- Next trainer development cohort 23rd - 27th September 2024

My Terrible Failing (and how to avoid being a bore)

2nd March, 2018

My Terrible Failing (and how to avoid being a bore)

I always wimp out at the last minute. Never bring myself to do it. Can’t quite summon the nerve.


No, not public speaking or pole dancing – I’m fine with those. (Ok maybe not the latter).


I’m talking about mastering the Kindly Brush Off (KBO). The KBO is that breezy excuse that allows you to gently ditch any dreary bore at a party or work do.


And it always eludes me. Two hours in to an event, I’m still talking to the very same windbag who suckered on to me when I arrived. Like a tentacled alien, they’re slowly draining the lifeforce out of me, banging on about their favourite motorway service stations.


I know I should suggest mingling/pretend to go to the loo/palm them off to someone else. But I’m frozen to the spot, too damn British and polite to give them the KBO. In the end I zone out, nodding mutely from time to time.


But these encounters do serve an useful purpose. They constantly remind me to never, ever be a bore. Especially in business.


Why? Well as advertising executive David Ogilvy once said


‘You can’t bore people into buying from you.’


And yet so many businesses give it their best shot….


….pages and pages of dreary detail that masquerade as proposals…..mind-numbing Powerpoint slides with bulleted lists in tiny font….white papers with the title ‘The Future of Data Management’…..


A total yawnfest.


How do you avoid being a bore in business?


A simple trick is to ask yourself: Would I say that to someone I know?


Because actually your clients aren’t so different from your friends of family, or anyone else out there. We all LOVE to be entertained. To hear something new and different. To have our curiosity piqued. And none of us leaps out of bed in the morning exclaiming ‘Today I’m TOTALLY in the mood for a 50 slide deck with extra pie charts and graphs on the side. Bring it on.’


So always focus on being interesting first, and then on your message or content second. Because however valid and useful your content, no-one listens to a bore.

University of Cambridge


- Next trainer development cohort 23rd - 27th September 2024

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