Party length is often a topic for discussion among direct sales people. Recently the mantra has been, “Make your shows shorter.” That’s a great idea, but I have a different suggestion—make your shows seem shorter.
Time is relative. If you don’t believe me, try this old example. Spend 60 seconds hugging your sweetie. Now spend 60 seconds with your hand on a hot stove. The time spent is exactly the same, but your perception of that time is vastly different.
How does this apply to your shows? I’ve been a customer at shows that lasted 2 hours and seemed to simply fly by. I’ve been a customer at shows that lasted 45 minutes and seemed to last an eternity. The difference was whether or not I was having fun.
My shows can actually be fairly long. It depends on the crowd. Many of my crowds get to asking questions and commenting on products so that the show goes much longer than I would recommend. In the over five years I’ve been presenting shows, I’ve only had one person comment that the show was too long. I regularly get comments about the shows being fast, fun, entertaining, and interesting.
If you know me, you know that I’m fairly entertaining. Frankly, I believe it’s genetic. Until he lost his sight and most of his hearing, my dad was wonderfully entertaining. He remembered jokes easily and had a knack for telling them. I inherited that ability and have attempted to hone it over the years.
Don’t be discouraged if you’re not a born entertainer, though. While I believe entertainment is a factor in the perception of my shows, I think the real key is something else. Everyone participates.
The company I work with is encouraging interactive shows, and those are great. My shows are interactive in a different way, though. I encourage questions and comments by rewarding those who participate with candy. That helps to get the ball rolling. About halfway through the show people start objecting to receiving candy. They’ve gotten so caught up on the camaraderie of the show that the candy has lost its appeal.
A recent host had 13 guests. The actual “demonstration” part of the party lasted for just over an hour and a half. That’s about double the length of time suggested, and much longer than I would prefer. Afterward, people stayed to chat and eat a bit more before heading home. I heard exclamations of surprise at how late it was as people were getting ready to leave. Of those 13 guests, 7 made comments on their survey slips. They ranged from “All was great,” to “This is the most fun I’ve had at a [company name] party ever!”
Is it possible that there was more than one person in the past five years who felt my show went too long? Of course. I encourage people to give me constructive criticism, but there are people who just won’t say anything. However, I have never had trouble getting bookings from my shows, I get lots of positive comments, and I’m starting to have people contact me because they’ve been told my parties are a lot of fun.
No matter how long your show actually lasts, it’s whether the guests are having a good time that determines whether or not it’s a long party.