The other day I attended a Christmas pageant put on by amateur actors. Before the pageant started, the emcee said, "This is such a wonderful pageant. You are going to love it!"
Last month I decided to patronize a business whose slogan calls it the "world's greatest" of its kind.
A couple of years ago, my teenage daughter was asked to play the violin for a senior citizens center. The director of the center, who had heard my daughter play, described her in the program flyer as a child prodigy.
In all three of those situations, the audience was told in one way or another "You're going to love this!" What do you think happened?
Unfortunately, expectations were set too high. They were nearly impossible to meet, even in the best circumstances.
Pageant-goers had been primed for a life-changing holiday experience. Nevertheless, it was a typical Christmas pageant with enthusiastic actors reading from their scripts, a few missed cues and awkward handoffs, and a hopeful message.
Before visiting the "world's greatest" business, I phoned to ask a question. I expected to be wowed by an efficient, friendly person answering my call. Instead I got a long "Push 1, Push 2" type of greeting. Even when I pushed 0 to talk to someone, a recording asked me to leave a message.
When my daughter entered the elevator at the senior center, she was horrified to see the flyer describing her as a prodigy. (She is not one.) She played self-consciously. Audience members frowned and fidgeted.
"You're going to love this!" is a perfect setup for disappointment.
As a business communicator, you can reduce audience disappointment by setting appropriate expectations:
- When you introduce a presentation, product, or service, you can describe it accurately–with facts, not with hyperbole.
- You can use testimonials that describe one person's positive experience rather than stating assumptions like "You'll love it!"
- You can give customer benefits rather than just bragging. For example, you can describe what makes the business great for the customer.
Have you been disappointed by exaggerated claims or an introduction that raised your expectations too high?
Have you devised effective ways to describe your product or service accurately while building excitement?
Please share your experiences.