If you're like many people, the thought of speaking in front of a group of people is like bamboo under your nails. Truth be told, the audience wants to see you succeed and doesn't want to see a crash-and-burn on the stage. The audience is rooting for you.
Next time you have to take to the podium, keep the following in mind:
When I wrote my first book in 2004 my publicist told me, "you've got to write articles to get your message out and sell books!" Being a good soldier I saluted and contemplated how I was going to get it done. My publicist turned me on to a ghost writer who wrote an article under my guidance. After paying way too much for the article and seeing the finished product, I vowed never again to have someone else write for me. I decided that if I had crappy articles it was going to be because I was the one who wrote them, not because I paid someone to write crappy articles for me.
When I wrote my first article, I decided on the topic and just started writing. It was a disaster. The content was disjointed, lacked focus, and made no sense. It also took me hours and hours to produce a piece of garbage. There had to be a better way. Fortunately I found it after a lot of trial and error.
As a child and young adult I was very independent. Regardless of the situation, if I was doing something I was determined to do it myself and not ask for anyone's help. In my eyes asking for someone's help was akin to admitting defeat or somehow showing others that I was weak or incompetent. My attitude was "If someone else can do it, I can do it". How Naive.
What we learned was more than what we had anticipated; not necessarily about their purchases, but about how they worked and the importance of urgency versus importance in their jobs.
Within a few months of my open door policy, I saw my own productivity drop and my frustration level rise because I kept getting interrupted by people taking me up on my open-door policy. My open-door policy soon turned into a series of random interruptions that caused me to not get my stuff done. I came to recognize that I needed to be accessible to people but that I could control the accessibility through scheduled time. Open-door means be accessible, not come in whenever you want.
Recently I was asked by a journalist how I practiced public speaking. At this point in my life, getting up in front of an audience is pretty much second nature. However, it wasn't always so. I had to work hard at the skill and had to fail A LOT before I found my schtick and was able to get pretty OK at it.
Here are the highlights from the interview along with six take-aways to help you be a better public speaker.
So let's cut to the chase...
You may be a great consultant, one who effectively applies his or her wisdom and experience to help his or her client solve some tough business problem. That's all fine and well. When it comes to facilitation, though, it's a different ballgame and a very different approach to problem solving. I like to think of the difference as follows:
Jane was a group manager over a team of six buyers for a large department store chain. Her team specialized in buying house-wares, including linens, sheets, towels and small appliances. Her team met every week to discuss advertised specials for upcoming weeks and any supplier issues that the team needed to be aware of. There was one linens supplier, Patty’s Linens, that has had some difficulty with product quality and the department store was experiencing higher-than-normal returns on the product. Two weeks earlier, the supplier submitted a plan for how they were going to improve the quality of their product. The department store decided to keep the supplier on for three more months to evaluate their plan and give the supplier an opportunity to resolve the quality issues. With this as backdrop, we eavesdrop on Jane’s current team meeting:
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