When you’re putting together your content for a presentation, do you ever say to yourself:
- What am I supposed to say?
- What do they want me to say?
- I need to sound professional.
- I have to sound smooth and polished.
I call these our “oughts and shoulds.” Why do these thoughts fly through our heads? We are all looking for approval from our leaders, peers and clients. And, this concern is so normal. However, what’s tragic is we often don’t even realize we’re stuck in these restrictive thought patterns. These oughts and shoulds are insidious, and they can steal our voice and lock us up.
Let’s look at it from the audience’s perspective. Who are those speakers you find impossible to resist? Who are the ones you could listen to all day long? Aren’t they the ones who speak their truth with abandon and speak from a place of authenticity with a pure voice? They’re real, they’re raw, and maybe even a little messy. Their sincerity, their rawness, their humanness captures you. You somehow connect with them personally on a very human level. So, how can we get to that place of truth, abandon and authenticity? How can we put an end to the oughts and shoulds?
When you’re home alone and soul-searching for your content, ask yourself:
- “How do I feel about my topic?” (Be honest.)
- “Off the record, what would I really like to say to these people?”
Nine times out of ten, your truth is exactly what will meet the needs of your listeners, but we don’t trust speaking that openly. “NO! It’s not professional enough.” “It’s not interesting enough.” “It’s just not good enough.” Lies. Lies. Lies.
So, NOW what to do?
Bring ALL your good, real, raw ideas and passion to your team rehearsal and let them hear it. Trust your team. What will happen will amaze you! Your colleagues will applaud you, and they will have the right perspective to let you know if you’ve gone too far. Truth is, other people can edit our content or “clean us up.” We can’t clean ourselves up; we don’t have the right perspective, and we get all up in our heads. The result? A stiff, boring presentation. So, trust your teammates.
Bottom line — great presenting is a balance between speaking truth from your heart with a steadfast commitment to serving your audience’s needs. Speak your truth, help your listeners, and trust your team. Your “oughts and shoulds” won’t stand a chance.
Tales from the Field
After a two-day training session with Graceworks, I went home to be with my family for the weekend. My wife was having a girls-out-of-town weekend, and I was playing Mr. Mom with our awesome three-and-a-half-year-old son and five-year-old daughter.
It was time for the children to brush their teeth and get ready for bed. They hate to brush their teeth, let alone floss. They get this disgruntled look as they march up the steps to their bathroom. After a fight or two, we can usually get them to do a half-hearted brush — if we’re lucky.
As I saw them moping up the steps that night, a light bulb flashed in my head — “I’m going to test drive what we’ve been learning from the Graceworks’ training.”
They came in the bathroom, heads down — not happy campers — and there I stood with toothbrushes locked and loaded with toothpaste. I handed them their brushes and just let it rip! I sang and shouted, “I brush my teeth because they are AWESOME!” I was dancing around the bathroom, acting as big as I could, throwing my arms up to the ceiling, singing, shouting and smiling. I just kept repeating the song. I even added a second one; “I take care of my teeth because I LOVE MY TEETH!!” They looked at me like I had three heads…for about two seconds.
Then they started smiling, laughing, singing, shouting, and having a blast with me! They thought this party was the coolest thing. A little passion changed their approach to brushing their teeth. All it took was 10 seconds of courage for me to go BIG, GET OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE, OWN IT, and just be real in the moment. When I realized how contagious that little effort was and the effect it had on my kids, I kept the momentum going and got ’em flossing!
It’s a week later, and we’ve gone big and bold every night. It’s easy and fun! That’s when I realized just how effective and contagious communication can be. All I tried to do was “help my listeners” enjoy brushing their teeth, and they didn’t think it was dumb or wrong. Going big and bold and stepping out of my comfort zone has transformed our teeth-brushing experience!
Fred Thompson III
Vice President, Kinsley Construction
Baltimore, Maryland Area
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