To improve readers' advisory skills in staff, it is advisable to stay away from the dreaded staff meeting synopsis. There are people who can booktalk and then there is the rest of us - doomed to relay pieces of plot out of order with a lot of "um" and "i can't remember" sandwiched in the middle. I often recall sitting through too many minutes of detailed plot reconstructions, "and there was a dog, and he had a spot and he had a hat and his hat was blue except when he went to parties and his hat was purple." This really does not improve someone's readers' advisory skills since boring someone with plot details is not the goal. Staff should be able to identify appeal factors and be able to promote the book to a customer in a few seconds.
At staff meetings, try to develop activities which will better promote discussion of appeal factors and book talking skills. Spend time to develop these activities in advance and allow your staff the opportunity to prepare ahead of time. Set a time limit for people and have one of your more experienced staff go first to set a good example. Encourage everyone to participate and have positive comments for everyone.
Here are some activities to try:
Reader Interview - give the interviewer a list of questions of which they pick a random five to ask the reader about the book. The questions should focus on appeal factors and allow the reader to think more deeply about the reading experience. Example questions: What food does this book make you want to eat? What would be the best place to read this book? Who might you suggest this book to?
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner - Invite your favourite author to dinner. What would you serve him/her? What would you ask him/her? Who else might you invite?
I'd Never Read Those - Talk about the genres that you don't and never read. Tell the group why you don't like this genre. Have you tried to read any of the books? Why might people enjoy these books?