Striving for Improvement

Are youspeakertrainingsuccess looking to be the best you can be – in business and in life? I know it’s something I’m used to striving for with my sporting and Olympian background, and it’s how I approach most areas beyond sport.  It’s how I approach speaking – for both myself and for my clients.

“The principle is competing against yourself. It’s about self improvement, about being better than you were the day before.” Steve Young

Improvement is about personal growth and it’s also about getting results – doing what you can to get the results that you desire.

Speaking to audiences is a form of performance and there are always areas to improve.  I am a keen student of ‘distinctions’ – what is the difference that makes the difference?

It’s what I look for in other speakers that I work with.  Even speakers that have confidence, a good message and good delivery can benefit from a public speaking tip that will help take them to another level.

Working recently with students speaking in a local TEDx event, there was a varied level of ability amongst the speakers. One speaker was quite experienced, and I loved how he still took on advice that could bring out even more of his speech.  One small tip made a huge difference to his punchline that drew an obvious positive crowd response………..Magic!

That’s what I love about feedback.  Even though negative feedback can hurt (I admit I have a soft shell) when you sit back and look at it objectively, you can see that there are areas for improvement.

That’s why I like feedback that focuses on how to improve, rather than the kind of feedback that likes to point out just what is wrong.  I’ve written about that before and you can read that here.

So where is there room for improvement?  Hopefully you have downloaded the Speaker Checklist by now to see how you rate on 23 points.  If not, sign up top right.

Here are three key areas one could improve with speaking

  • Confidence – even naturally confident people might find themselves on shaky ground in front of a large audience, or a tough audience posing challenging questions.  What if things go wrong?  There are ways to improve with confidence so that you fully own the stage whenever you are on it.
  • Content – I’m always refining my content, finding better ways to get my message across.  The more prepared you are, the more opportunity you have to find the fine distinctions in your communication that can make a difference.  Introduction, beginning, end and the stories you use are just some of the ways to think about working on.
  • Expression – This is an area less people pay attention to, and thus can pay the biggest dividends when looking to take your speaking from OK to WOW.  This is everything but the words – how you move, how you use your voice, how you pause, and more.

Athletes have to pay attention to distinctions as important as a bend in a joint at the wrong time – something that could cost a fraction of a second or a deflection of a ball.  This can be the difference between winning or not…..

….the difference between getting the result you want, and the result you don’t.

Think about what result you want to get as a speaker and a leader, and decide what areas need to improve to get them.

Do you have a story of where a small distinction made a big impact on your result from speaking? Please share in the comments.