As those of you who've read How to Wow know, I was a mad, crazy fan of The West Wing. If you were, too, you'll remember that there was a phrase everyone on the senior staff knew to use when they needed to pull someone out of a meeting or social situation gracefully in order to deal with something of utmost urgency and that was, "I was wondering if you could come speak to an old friend of the president's?" How is this relevant for you? Well, if you work in a situation where you're surrounded by customers or clients it's important to decided on a phrase of this kind for moments when you need to get someone to step away and come speak to you immediately. For example, I was recently talking to a client who owns a restaurant. As I'm sure you know, going to a restaurant is about far more than the food you eat: it's about the staff, the ambiance, the ease of the entire experience. Given this, I recommended that in moments when a member of the senior staff had to be pulled away from what they were doing immediately, the phrase, "Have you seen the Spanish wine list?" be used. The beauty of this phrase? Its innocuousness was guaranteed not to rouse the curiosity of any customer who might hear it but —because it's a French restaurant—there is no Spanish wine list. A friend who used to work in a ball park told me that the code they used on the PA system to alert security to come handle a drunken fan was, "It looks like we've got a super fan in Section X." Another place a code phrase can come in handy is in meetings. Obviously, it's not practical to get up and leave the meeting, but I do recommend all my clients have a code phrase for "We need to re-direct the conversation." In my experience, I've found having one team member ask another, "Do you have an extra pen?" doesn't arouse much interest in anyone else present, yet effectively catches the critical team member's attention. Similar to the codes many couples use to signal, "Let's have this conversation at home" (and if you don't have this in-hand, I recommend you decide on one today) having a standardized "code red" phrase ensures you and your team have a graceful way to move from one situation to another. Frances Cole Jones www.FrancesColeJones.com
Frances Cole Jones founded Cole Media Management in 1997 to help clients identify and cultivate their inherent strengths and, through these, develop the powerful communication skills that enhance personal and professional performance. Writing The Wow Factor and How to Wow has been her way of reaching a wider audience, “My goal is to have every person who picks these up, put them down feel more confident in their ability to present their best self --in any situation.” Prior to founding Cole Media Management, Frances worked at St. Martin’s Press, Viking Penguin, Doubleday, and Broadway Books as an editor of commercial nonfiction, working on popular psychology, parenting, self-help and how-to books. The experience of helping authors translate their ideas into books that retained their unique voice is what makes her valuable to her clients. “There’s no point in my writing a perfectly crafted sound bite that you have to strain to remember,” Frances says. “You have to sound like you—authenticity is integral to trust.” As President of Cole Media Management, Frances’ clients have appeared on The Today Show, Good Morning America, Oprah, C-SPAN, CNN, Squawkbox, The Charlie Rose Show, Larry King Live, The Discovery Channel, The BBC News, E! Entertainment, Access Hollywood, Project Runway, Top Chef, ESPN, Extra! Fox and Friends, The View, Cashin’ In, QVC and others. Clients' print interviews have appeared in publications including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Forbes, Newsweek, Vogue, W, O Magazine, Town & Country, Harper's Bazaar, Tatler, etc. The scope of their work includes preparation for television and print interviews, IPO road shows, meetings with potential investors, and internal meetings with partners, sales staff, and in-house personnel. They also provide presentation skills seminars and speechwriting for clients. Frances also writes for WomenOnBusiness.com, Intent.com, DivineCaroline.com, and Executive Travel. Her first book, HOW TO WOW, was published by Ballantine in 2008.