What We Have Here Is a Failure to Communicate

Cool_Hand_Luke_Martin-1214By Ron DeVoe
Successful Sales Consulting

“What we have here is a failure to communicate.” This phrase was uttered by Strother Martin in the classic, late ’60s movie Cool Hand Luke. While I have again dated myself, I believe this quote is truer now more than ever. As an ancient member of the AV Industry and proud member of InfoComm, I know that all of us are slowly gravitating to the moniker of unified communications. Oh, to be unified in our communication! With all of the tools that we show, sell, and promote…”what we have here is a failure to communicate.”

If in a conversation I hear something akin to: “Man, you know that AV industry it’s like…really cool…you know what I’m saying?” NO, I DO NOT KNOW WHAT YOU ARE SAYING! As a native Texan, I am rarely endorsed for my impeccable use of the King’s English, but I attempt to use full sentences that make sense. That still shows my curmudgeon tendencies, so I will be more precise and stay on task for communication’s sake.

Communication, by its very definition, involves sending messages, receiving messages and feedback from those messages. All three elements are necessary or communication again fails. In an age of tweets, blogs and email blasts, sometimes the action of SEND gives one the false sense of satisfaction that communication has occurred. I understand “r u ok lol,” but I am not likely to respond.

And while we are on this subject, a great frustration for me comes from the very members of this august body of so-called communication specialists. My frustration is two-fold. First of all, an email or a text message by itself has little impact and does not communicate. I found that many felt that a simple email or text was a sufficient way to follow up on an opportunity or resolve a problem. Left a message… no response… nothing else needed. Without a response, nothing was communicated. Secondly, I am astonished about how many voice mails and emails to individuals within our small industry are ignored. While a communiqué from me is hardly a summons from on high, many of my requests for further information, clarification or discussion are deemed unworthy of a response. I am very patient and always allow 72 hours before I try again with an email. I will then follow up by a phone call which is usually directed to voice mail. At that point, I consider that I am either too much of an elderly flatulent or that the recipient lacks the professional courtesy to respond. At industry trade shows I ask for specific information from specific people only to have the generic “thank you for visiting our booth” reply with a question of what I wish to buy. Has returning a phone call or responding to an email become too arduous a task for our communication industry?

We live in an age of endless meetings. The purpose is to train, collaborate, and present with communication at the heart of everything. So we, the unified communication experts, recommend projectors, video and audio conferencing or interactive displays to help the rest of the world communicate. However, in countless industry based meetings which I have attended, be they live, online or via video, we frequently fall short of completing communication. The Power Point screen displays text which most people with a third grade reading level can quickly absorb, but the presenter determines that the audience needs every syllable read out loud. Note taking is not the reason that the audience has retrieved their mobile devices. Angry Birds communicates far better. I do like when conferencing allows a live video shot of the audience, especially those using desk top systems. While the head fills the screen in Godzilla type fashion, it is very hard to hide a yawn, snore or nose pick.

We sell, install and integrate the greatest communication tools, but we can hardly brag about being great communicators. I admire this publication (rAVe) because of the content it delivers and the communication it evokes. I hope that this rambling is read and does not fail to communicate.