FranklinCovey Consultant Blogs | Todd Wangsgard | Crowd
Lately I’ve been working with quite a few clients who are refining their presentation skills. Mostly, we’re working on their ability to give presentations face-to-face. Although everyone is expected, with increasing frequency, to deliver high quality messages over the phone, web and in print media, there is something that makes face-to-face presentations particularly challenging and rewarding – both at the same time. That something is you!
In no other medium do you put your own voice, face and body movement on display than when you are in the same room as your audience. There is a connection you are capable of making with people that comes from no other medium. Trust me – I conduct a fair number of webinars each month, some with live web-cam feed. It is not the same. When in-person eye contact is made and repeated throughout a presentation a presenter makes that ‘emotional handshake’ with the audience in a way that communicates instantly (no half-second delay) that I hear you, I understand you, we’re on the same page. It can also communicate that you don’t get it, it isn’t clear, or we’re not on the same page. Course correction can follow much more smoothly, and we move on.
The next time you speak or train in front of a crowd, plug in a small digital camcorder (Flip-cam style) so you can record a few minutes of your presentation. Review three times – first with the volume up, secondly with the volume off, and thirdly looking away from the screen, but with the volume up. Take some notes on what you see or don’t see, what you hear or don’t hear. Video feedback is some of the rawest, yet honest feedback you can get.
Finally, do everything you can to get out of your notes, out of your own thoughts of “how do I look,” and out of your stress over ‘is my delivery smooth,’ and concentrate more and more on your audience. Your genuine, connected face-to-face interaction will facilitate increased retention as well as better rapport.
A couple weeks ago I finished my second marathon. My effort was nothing terribly notable, except that I was hoping to beat my first time by a significant margin. I did. I ran 15 minutes faster than my first.
However, my time is discouraging when I compare it to my potential. I’ve only been a runner for about 3 years; I know I have plenty of room for improvement. Plus, I know how fast other guys my same age and build are running. Scores of them are significantly faster than I am. For example, I came in 174th place in my age group (out of 416). The guy who took second place in the marathon OVERALL was one year older than me! Now that’s something to strive for.
So what’s the best way to improve? Compare myself to me or compare myself to others? I think the answer is both.
Often in business we compare ourselves to the rest of the field. How are the top players in our industry faring. Where is our market share? How fast are we growing? Are we number one? There is healthy competition that can motivate an entire organization to rally behind significant revenue and growth goals, in pursuit of that top prize.
Then again, it’s also important that we don’t just settle for being on top of the heap. Oh sure, it feels good to be in first place. But we should also compare ourselves against our own potential. When we don’t, we could be settling for good enough instead of becoming our very best.
Living The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a tried and true method of balancing both approaches to success. The Private Victory is represented by the first three Habits of Be Proactive, Begin with the End in Mind, and Put First Things First. These lead me to mastery over self. Coupled with the Public Victory of Habits 4, 5 and 6, Think Win-Win, Seek First to Understand…, and Synergize, they permit me to collaborate with others in a way that differentiates our collective performance, allowing us to stand apart from the crowd and achieve our very best.
So, I suppose the next marathon I’m running in May 2011 will give me a chance to test this theory. My focus during training: Keep one eye on pushing for ever-faster splits and pace while training my other eye on the pace of those who ran the same race last year.
Ask yourself: In what ways can I and my organization learn from the successes of our competition? Where are we not testing our potential, because we’ve become complacent with “good enough?”