When I was a teenager I had the good fortune of spending a significant amount of time with Fred C. Maples. Fred was 52 years older than me. He had been a very famous gospel singer in the 1940s and 50s. His group, the Harmoneers recorded on RCA Victor and Fred was posthumously inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2003. If his name sounds familiar, I gave a key character in my book, The Tightrope Tango, Unleashing the Power of Balance, the name Fred Maples as a way to honor my old friend.
As a high school freshman, during summer break, I would go to Fred’s office and sit for hours listening to him talk about his life on the stage. He was a hero to me. Because he sensed I had the stage in my future, he more than once told me this rule to follow. “Ray”, he would say, “Always give people back a little time.” “Most people take what they are given plus a little more. If you are a singer, you might be given a spot on a program to perform for 30 minutes. Most will go 35 minutes. This puts the promoter in a difficult spot as he tries to adjust his show to compensate for your long set. Be the type of person who goes 28 minutes. The promoter will appreciate you. Plus you want to always leave your audience wanting more.”
I have never forgotten those true words. Fred passed away in 1987. Yet, that simple piece of advice has helped me numerous times in many different settings. Most people feel time drained. They are being pulled in many different directions by many competing forces. Respect people’s time and people will appreciate you for it.
How do I respect people’s time?
If you have an appointment, be on time. Actually be early and ready to ring the bell at the precise time you said you would be there. It is disrespectful to show up late. Just the other day an insurance salesman arrived 45 minutes late for an appointment with my wife and me. I let him talk a few minutes and then I had to end the meeting. We had other appointments and could not let his poor time management control our day.
Don’t over explain. If I am meeting with a salesperson, I want them to explain the product to me but I do not want the super long and complex presentation. I want the high points and then some printed materials I can read at my leisure. I do not want to be with a salesperson all day. I want the most efficient presentation they can make. I will do business with them if they respect my time.
If you are giving an oral presentation, when you come to your conclusion, “LAND THE PLANE”. I cannot tell you how many presentations have been ruined by the presenter not knowing how to land the plane. When it’s over….end it. Don’t circle the airport anymore. And, if I thought you were going to speak for an hour and you did an excellent job and ended in 57 minutes, I will appreciate you immensely for the three extra minutes you have given back to me.
So think about it today. How are you doing with time. Are you giving people back a little time or are you soaking every minute you can from them. Fred C. Maples influenced me a great deal. I think about him often. And I will forever be grateful for his advice to me. I believe Fred C. Maples was right on TIME.