the waiting area and talk to us face-to-face. We will not fire a person by phone, text, or email (I hope!). Watching the nonverbal and getting a sense of the emotional interaction is too important not to include in the message.
When you have a choice of sending a message or talking to the person, or when you can send out a long memo to the company or appear in person to present the message, don't just consider the content of the message. Your presence may be more important than whatever your message might be.
When a company has a United Way kick-off meeting, for example, it is vitally important that the CEO be present to speak. What he or she says is not as important as just showing up. This tells the employees that this endeavor to raise money for community projects is really important to this organization.
Technology seems to take much of our communication time. But as long as there are people, there is a place for presenting the message in person. Baseball season is still a few weeks away, but fans are buying tickets and anticipating a winning season because their favorite Red came to talk to them.
Stephen D. Boyd, Ph.D., CSP, is Professor Emeritus of Speech Communication, College of Informatics, Northern Kentucky University, near Cincinnati. He presents keynotes and seminars to corporations and associations whose people want to speak and listen effectively. See additional articles and resources at www.sboyd.com. To book Steve, call 800-727-6520 or email him through his website.