Eight Ways to Engage Today’s Attention-Fatigued Guests

Let’s face it. Today’s audience is wired and distracted. How do you boost your guests’ appetite to tune into you?

1) Present well. Professional appearance alone makes you a better salesperson. Clean and pressed shirt and pants, matching socks, shiny shoes, minty-fresh breath, and not over-perfumed presence are the price of getting out of the gate. Also consider how you wear what you wear. Think Brad Pitt.

2) Roll out the nonverbal red carpet. Greet guests differently. Sure, you want to smile and make eye contact. But go beyond. Escort guests to the table, assist them with their jackets and belongings, and help with seating. Touch the table, rearrange the salt and pepper shakers, and move the flowers. Guests notice a class act.

3) Capitalize on cues. Guests’ wants are revealed in a sea of nonverbals—in the 20,000 gestures of their body language vocabulary. Respond to the slightest glance with heightened sensitivity. Field the galaxy of gestures that say everything from, “get me a fork” to “I need my check” to “this pasta’s a little funky.”

4) What about the leader/buyer? He’s your assistant salesperson who’s tuned into your every word. He tells his buddies to shut up and give you the floor. Make sure to stand across from him when delivering presentations of the wine list, menu and desserts. Everyone follows the leader.

5) Use brain stickers. “Hi, my name is Johnny. I’ll be your waiter tonight,” garners as much attention as a flight attendant rattling off exit row instructions. Penetrate with, “Welcome to Paolo’s. In addition to our full bar service, we are featuring a Belvedere Cosmo prepared by bar star Phil from Philadelphia.” Names, places, and brands create blips that awaken the brain.

 6) Work on your stage presence. Where you are on the magnetism meter determines whether guests tune in or blow you off. Are you quiet and efficient or flamboyant and funny? How about suave and charming? Or, are you the thoughtful and nurturing type? Perhaps you are a walking encyclopedia of truffle trivia. You might even be a dramatic charismatic sales type. And, although not everyone is a Jack Nicholson or Meryl Streep, fine-tune the one-of-a-kind way you present yourself to the world. Develop unique lines, routines and gestures.

7) Be Interesting. Make sure you are locked and loaded with entertaining info.  Deliver menu presentation with just the right amount of local farmer story-telling and artful course suggestions. Know that St. Emilion was Nixon’s favorite wine while listening in on Watergate. If you’re a boring order taker, you’re destined to being painted invisible. Remember, the more interesting you are, the more interested guests will be in you.

8) Put it all together. If Millennials spend seven minutes in personal conversation and seven hours Facebooking, texting, tweeting, Googling, or transfixed on Comedy Central, commanding attention requires ingenuity. Your expressive voice, infectious smile, and impeccable appearance naturally play a part. But, the jump-out-and-grab-me magnetism essential to hook today’s over-stimulated, engagement-resistant audience can only be achieved with an arsenal of attention-getting strategies.

Contact Bob for the new DVD “The 8 Keys of Dining Sales Success,” “The Raw Prepped Final Food Show.” and the “7 Keys of Beverage Sales Success” at 703-726-9020 or

About the Author

BOB BROWN, president of Bob Brown Service Solutions,, was the #1 speaker at the 2017 National Restaurant Show. He has worked with hospitality icons such as Disney, Hilton, Morton’s of Chicago, Nordstrom, Olive Garden, and Ritz Carlton and works internationally with the prestigious seven-star Burj Al Arab in Dubai. He has appeared on the Food Network and is author of The Little Brown Book of Restaurant Success, selling over 100,000 copies worldwide. Contact Bob for keynotes, breakouts, and workshops at 571-246-2944 ©Bob Brown Service Solutions 2016.

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