Ever received voice mails like these?
“Hi! I need to talk to you…. Bye!”
“When is the class?”
"I can’t make it to the _______” (rehearsal, gig, audition, or ??)
“ Call me, it’s important!”
“What time is the show?”
I’m pretty sure you have, and sadly, I’m also reasonably sure you’ve probably left messages like this as well.
These messages usually come in on the day of a show, when someone is supposed to be subbing a gig for you, or just before a hectic workshop weekend.
Whether for a performer or an event producer, troupe director, stage manager or venue owner, these messages are enough to send a normal, healthy person’s blood pressure through the roof!
The somewhat grim reality is that most of us dancers are so focused on dancing and on our own performances that we don’t stop and think about effective business communications!
All of the messages above have these things in common:
The person leaving the message is not identifying herself and expects that the recipient will automatically know who is leaving the message
No concrete information is given as to what the message refers to
No date or time is left on the message
There is no number or email address left, so the recipient may not be able to answer back
So how do we learn how to communicate effectively?
Do not assume that the recipient knows who you are, or how to get in touch with you.
Always leave your name as well as the date and time you called. Start the message with your contact information, and repeat it at the end of the message, slowly and clearly.
Make your message short and to the point, but always be extremely specific in what you are referring to.
If you are talking about a class, a gig, rehearsal, workshop or whatever… refer to it by date, time and by the name of the event.
If you are going to be late for something, let the recipient know whether you mean you’ll be tardy by ten minutes or two hours. If you have a flat tire or some other emergency, state the facts in a brief, succinct manner and also offer an Estimated Time Of Arrival, even if that might mean you will not be there at all!
If you cannot attend a certain class or time on a workshop weekend, make sure to specify which class or show you are referring to. Chances are, there are multiple events going on during the course of the event.
Merely saying that a message is “important” can have a wide range of meanings.
What is important to you may not be something earth-shattering to the person you are communicating with- or it might be a major game changer! Juicy gossip is not important… the fact that your brand new costume looks amazing is not important.
Remember, “important” can refer to anything from “ I forgot the matching head band we’re all supposed to wear” to “I’m in the emergency room because I just broke my ankle!”
For certain information needed on the day of the event, refer to websites or previous emails before calling the producer or stage manager.
Remember, most of this information is probably already available- read the “fine print” on the performer emails or do some research on the web before causing panic for a stage manager or an event producer…they are trying to do their job while fielding a number of insignificant, time-wasting calls such as yours. Yes, I actually said that! Don’t make their lives a living hell by causing unnecessary stress.
Don’t leave anybody high and dry… if you cannot show up for some reason-offer a solution in your message.
If you need to miss a club or restaurant gig, supply the name or names and contact information of a suitable substitute performer in your message.
If you are a principle in a show, as a professional, you need to be there, unless it is truly impossible. Do not make a producer or club manager replace you at the very last moment unless you are having a bona fide emergency. Being stranded in an out-of-state airport is an emergency; having a headache is not.
If you need to get your music in but cannot email it, make sure to send a CD in well ahead of the time it’s supposed to be there. Don’t make the producer or stage manager chase you down.
By remembering these important tips, you’ll have much better communication skills, and through your consummate professionalism, will make yourself beloved to whomever you are calling… which of course, will lead to more gigs for you!