Sparkenation: a spark that ignites passion that leads to action that changes what’s normal.
Listen directly to the podcast version of this post here.
In a nutshell
I began speaking professionally in 1991. Five years later I engaged my first coach/mentor, the genius David Griggs from The Speakers Studio in Adelaide, Australia. I wished during my first session with David that I’d hired him 5 years earlier! The full story is in my Changing What’s Normal book.
Since that defining moment in 1996 I’ve left nothing to chance.
Now I’m not saying here that you need to be able to speak professionally. What I am suggesting strongly is that you must be professional when you speak.
The world doesn’t need any more death by powerpoint or boring presentations that fail to inspire.
I’ve learned that there are 4 principles that you really must learn to apply in your own best way.
The first and therefore the fertile ground is knowing your audience.
You need to know their needs, wants, expectations and desires.
You need to know what they believe in and what they don’t.
You need to know their worldviews on the subject you’re speaking about.
You need to understand where they are, where they want to move to and why.
Such knowing makes the second principle (the ploughing) simpler, that of crystalising your message so that it is just right for your audience.
My coach David Griggs used to continually ask me what my message was because in my early work with him I wasn’t crystal clear. In the deep work recommended below I’ll share some resources that I rely on to ensure my message is precisely right for the audience on the day.
Stories that match your message is the seeding of the ground. The best stories are those that people in your audience can feel themselves in.
Becoming a great story teller or story-sharer as I suggested in The Appreciative Leader book is a must have passion and skill for everyone wanting to be a Sparkenator in the 21st century.
Principle 4 and the nurturing component of powerful presentations is your use of pauses and how you make your points.
David taught me to not speak while moving and to always make my points from centre stage or the same place in a room. I learned over time and deliberate practice to become a master of short and long pauses. You can become a master too.
Message, story, point, pause, link to message is a proven method for presenting professionally.
3 recommended actions
1) Speak or present to groups as often as possible. Make this part of your community service. Community organisations are always wanting speakers. Assuming the right kind of practice you will get better, wiser and more valuable the more you speak. And you will enjoy the enormous privilege that presenting is
2) Learn who the best presentation skills coaches and mentors are in your area and work with them.
3) Ask these people to be in the room ocassionally and meet afterwards to explore your messaging, stories, pausing and point making and impact on the audience.
Recommended deep work
Immerse yourself in the following resources:
For messaging I highly recommend ‘The Presentation Coach’ by Graham Davies and ‘Think’ by Matt Church and Peter Cook.
For speaking in general I recommend ‘Speakership’ by Matt Church, Sacha Coburn and Col Fink.
The above resources also contain some great insights into sharing stories. There’s other great books and resources too which are referenced at the companion resources web page to the Remarkable Workplace book here.
Do Your Work.