People love stories.

In this world of multitasking electronic overload, it can be tough to break through the noise. It can be very difficult to silence your mind, to focus on one thing. Can you think of times when you can? For me, I think back to camping as a kid, sitting around a fire at night, listening to a camp counselor tell enchanting, and sometimes terrifying stories. The snap of the fire, the orange glow on faces, the warm face and chest and a cool back from the summer evening chill.

The setting served to focus the mind. The silence provided an opportunity to own the space, all eyes on the person talking.

How do you make your sales presentations? Is it a roomful of laptops? An office with your prospect glancing at his monitor? Do people hold their cell phones in their laps, glancing every minute or so?

I find the evolution (or de-evolution) of electronic decorum fascinating to watch. A few years ago a person making/taking a call in a restaurant was considered rude. Today you hardly think twice. The chatter about making calls on airplanes leans heavily against allowing it, but if it becomes a reality, do you really think you’ll resist it forever? We took our kids to Red Robin for dinner a while back and I glanced at the next table where four teenagers sat looking at iPods and phones, never once talking to each other (maybe they were texting each other).

So maybe it’s time to do something bold in your next meeting, and ask for laptops down, and cell phones on silent. They’ve agreed to give you their time, and you’ve worked hard to make it worth their while.

“But I couldn’t do that…I don’t want to be rude.” Who’s being rude when someone won’t give you their full attention for a short bit of time?

It’s as easy as this. “I’m very excited to share our ideas with you today. I hope I can ask for laptops down and cell phones on silent for a while, and I know it will be worth your time.” There. You’ve been polite, and also set up that you’ve got a solution worth listening to.