So you’re thinking about hitting the road and giving radon presentations? Perhaps presenting to real estate offices, builders, county commissioners, or the general public. That’s great and why not? It is a good way to help spread the message while at the same time marketing your professional services — provided you do it right!
Having just completed a new course on how to deliver radon talks, we thought it would be helpful to share a few insights from our experiences over the years, both good and bad.
The first piece of advice is to have a mindset of being a “problem solver” rather than a “problem maker.” There is a natural tendency of many radon pros to want to scare people into action. They often start their program with less than happy facts like “there are 21,000 deaths each year due to radon” or “Radon Kills.” Although this may be true, most audiences would prefer a more positive message and frankly are unable to relate to the significance of 21,000 deaths per year. Furthermore, if you lead with this you are likely to be perceived as a “problem maker.”
As a “problem solver,” especially when talking to real estate professionals, a more positive approach would be to say: “Hundreds of thousands of people across the nation have taken the US Surgeon General’s recommendation to test their homes, or homes they are purchasing, and, where elevated radon levels are confirmed, have taken positive steps to reduce their exposures by employing cost-effective and proven techniques. The purpose of my talk today is to share those approaches and to discuss how this can be done in a manner that does not jeopardize a sale.”
The message of the second approach is that lots of folks are doing it and it can be done right. This is a more constructive message and portrays you as a “problem solver.” In today’s environment, where most people are familiar with radon, you don’t have to get into health risks and mechanisms. Rather, focus on proper testing and proper mitigation with a catch phrase like: “All homes can be fixed – and I am going to share how that can be done in a timely manner.” Boom — Put on your Captain America suit and get ‘er done.
Another piece of advice is to speak to the capability of the radon industry, rather than just what you or your company does. And never, ever slam your competition. If you show your audience how testing is properly conducted, and/or photos of proper mitigation systems, while pointing out elements of the standards, they are smart enough to recognize or recall non-compliance. Put yourself out there as a knowledgeable person and not a whiner. If you gain the respect of the audience by the objectivity you display as well as your command of the technology, they will find you or refer business to you when the need arises. In other words, let your professionalism be your business card.
A third recommendation has to do with your mindset. You want to “engage” the audience and to do so you need to empathize with the audience. In other words, step back and Be the Audience. You need to do this when you prepare the program as well as when you deliver the program. So, when rearranging or creating your slides, ask yourself what you, as an audience member, would want to learn? Remember, this is about them – not you. Also, ask yourself what gripes or objections they might have and be prepared to speak to them. That shows you are empathetic to their needs rather than forcing a canned presentation down their throats.
As far as nervousness goes, there is no reason to be nervous if you have prepared yourself well enough and have anticipated questions that may arise. The key is to realize that you know a lot about the topic and are honest enough to admit it when you don’t know something. Honesty is better than making something up, which an audience can spot in a heartbeat and cause you to lose all credibility.
As far as questions, train yourself to repeat the question. This not only allows the audience to understand the context in which you are providing an answer, but more importantly, gives you a moment to think before you put your mouth in gear and say something wrong. Repeating the question can also allow you to rephrase the question to where you can provide a much more appropriate answer. Simply listen to any news conference (and we have had a lot lately) and you can experience how important it is to repeat the question and how some speakers do this well and others do not.
These are just some of the highlights but if you are considering getting up in front of the crowd but are little uneasy, we encourage you to get additional training to do so. It can be enjoyable; it helps the outreach effort, and it is a good way to market yourself, as a radon professional, helping to solve a serious problem.