Mar 31, 2008

Why Don't Leaders Learn How To Speak?

Have you ever watched a talk, video, or listened to a radio show with a business leader, only to be astonished by the number of "uhs, ums, and you-know" comments that slip into their speaking?

I just watched a video featuring an interview with the CEO of a multi-billion dollar software company. The interviewer, a journalist, asked the guest CEO a series of questions, starting with "how did you get into this business?" which is a very common first question. In fact, I almost always start my radio show with that question, myself. So, you'd think the CEO would be PREPARED for such a question.

How did he respond?

"Well, you know, I was-uh, in the software-uh, business-uh, for a number of years. I got the idea-uh, to-uh, start off with this and-and-um..."

At that point, I clicked my browser and ended the interview. 

It really was THAT bad. How in the heck did THAT guy get to be the CEO of a company that big? If you ask me, it was luck. Perhaps he has selling skills. But, for sure, he lacks speaking skills. Someone close to him ought to have slipped him a note with one word: TOASTMASTERS. It might have helped this CEO to receive professional speaking training prior to appearing on TV or Radio shows. One thing is for sure: I won't invite him to speak on my radio show (which, coincidentally, was the purpose for my watching this video I'm mentioning).

I recall a talk I went to earlier this year about professional speaking. A former professional trainer, who now is a member of SCORE, delivered the talk. One thing he mentioned is to have a series of topics that you KNOW you can transition into comfortably. In addition, he recommended recording and then playing back to watch for things like hands in pockets, stammering, uhs, and-and, you-know, um, and other crummy phrases that must be wiped from the speaker's vocabulary.

It's too bad that the CEO never saw that talk. Or, if he has received such sage advice, he certainly isn't following it.

Get prepared to speak!

Are you prepared as a speaker? If you're leading a company, even though you are busy, it is vital to your success to become a polished speaker. My parents were both members of toastmasters and recommend it highly. Personally, I find that focusing on ways to improve talks is a challenge and also exciting. 

The rewards in delivering a successful public talk is threefold:

1. You are positioned as an expert on the topic. People are more drawn to you if you are an engaging speaker because they want to learn from someone who has "been there and done that" and reap the seeds of wisdom you sow.  You will find that some of these people may buy your book (or other products) that you sell at the back of the room. 

2. People are more interested to hire you or your company. There is a direct relationship between the number of new clients to ARRiiVE Business Solutions and the number of talks I give. I find that my speaking directly influences my new-customer inflow. Of course, my talks are also rated 9.4 out of 10 on a regular basis. I'm working to get that up to 9.8, so I can improve, but nevertheless, my speaking IS paying off handsomely for me.

3. Speaking is personally rewarding. I get charged-up when I speak. There's a sense of anticipation that drives me to create better articles, better talks, better e-books, and better books. Public speaking is my way of honing all of the "knowledge" products I create in order to first test for viability and second release through a more tested process. It's beneficial to know if a topic is "hot" for a certain audience. Go speak about it and you'll learn which parts of the talk resonate and which fall flat. This is especially true when speaking to a group of 20 or less. 

Are you interested in a speaker for your business event? If so, I'm available for talks on Living Your Dreams, From Cold To Gold, Blogging For Business, and Successful Email Marketing (for details see my Scott Andrews Speaking page). In addition, if you book speakers, connect with me, as I can assist you in many ways, too. My network of business professionals includes other business speakers and I enjoy being part of extended programs.

Make sure you're prepared for your talks by putting together an outline. Script out, word-for-word, the particular topics or questions you're likely to get asked about frequently. Practice by recording with a video camera and/or and audio recording device. Listen to the playback, and try to pick out the problem words from your speech and see if you can't eliminate them. It is easier to eliminate these phrases when you are prepared to speak on that topic.

Common questions you're SURE to get asked in an interview may include:

"How did you get started doing this?"
"What sparked the idea? What was your 'aha' moment?"
"What do you feel is your biggest contribution to this topic?"

There's more, but those three will be asked of you almost every time you speak. Frankly, if you're not asked those questions, you ought to speak to them anyway as your audience will WANT to know this information.

Last, get feedback each and every time you speak. This feedback will point you to your weak spots and help you get better for the next talk you deliver. May you deliver it well!

Copyright © 1999-2008 by ARRiiVE Business Solutions. All Rights Reserved. SUBSCRIBE.

No comments:

Post a Comment