Editor’s Note: “The Economic Development Side” originally appears in the Pine Bluff Regional Chamber of Commerce’s weekly member e-newsletter. It is written by Rhonda Dishner, the Economic Development Alliance’s executive assistant.


Is it better for a speech to be interesting or informative or entertaining? Do listeners prefer a little bit of all three? When is a speech too long? Are you really listening?


Answer mentally if you wish, but those are rhetorical questions for the purpose of introducing a few thoughts on another side to economic development.


There are numerous styles for preparing a good talk — whether it’s one carefully written out beforehand or delivered impromptu with no notes at all. Some program speakers believe in starting off with humor to get the audience’s attention. Another’s advice would be to keep it brief and simple. Of course, any referenced facts must be correct. And the presentation must be persuasive in order to make an audience connection.


An older model for speakers was the suggestion to “tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them.” That method may be considered a tad redundant today, but reinforcing a good point (or good news) can’t be all bad.


Lou Ann Nisbett and Caleb McMahon of the Economic Development Alliance frequently are asked to be program speakers for local civic and service organizations. The clubs’ members invariably want to know what’s going on in Pine Bluff and Jefferson County in terms of economic development and what new companies are coming to town.


Regardless of the size of the gathering, Nisbett and McMahon typically do use these speaking opportunities to talk about projects that have located or expanded in the community recently, or they give generalized details about certain prospects considering the area for an investment.


They also note that much of their work is strictly confidential in the beginning stages but that a successful project location can give the whole community a sense of pride. And they express appreciation for the community’s support of their economic development efforts by passing the sales tax that provides funding for incentives to help secure additional “yes” project decisions.


Although their speaking styles may differ, both Nisbett and McMahon are adept at reciting interesting, informative, and entertaining facts about Pine Bluff possibilities. From the immediate feedback, it appears their audiences are really listening.