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Vino Veritas Redux

Sometimes you discover the best insights when you least expect it. Such was the case not long ago when my father sat me down in front of his computer and played a selection of vodcasts from Gary Vaynerchuk of TV Wine Library. What struck me most was not Gary’s insights into wine, which are considerable, but his ability to communicate his point of view simply, directly and stylistically.

Sometimes you discover the best insights when you least expect it. Such was the case not long ago when my father sat me down in front of his computer and played a selection of vodcasts from Gary Vaynerchuk of TV Wine Library. What struck me most was not Gary’s insights into wine, which are considerable, but his ability to communicate his point of view simply, directly and stylistically.

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Make no mistake Vaynerchuk is a salesman. Wine Library, which he founded and runs, is a popular online wine retailer, even earning attention from the New York Times. But it is how Gary communicates that deserves special mention. Managers looking for insights into communicating persuasively should tune into Vaynerchuk’s vodcasts. Here’s what you may learn.

Put the message first. The setup is simple; Gary speaks from a seated position, either on a couch or a chair with a table arrayed with the wine or wines of the day arrayed before him. He talks straight to camera, pausing only to pour the wine and taste it. His comments are direct and to the point. He plugs what he sells certainly, but couches his message with good information. Not to mention a competitive price.

Get down to earth with your audience. Wine aficionados can be snobs; they delight in pretentious abstractions – whispers of chiffon, nocturnes of boysenberry, hints of hibiscus. Nuts to that, says Gary. Good wines have flavors you can savor and a finish you can remember. A not-so good offering may have an after-taste like “dry cardboard.”

Express your passion. Gary really likes wine and even more he wants others to share his passion. His enthusiasm is rarely concealed; it is evident in the pace of his delivery, the tone of appreciation, and his facial expressions and even body language. The episode on the merits of decanting so that the oxygen in the atmosphere can bring the true flavors of the wine to clarity is a gem. Clearly this guy loves what he does.

As good a communicator as Vaynerchuck is, I would advise managers not to emulate one habit. Many of Gary’s insights come from tasting the wine and then offering what seem to be spontaneous comments. Like all professionally wine-tasters, Gary does not swallow the wine; he spits it into a bucket. He can get away with it, and in an odd kind of way, it adds to the charm of his presentations. But unless you’re selling something that needs to be tasted, skip the bucket!

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Communication lies at the heart of persuasion. Yet so often managers take persuasion for granted and minimize its importance. They assume people know the whys and wherefores; such assumptions have kept many fines projects at ground zero. Managers tempted to skimp on it would do well to watch and listen to someone who cares about what he does and wants others to share in those benefits. That someone may be a clerk in a hardware store, a nurse in a doctor’s office, a chef of a restaurant, or even an on-line wine salesman. Good communication turns information into persuasion. Who knows? You just might learn something along the way!

John Baldoni • Leadership Author/Speaker • Baldoni Consulting, LLC • john@johnbaldoni.com www.johnbaldoni.com

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