To the Brim
Five everyday dress-for-success tips from Pam Chambers
Pam Chambers: Making the Connection
by Danielle Lum
Inside the Closet of a Hawaii Style Diva
by Paula Rath
This article appeared in the December 2005 issue of Hawaii Business. It is reprinted with permission. You can see the original Hawaii Business article page here.
Greet, Help and Thank
Readers of my column know that I love market research. So I thought I'd share the results from surveys conducted for Hawaii clients over the past 24 months. They show that the public values customer service over – are you ready? – price! In one case, customers ranked eight items (trust, reputation, location, quickness, staff knowledge, friendliness, politeness and helpfulness) higher than price.
"So what, exactly, is customer service?" I asked Pam Chambers, one of Hawaii's top corporate trainers in customer service, presentations and business etiquette.
"I like the way Glenn Furuya of Leadership Works summarizes customer service," Chambers said, over coffee at Mocha Java. "He has it down to three words: Greet, help and thank."
How should a customer be greeted? Chambers says, "Look happy to see us. That's all we ask. If you're not happy to see customers, stay in the back. It might be the 100th time you've served coffee that day, but it's the first time for that customer."
Helping includes educating the customer about the benefits of the product, its unique qualities and its value, so that he or she can make an educated buying decision.
How should a customer be thanked? "With eye contact, a smile and sincerity! If I'm not thanked, there is a hole in my experience," Chambers continues. "I doubt I would return."
What do you recommend if there's a customer service mistake? "Many managers are afraid to find any unhappiness, but it will multiply if not addressed. If it's found and fixed, people will talk about how you fixed the problem, rather than the problem itself.
"Young Laundry recently lost one of nine buttons on a jacket I brought in," Chambers recalls. "They gave me a button catalog to choose from, and replaced all nine buttons, no questions asked. They surpassed my expectations. They were not defensive. They offered a solution. They over-delivered and followed up. It's a great formula."
"Great customer service doesn't happen by accident," Chambers says. "It has to be valued by management, and employees deserve regular and consistent training."
Bob Sigall teaches marketing at HPU. His book, The Companies We Keep – Amazing stories about 450 of Hawaii's best known companies, can be found at local bookstores. Contact him at: Sigall@Yahoo.com.
This article appeared in the December 15, 2004, issue of MidWeek. It is reprinted courtesy of MidWeek Printing.
Speaking Out For Self-confidence
by Linda Dela Cruz
The biggest fear for most people, studies show, is public speaking, followed by going to the dentist, snakes and drowning, according to presentation coach Pam Chambers.
Since 1985, she has been teaching others how to overcome their fears and become better speakers with her company, Pam Chambers Presentations.
"Everyone needs to know how to present themselves," she says, admitting that she, too, was once terrified of public speaking.
Chambers overcame her fear when she started working with a self-improvement seminar company in California and saw how effective the coach was.
"It got into my blood or ignited what was already there," says Chambers, who was born in Oxford, England, where her dad was a Rhodes Scholar.
She accepted an assignment to get the seminars started in Hawaii and fell in love with the islands. Four months later, she moved here and eventually landed a job as director and emcee for the weekly 7 a.m. Winners' Circle Breakfast Club in the 1980s. Chambers decided to train a handful of people to fill in for her and take over the emcee duties. About 20 people signed up, and that's when she discovered that she could teach! She was asked to do the four-session class again, and soon after an architecture company booked her as a trainer.
For individuals, the Niu Valley resident offers a year-round six-week Level I Presentation class on Wednesdays at a Merchant Street location. Chambers says one of her success stories is a student who cried at the first class, but by the sixth and final class the student delivered a five minute presentation to promote her business. Chambers affectionately calls her the "from tears to show me the money in six weeks" prodigy.
"Some are too frightened to take my class," she says. "If you're that afraid, you should take my class. It takes an inner change to make an outer change."
She conducts customized trainings on presentation skills for companies, and also does one-on-one coaching, as well as serving as keynote speaker to groups and conventions.
Her clients include individuals and companies such as Hawaiian Electric Co., Hawaiian Humane Society, Verizon, the Honolulu Police Department, the Honolulu Fire Department, the Carpenters Union, and many retail stores.
During the challenging times after Sept. 11, 2001, Chambers reached out to past and existing clients to find out how their training needs had changed. New programs evolved called team building, stress management and business etiquette.
