One of the best places to impress possible clients is at the ceremonies you perform. If you are a marriage celebrant you will learn, in preparing the legal documents, not only the clients’ names but also those of their parents. But in all ceremonies, it is more than likely that other persons, apart from your clients, will be involved in the ceremony. Make an effort to learn the names before you get to the ceremony and try to make a point of seeing and speaking to these people. Don’t think of the time before or after the ceremony as wasted time. Rather use this time to get to know as many people as you can by speaking to them.
To make your contact with people effective, make the conversation less a few minutes of pretending to listen, and genuinely listen. If you don’t understand what the conversation is about, ask. If you hold a conversation with someone long enough, you will probably arrive at a subject in which both of you can find interest.
Don’t allow you client, or whoever is looking after you, to introduce you to a group of people with, ‘This is John, this is Mary, this is..’. It is unlikely that you will remember any of them, and worse, you will be too backward in asking the names of the people individually, and thus lose a valuable time in finding out where each of these people fit.
Instead, suggest that you will introduce yourself - and do it. Spend enough time with each person to find out their name, their connection to the client and something of interest about the person concerned. Ask for their business card if you find someone whose services you might use, or whom you want to contact for further information, and offer yours if he asks for it. Carry the cards in a neat little box or wallet that you can carry easily any place you go.
As far as maintaining conversation is concerned, ask questions in a way which will give the person an opportunity to give you a reply of a few sentences instead of just a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Whether speaking or listening, don’t ask for clarifications of details which are not important for the overall picture. Look for the message and not the detours.
We are becoming an ageing population so recognise this when talking to groups of people. Make an effort to speak clearly and loudly if you know from experience that people are finding you difficult to understand. Similarly, if you’re having difficulty in hearing, make it a bit of a joke that every since you turned forty or fifty or whatever, your hearing isn’t what it used to be.
Some people do tend to speak very softly, especially in a social situation, and unless you encourage them to speak up, the conversation can keep you uncomfortable and fearful that you’re about to be asked a question and you have absolutely no idea what reply to make. Inaudibility, like bad breath, is a subject that nobody wants to raise, but which will make for much happier interaction when it is raised.
Never forget, that celebrancy is a people thing. Everyone needs people, and in particular, celebrants whose business is people.
Excerpt from 'How to be a Profitable Celebrant'
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Facebook, Author Celebrant of Redcliffe and Brisbane