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.
Ever work at a place that could use better communication? Why do most people chuckle when I ask that at seminars?
Better communication offers huge potential for enhanced productivity and morale, but it often remains an untapped resource.
Here’s five ways to ensure your company/organization isn’t missing out:
1- Accept its importance.
Management must place a high priority on its value and think about creating a strong culture, not applying band aid solutions.
2- Get into the Heads of Audiences.
Communication isn’t about telling your employees stuff. It’s about engagement, about learning from each other. Make clear what is in it for them.
Ask your audiences what they think, frequently, and allow them to give anonymous feedback. Share the results with them.
4- Practice Being interesting is a skill, work at it. Set benchmarks for progress.
Bill Gates once said, “The thing I do best is share my enthusiasm.” Of all his skills, he points to enthusiasm as a core business asset. You must believe in your mission, and live it. Others are noticing.
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 LeBron James is a natural, too. Then, why does he work so hard at improving his shooting, defense and passing?
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. You can find anything you need to become a great speaker, to regain your confidence and you learn so much more about yourself — 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.