I have a mantra I adhere to when giving presentations – “effort improves quality.” With that said, I have an admission. Even at my best, I’m still only pretty good at what I do. I’m not the best at anything. Lots of people have some extraordinary skill or trait that they’ve developed mastery over. I don’t. But, what I do have is a “particular set skills.” They are random, shallow, and diverse. Some may say my knowledge is a mile wide and an inch deep. All these skills originate from a desire to learn something new. Learning is very rewarding for me. I’m happiest when I’m learning. I’m even fine studying something that I know I will never use, or maybe only use once. Want examples? Well, for one, I’m an ordained minister…in three religions. I’ve never officiated a wedding (but technically I could). I make videos, but very few people watch them. I’ve butchered a lamb once (probably the most manly thing I’ve done). I’ve tried to write a book. Still trying to find a publisher for that. I’ve skydived once, no desire to do that again. I’ve built a play structure in my backyard for the kids. My dad had to fix it. I’ve been on TV once in high school. I’ve set a Guinness Book of World Records record for most people kicking a hacky sack (see previous comment). I’ve run a marathon, or two. And I like to bake fancy cakes. Everything I do I do for a reason. Whether it’s to overcome a fear, challenge myself, empower myself, or just grow as a person. I’m a big effort guy. If I were a professional athlete, I’d be the small white guy with a “high motor.” Clichés aside, I don’t think I’d be diminishing my value if I say my effort often outperforms my talent. It is possible to hide many, many flaws with hard work and a bit of wherewithal.
“Go to SLEEP!”
As a parent, you had to know a bedtime anecdote would pop up at some point, right? I guess it’s time to tap that well. For those uninitiated, in parenting circles there is no greater equivalent to the business world than the nightly ritual that is bedtime. I’ve never met a parent who doesn’t experience the negotiating, the angst, the frustration, or disappointment of trying to put young kids to sleep. As a parent you can’t help but feel angry and hopeless.
Every. Single. Day.
No matter what you do, nothing seems to convince the kiddos to quiet down, close their eyes, and go to sleep. And when they finally quiet down and drift off, it’s more a submission than a victory. Well, that’s how bedtimes feel to me. Feel free to disagree, if you want.
Can you guess what else may feel like a no-win submission? Yeppers…talking at meetings. After all, you never really win a meeting, you only succeed enough to make it through to another day. Meetings can be exhausting, frustrating, demoralizing, and a pain in the ass. And like bedtimes, they are unavoidable.
Am I wrong or does it seem like the most vocal coworkers tend to talk and fuss a lot, kind of negating the benefits of having a meeting (ala, kids giving every excuse not to go to sleep)? Although it may not be your role to facilitate the meeting, you should at least make the effort to contribute to it. You are a valuable employee and you do have good opinions. These opinions should be shared with the group.
This is for my peeps, yo!
Today, we’ll continue with our guide to presenters: how to address different audiences. This post – talking to your peers.
Ok, maybe I should restate that. Peers are your colleagues, cooperators, collaborators, cohorts, or classmates. These are the professionals doing work similar to yours. If you are an author, this would be like doing a book reading with fellow writers. If you’re a teacher, this would be like sharing insights at a teachers’ workshop. And, if you are like me, this would be presenting new research to other scientists. Presenting to peers is a bit of a dichotomy. Theoretically, they should be the easiest group for which to present. They have the same background, same education, same understanding, and same expectations as you. They traditionally like what you like and share similar life experiences. Therefore, you should be able to easily design your talk. You should design it as something you would like to see. That is a fairly straightforward concept. Conversely, peers are also one of the hardest groups to present to because they have the same background, education, understanding, and expectations as you. They like what you like. They know what you know. There is often very little room for error. You make a mistake and they will all know – immediately. If you use poor or suspect methods for your research, they will quickly call you out on it. If your conclusions stink, oh yeah, they can easily smell that, too. When compared to other audiences, there is no greater risk-reward than working with a roomful of peers. If you are good, you will continue to be invited back, again and again. Eventually, you may even keynote a conference or meeting. But, if you trip over yourself enough times, you will begin to lose face, lose partners, and lose funding. And after that, you are done. Don’t let that happen, ok?
Parenting & Public Speaking. Together
The behaviors, experiences, and techniques parents use everyday can improve YOUR NEXT BIG SPEECH. Whether it be using silly voices or just playing with the kids, these actions improve self-confidence, stage presence, and audience engagement. And that’s just the beginning…