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“If all you’ve got is a hammer, all your problems look like nails.” – Pat Boyd
People have laid down the tools of communication in the name of being professional. We think we shouldn’t risk anything when we stand up to speak, that a lifeless face, a monotonous tone is somehow more business-like. The idea of getting animated, being expressive, using gestures doesn’t fit our idea of the serious corporate pose.
But that idea interferes with authentic expression.
You’ve got a toolbox. It’s full – chockfull of priceless communications tools. But if you’re like most presenters, you’re using only a couple of your tools. You’re slamming the lid shut, keeping the rest of your tools under wraps. And like most presenters, you’ll probably put up a pretty good fight when I ask you to take a few of those rusty tools out and put them to work.
Using them, you’ll say, is “just not me.” Or, “But I feel phony.”
But you’re letting potent tools go to waste. Gestures. Posture. Eyes. A face that’s expressive, enlivened, not blank or frozen in seriousness. Purposeful movement. Vocal variety.
You’ve got a million-dollar toolbox in your hands. Don’t slam it shut!
We know what you’ll say. We know because we hear it every time we open the doors at the Excellence in Speaking Institute.
“Well, that’s fine for you. But it’s just not me. I’m kind of low-key. I’ve always been serious. Business-like. This is who I am and I’m not comfortable trying to be something I’m not.”
Heard it all before. Guess what? You’re not as effective as you can be, either.
And, by the way, it is you – the you that you’re holding back, stifling by being on guard against feeling foolish or becoming vulnerable. It’s almost as if you mentally employed a bodyguard to keep you stiff, formal, safe from expressing the enthusiasm and energy we all naturally feel before we learn to rein ourselves in.
Please… for the moment, suspend judgment. That bodyguard that’s keeping your physical tools under lock and key? Let’s send him out for coffee, and while he is gone, let’s explore your valuable assets.
Let’s jump out of the box we place ourselves in. Let’s stop worrying about our level of comfort. Communication isn’t about how comfortable we are. It’s about how comfortable the listener is and how effective the sender is.
Look at it this way. If you’ve got a teenage son or daughter, or niece or nephew, you wouldn’t say, “Okay, you’re eighteen now. You’re cooked. Done. No need to do any growing, any changing. Right this minute you’re everything you ever need to be in life.”
Of course you wouldn’t. Because you know better. You know that teenager is going to make leaps of progress over the next 20 years of her life. She’s going to gain wisdom, learn to dress differently, add to her mental and emotional portfolio in ways she never dreams of the day she picks up her high school diploma.
If we’re lucky, we learn all our lives. Lifetime learners. Students forever.
So get lucky. Let’s learn.
If you’re serious about advancing your communication skills and making an investment in yourself, we invite you to our Excellence in Speaking Institute. Classes in 2023 are already filling up quickly! We look forward to helping you power up this power skill!
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