On a recent trip to Brisbane, I followed my nose into Libertine Parfumerie. Elaborate cornicing and cream walls with judicious use of stylish wallpaper panels beautifully offset several large, elaborate black shelves laden with bottles of rare perfumes from around the world.

The woman who warmly greeted me asked what I was after. She gracefully took my awkward “I don’t wear perfume” response in her stride while uncovering what scents I preferred (though I couldn’t name a single perfume I liked). She talked constantly as she sprayed each perfume onto little cardboard strips.

It was clear that she was passionate about perfume and really knew her stuff so I wasn’t surprised to find out that she ran “one hour evenings of opulence” that started with a glass of French champagne and ran through a brief history of perfume and how to recognise and distinguish between varying scents.

Problem was, the information and stories about each perfume brand were coming so thick and fast that I couldn’t hold onto anything she said.

She spoke about ‘the opening notes’, ‘the heart’ and ‘the base’ and so many details that I couldn’t really hear anything. I left with a fistful of strips and an invitation to an evening of sensory opulence, but was no closer to buying a perfume than before I entered.

Honing your details

Communication is not what we say, it’s what people hear. The saleswoman’s stories came so thick and fast, that in the end, I hardly remembered anything. Jackie Onassis had a perfume, and someone else did, and someone famous had a perfume created for her to surprise her on her wedding day, with scents that matched her bouquet. That’s nice.

Share too many details and you risk being forgotten. Language that impresses your colleagues but baffles your prospects is confusing. And confused people don’t buy.

Of course, it’s tempting to add detail, to demonstrate that you know what you’re talking about, to try to please who your talking to and anticipate what they’ll want to know. Sometimes we feel insecure which results in verbal verbosity. But there’s a ‘too much’ line that we need to be wary of.

How much better would the experience have been if the perfumer had slowed down, listened for clues from me about what type of person I am, and focused on finding one perfume that she delighted me with. Then I would be smelling of musk with orchid overtones and a woody heart right now.