I Don’t Love Public Speaking

Did you know that?

Did you know that I actually do not love getting on stage, having the spot light on me, being the extreme center of attention?

I get on stage because it is such a powerful way to spread my message.

I get on stage for the ways I believe I can change lives. I get on stage because I want to share the ways of communicating in business that I have seen transform teams, presentations and client exchanges.

It’s not all altruism, of course.

I am giddy when I watch an audience members slow smile as I relay the precise, ineffective “Business Speak” that they have to hear droned about their company every day. I love when I see two people in the audience share a knowing glance and head nod as I talk about the horror of slides full of bullet points being read – verbatim – in a way-too-long company meeting. It feels awesome to have that kind of immediate feedback that what I am saying is resonating.

But ultimately, I get on stage because I really want to change the world.

I want to spread the word that there is a better way to live, to work, to talk with each other. And I know that those who don’t know about this better way yet aren’t stupid (of course they aren’t) – they are simply well-trained from a lifetime of boring business communication all around them. It’s not their fault. I want them to know there is a simple way to shift into effective, powerful, real communication – even in business.

There is no better medium that I know of for spreading a message far and wide than public speaking.

That’s why I gather my anxious butterflies into formation and hit the stage. It isn’t because I love being on stage for the activity of it. Though I do love the stage for the outcomes it produces. 

How about you? Why do you do what you do? Is it possibly not as obvious as we might think?

[Thank you, Joel Olives, for this breath-taking butterfly in flight image.]

People Want More Peaceful Business Networking Feelings

What would it take for you to get up, ready and out the door to attend a totally optional business education session at 7:30 in the morning?

You’d have to be pretty motivated, right?

Two weeks ago, I facilitated a Business Success Program session for the Bend Chamber of Commerce called Networking with Impact & Ease. Shockingly, sixty-five people showed up for this 7:30am session, in spite of their alternative delicious option to sleep in a bit longer or have just one more cup of coffee in their robes at home.

Not only did these 65 people rally to their cars that brisk, still-dark October morning – they participated their hearts out in our session.

Why would this many people in our somewhat “small town” area go to so much trouble to be in that room that morning?

Because networking freaks people out. Networking of the fancy, businessy kind is so daunting to so many people that the promise of some ease around the topic – and effectiveness, too! – is just too good to pass up.

I’m excited to share excerpts of that talk with you via video as soon as I get that video clipped and edited into useful bits. In the meantime, I’m just really curious – how do you feel about “Networking”? What comes up for you when you think about going to an official business networking event? And where else do you “network” that may not be a traditional networking venue?

Business Communication Should NOT Be Boring

When I began teaching public speaking classes at San Francisco State University, I was still working during the day at a high tech company. This was the late 1990’s and we were, like most start-up companies in Silicon Valley, working long hours toward a big Vision. It was an exciting time of stacked soda cans and late night pizza parties. The buzz in the office was palpable, the dream driving each of us to dig deep into our strengths and passion.

That is, until it came time to do a company presentation.

Something about that medium – business public speaking presentation – sends flat-line vibes to the presenter. It’s a strange thing, really, because the public speaking forum is such a powerful place. You have the opportunity to Move the Room with your ideas, information, expression.

I don’t blame those presenters, though.

In most business environments, we’ve got few or no mentors for great public speaking.

The dry, bullet-point driven, I-need-my-slides-as-my-notes style presenting is so commonplace, no one thinks to question it. They just dread it, instead. Speaking or listening, they dread it.

But here’s the thing: it can’t be like that anymore. The days of huge, venture-backed adventures in entrepreneurship are (mostly) gone. Now, every single day counts in the assessment of a great idea’s viability. The public speaking forum has GOT to be maximized. And it can be.

Here’s the thing that drives me batty: Business is such a rich environment for both personal and professional growth. It’s the perfect place to reach for one’s edges, to seek brilliance. It’s where your own version of success and feedback are both available (after a ton of hard work and willingness to hear the crappy stuff you don’t want to hear.) Why aren’t we using the business environment to reach for our brilliance?

So, I’m committing to change this whole dynamic. Here forward. NO more boring business communication. Because we are human beings doing business. We’re going to act like it.

You with me?!