To help teach some of her classes, Chambers often uses books she wrote: Speak for Self, Stand and Deliver and Public Speaking Made Easy. She also has two CDs on the topic as well as a video on business manners, and an online monthly column on image at www.YoungLaundry.com.
Chambers has a slew of tips on how to relax before your big speech, and shares this one: "This might sound corny, but love and appreciate people ahead of time, while you are driving to the event. Start with a feeling of love instead of fear."
Chambers also suggests arriving early to meet and greet the audience so that they're like friends instead of scary strangers.
"And remember, what you have to say might help other people," she notes.
This article appeared in the Hawai'i Meetings & Events magazine, Winter 2004 issue, wherein Pam is named as one of Hawaii's top four speakers. It is reprinted courtesy of Tiger Oak Publications.
Pam Chambers: Overcoming the Fear Factor
by Len Takushi
Life is full of irony. How else can you explain how one of Hawai`i's most respected professional speakers was once deathly afraid of even being noticed?
"I was always a very shy and timid person," admits Pam Chambers. "When I was in school, I would avoid doing anything that drew attention to me. I wouldn't ask questions, I would never be in a school play and I would never run for any school office."
But that was then. Today, Chambers is widely known as "Hawai`i's Presentation Coach." Using real-life stories, interaction with the audience and "in-the-moment" humor, she provides customized training sessions for business organizations, holds classes on presentation skills, offers one-onone coaching and delivers keynote addresses that focus on personal development. Topics include "Bring Out the Best in Your Team," "A Roomful of Strangers: Seventeen Networking Tips," "The Power of a Professional Image," "Twenty-two Ways to Turn Satisfied Customers into Loyal Customers" and "What Everyone Needs to Know about Business Etiquette."
Review Chambers' list of clients and you'll see a "Who's Who" of notable corporations and organizations in Hawai`i and beyond, including Bank of Hawai`i, First Hawaiian Bank, Alexander & Baldwin, Aloha Airlines, Verizon Hawai`i, John Hancock Life Insurance Company, the American Bankers Association and Castle & Cooke. She was named one of Hawai`i's "Ten Most Admired Women" by Honolulu magazine in 1999, and is the author of a best-selling book, Public Speaking Made Easy.
Chambers' transformation came when she took a job as San Francisco branch manager for a company called Actualizations, which offered selfimprovement workshops. Once a month, she had to stand onstage in front of hundreds of "graduates" and their guests and introduce the seminar leader.
"I would shake, tremble and sweat, and afterwards I would just feel horrible about myself," she recalls. "I remember finally making the decision, 'I am going to master this, because this fear is crippling me.' Speaking in front of groups once a month was not enough for me to get over my nervousness, so I took a deep breath and asked for more speaking opportunities. I overcame my fear and now I help others do the same."
Coming from that background, Chambers completely understands the discomfort that many people have about public speaking. That's why all her talks and classes are geared to help people improve the way they come across to others. "One lady, for example, just didn't look or act the part of a leader," she says. "Within two sessions, her posture was better, she was dressing professionally, she had a sparkle in her eye and she was asserting herself in professional settings where before she used to cower."
Chambers also recalls receiving a letter that said, "I don't know if you remember me, but I took your class five years ago, and I just wanted you to know that I've now started my own business, and I never could have done it without you."
She smiles at the recollection. "I get cards and letters and e-mails from people all the time telling me how much I helped them. For me, there's no greater joy than that."
This article appeared in The Honolulu Advertiser on Monday, October 21, 2002. It is reprinted here with permission:
Pam Chambers a believer in coaching, feedback
by Katherine Nichols
Title: Founder, Pam Chambers Presentations, empowering others in the art of communication
Experience: Has offered presentation classes in Hawai'i since 1985; started corporate and personal coaching sessions in 1987
Taking on... Employees arriving late for meetings
Managers want to change this practice, but are reluctant to scold staff. Managers tell Chambers in her coaching seminars that they want to avoid conflict because they don't want to be the subject of gossip and they're worried about singling out an employee. Late arrivals at meetings are a source of frustration for managers who want to be compassionate and well-liked, yet maintain a professional environment.
First, managers should stop viewing professional demands as confrontations and start seeing them as guidance, said Chambers. Allowing people to wander into meetings late is a classic example of "not raising the bar," she said. "In fact, it's letting the bar clatter to the floor by looking the other way."
