Ever been to a boring business dinner — a night of one uninspiring speech after another? Are you nodding your head? Though someone’s time and attention are valuable commodities, these “commodities” are routinely wasted. For corporate America, this is burning money.
Companies and nonprofits too often fail to capitalize on the value of better speaking. Top executives routinely overrate their speaking skill and no subordinate is about to tell them otherwise. A fortune has been invested in high-priced, brand-name firms who deliver cookie-cutter presentation training that has left us with the same problem — boring dinners and boring meetings.
Being interesting is a skill and that skill will make you more money. Too often, speakers focus on what they care about instead of what their audience cares about. They provide too much detail and too little relevance. They read too often when their approach should be conversational. We get far too much blah, blah, blah instead of passion and enthusiasm. The result is lost opportunity and lost business. It’s burning money.
Mark Grimm is a former TV news anchor who has conducted hundreds of seminars and does one-on-one coaching. He will share the secret of being interesting with you….or you can keep burning money.
No one is born a great speaker. You have to work at it. Speaking is a skill that needs to be developed, like any other skill. The claim someone is a “natural” at speaking underestimates what it really takes to be great. Some people say Derek Jeter is a natural, too. Then, why does he work so hard at batting and infield practice?
It’s true some people are more extroverted by nature and more comfortable in front of people. But comfort level can be altered and being relaxed is just one aspect of great speaking. The first step in great speaking is good research — finding out what the audience really wants to get out of the presentation and then designing a program to exceed those expectations. Great speaking is about editing, taking a large body of information and paring it down for the audience. Sharp editing and the use of concise language are learned skills and very few people do them really well. Listening is also needed in presentations, a skill that doesn’t come at birth either. How well does your two-year-old listen? How about your teenager?
A speaker once told me he didn’t need my coaching help because he was able to easily “wing it” in front of the audience. I replied, “Yes, it appeared like you were winging it.” He wasn’t connected with what his audience was thinking.
Speaking also requires us to get constant feedback from our audience — what they like and don’t like. It is the only way to get better. No truly great speaker is ever completely satisfied with his/her performance.
Great speaking, as much as any field I know, is open to everyone. It’s not what you were born with, it’s how you use what you have. With the right coaching, the sky is the limit.
The writer is a professional speaker with many speaking coaching clients. Don’t hesitate to contact him for help. His speaking book is available here.
There’s one New Year’s resolution open to everyone that could greatly enhance your personal and professional life — better public speaking. Whether you’re a novice fighting nerves or have been doing it a while, big improvement is possible.You don’t need a Ph.D, you don’t have to have blazing speed or be slim, tall, or rich.
Better speaking requires only that you finally take the initiative and follow the right path for success. I began as a poor speaker and procrastinated for years about getting better. And the opportunities passed me by. The path to success, which I have followed myself, is straightforward:
1-Take the Initiative. Why go through life avoiding speaking when being better at it could change your life?
2- Prepare Differently. Focus more on what your audience wants, not on what you want.
3- Confront your Nervousness. Don’t let the butterflies control you. Write down the things you fear and have a plan for dealing with each one.
4- Deliver Value. Give the audience tangible takeaways from your presentation, always asking them afterwards what they got from it.
5- Speak More Often. Opportunities are everywhere —- places of worship, clubs, youth sports, civic endeavors, work, etc. Practice builds confidence and proficiency,
6- Ask for Help. You don’t have to do it alone. There are people who can help you. Seek them out.
My speaking book is just $14 because I never wanted price to stop someone who truly wanted to change their life. Honestly, that’s a start.
Is 2012 going to be your year? Why not?
The writer is a professional speaker and award-winning trainer.
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