If a manager says to workers who arrived on time that he will start in a few minutes because he is still waiting for a few people, the message is clear that arriving on time is not valued.
Instead, Chambers recommends managers lead by example. "Begin the meeting at the stated start time and close the door," she said. It will become clear to latecomers that tardiness is not acceptable. But just in case, Chambers tells managers to clarify the requirements at the end of the session by saying, "I noticed that several people arrived late. I need to make it clear that you need to be here on time and the meetings will start on time."
Don't beg or hedge, said Chambers. Make it a simple statement of fact.
Managers who expect promptness must also end meetings on time. Doing so raises their credibility, said Chambers. "We're assuming the workers have appointments and deadlines," she said. "What does it say to them about time management if the leader of the meeting doesn't have any? Leaders have to lead by example."
This article appeared in Pacific Business News on Friday, October 18, 2002. It is reprinted here with permission:
Coaches shape up candidates for campaign trail
by Debbie Sokei
When speaking in front of a crowd, never stand with your hands in your pockets. That is a definite no, said Pam Chambers, public speaking coach and founder of Pam Chambers & Associates.
"If they have their hands in their pockets, they look like they are hiding something," she said. "And that shows that they are not trustworthy."
Political candidates, including Honolulu City Councilman Duke Bainum, have tapped Chambers' expertise in order to polish their skills.
"It's not about presentation as much as about facilitation, getting people comfortable in speaking," Bainum said.
Chambers coached Bainum, a physician, before he entered political office. He then hired her as a consultant during his campaign for the Council, after years as a state legislator. Although he wouldn't disclose how much he spent for the coaching, "It was money well spent," he said.
During the 1960 presidential campaign, Republican candidate Richard Nixon was seen wiping perspiration from his forehead during a televised debate with John F. Kennedy, who appeared prepared and suave on camera. Polls showed Kennedy winning that debate, and analysts believed style points played a big role in his eventual election.
Since then, media/public speaking coaches have grown in popularity.
This article appeared in The Honolulu Advertiser on Sunday, January 28, 2001. It is reprinted here with permission:
Coaching Others on How To Make Positive Changes
by Katherine Nichols
An acquaintance approaches and says, "I saw you on television last night." Chambers rolls her eyes and grimaces. "Oh, it was --" She stops herself, smiles and says, "Thank you." Later, she confides to a reporter: "I looked hideous."
In her presentation classes, "Just say thank you" is a ritualized response that she adopted from her sons' karate dojo, who taught his pupils to say thank you after getting knocked down. But she admitted that even she has to catch herself at times. "When people get input, whether it's a compliment or a criticism, their first knee-jerk reaction is to deflect the feedback," she said. "It could be that the feedback might have made a valuable difference." Her advice: Accept the comments so you can sift through them later and determine their worth.
For the past 16 years, Chambers has coached thousands of people on presenting themselves in public. She offers 11 seminars. Some examples are "Seven ways that women throw their power away," "A room full of strangers: 17 networking tips," "How to give a presentation tomorrow and sleep well tonight" and "What is your body language saying?" She shows up. She is put together. She engages the crowd.
But it wasn't always that way.
"When we were teens, she was almost meek," said Pam's sister, Julie Chambers, 49, an acupuncturist in Santa Monica, Calif. In time, Julie observed that as Pam's self-assertion grew, her need to please everyone subsided. "Now, wherever Pam is, there's always something going on. She's a catalyst for things to happen among people, interactions that maybe wouldn't happen unless she were there."
Acting as a catalyst demands honesty — for which Pam is famous. But wielding diplomacy with that authenticity, and sounding helpful rather than critical, are her talents. "I no longer believe telling the whole truth and being totally honest is necessarily helpful," she said. "Now I try to tell the truth as I see it, if telling it could be constructive and not destructive."
In the middle of a conversation at the lunch table before her speech, her head tilts. "I hear cell phones ringing," she says. To Chambers, cell phones chirping at any presentation is a breach of etiquette. Others at the table take note. Every cell phone is quickly turned off.
The daughter of a still-teaching University of California, Los Angeles classics professor and an artist, stay-at-home mother who died three years ago, Chambers was born in England, where her father was studying as a Rhodes scholar. After growing up in west Los Angeles with her younger sister and brother, she earned her bachelor's degree from San Francisco State in English and communications disorders, both of which she believes have served her well in her current profession. San Francisco remained her home for 13 years during college and the beginnings of a master's program that she thought would lead to a career in speech pathology — until she took a seminar called "Actualizations."
This self-improvement program "taught people to recognize the truth about the direction their lives were meant to take," said Chambers, "which is what it did for me." It was a turning point. At 27, she had found her place in the world, and her self-confidence began to blossom.
Her enthusiasm for Actualizations led to a job. "And unbeknownst to me," said Chambers, "I was expected to stand up in front of groups (up to 300 people) and sell the seminar." This proved agonizing. "I literally would shake like a leaf before any presentations. I lost sleep, punished myself afterward. So I decided that I needed to overcome this fear." With much effort, she did, and in the process, prevailed over her shyness as well.
"After each brief appearance on stage introducing a workshop leader, I quivered in the back of the room and analyzed my feelings," she said. But as her opportunities to speak became more frequent, she learned to get "into a groove" with the audience, watching what worked and what didn't.
Actualizations sent Chambers to Honolulu on a business trip to start seminars here. "It didn't take," she said. "But I did." Four months later, she moved to Hawai'i permanently. That was 21 years ago.
For nine years she served as director and master of ceremonies for the Winners' Circle Breakfast Club, a seminar open to the public on O'ahu each week. In 1985 her then-husband, Doug Toomey, suggested that she groom others to share her role as emcee. "What's next?" participants asked when the four-week training session ended. Jokingly, she replied, "We could do it again!" To her amazement, half the people did, in fact, return.
"That's when I realized I had a niche," she said.
From there, people began asking if she could do something similar for their staff, or coach them on a talk they were giving, or put together handouts in a booklet. "I'm not much of a marketer," said Chambers. "Everything I've developed came from someone's appetite, someone's idea."
This marketing strategy continues; people who hire Chambers tend to invite her back repeatedly. Warren Haruki, president of Verizon Hawai'i since 1992, guessed that Chambers has conducted seminars for his company "maybe 50 times." Said Haruki: "In all these situations, she's done her homework and adapted the class to suit the needs of our employees. The fact that we've used her for so many different types of trainings is a real testament to how effective she is."
Twice divorced and the mother of two sons, Tim, 18, a senior at Hilo High School, and Michael,19, a rapper and skater who works at Moku Hawai'i, Chambers relishes life on her own. "Every day is different," she said. After waking at 6 a.m. to walk two miles with ankle weights from her Niu Valley home, her day might involve any number of tasks related to seminar preparation or private coaching, which can range from a "closet consultation," where she will "literally go through each item hanging in the closet" to make sure it matches the image the client wants to convey, to crafting a presentation the person is giving.
An unvarying part of her routine is a daily respite when she does absolutely nothing. "I give myself a lot of daydream time," she said. "Contrary to what people might think of me because of my energy level, I don't feel it's necessary to fill every single minute with activity."
When she's not daydreaming or reading the classics, Chambers spends her free time crafting; her home is filled with vintage collectibles, decorative florals and her own artwork.
In front of the crowd, the subject shifts from exchanging business cards to shaking hands. "Everyone shake hands with the person next to you," she instructs. "Match the pressure. Don't offer just the fingers; go all the way. It shows equality, confidence and sincerity.
"No," she tells someone, "that's not all the way."
Her counsel is direct. "I'm criticized sometimes for my clarity," she said. "I think people would like to be clear and know where their boundaries are, and what's OK with them, and what isn't. I'm good at that, which I'm told can be intimidating."
Delorese Gregoire, founding director of Winners' Camp for teenagers, wasn't sent to Chambers' seminar by management, but she was a reluctant participant.
Initially, Gregoire had wanted to hire Chambers to do the speaking. "I had a great vision, but I didn't know how to express myself," said Gregoire. "(Pam) is successful, but she doesn't hoard her success. She empowers others."
Gregoire should know. With 15 years, 8,000 graduates, and the fear of public speaking behind her, she has addressed a group of 3,000 students at Aloha Stadium since Chambers helped her reach her potential.
Gregoire embodies the element that attracted Chambers to the seminar business in the first place: "The process of individual transformation just excited me more than anything else," said Chambers. "And it still does. When someone takes my advice, and they come in and they're walking differently, and their voice is a little more audible, that's just so thrilling."
She laughs, illuminating her entire face. "I like to have impact. I like to make a splash. But none of that would mean anything to me if I didn't feel like I was making a difference."