My journey to effective communications began in the small town of Statesville, North Carolina where I must’ve had the world’s wisest parents. Herman and Adabelle Boyd had three boys, all totally different. And they encouraged us in our differences. Bill had a keen intellect and he found himself majoring in physics at Davidson College. My middle brother, Dick, was a natural caregiver and, with their support, he became a doctor.
And then there was me.
We had horses and cattle, chickens, a goat or two, all the farmyard animals. I worked around the barnyard because Daddy didn’t give us boys a choice. But my heart was never in it. Feeding the hogs was not my passion.
My heart was in entertaining others. In making ‘em laugh, in being on stage. And my parents were my best audience. They laughed for me. They encouraged my strengths, just as they encouraged Bill’s and Dick’s. They encouraged me right onto the stage, into roles in every play put on during my junior and senior high school career. They encouraged me right into volunteering as an announcer for the local radio station at the age of fifteen.
Now, the only people listening to that show were probably my parents. But it launched me into what I thought was a career in performing, a career in show biz, a career in entertaining.
It was years before I realized I was actually in the business of communicating.
Dialoguing, not monologuing. I was in the business of asking questions and listening carefully to the answers, in the business of genuine interest in someone other than myself. In the business of sensitivity and empathy. And, yes, I was also in the business of making all that communication compelling, interesting – yes, entertaining.
In fact, most of us make our living communicating in some way or another. Most of our waking hours are spent in conversations, one-on-one or one-to-a-boardroom, sometimes one-to-a-thousand. When was the last time you made the effort to be sure you were doing this communicating effectively?
Over the years, I’ve learned to develop my own personal style by watching how other powerful speakers, including my mentor, Charlie Cullen, set themselves apart from the pack. Charlie’s physical package, his personal style, was one of his most powerful calling cards; he was built like a linebacker but dressed like a peacock. He commanded attention wherever he went. From him, I learned how important it is to know exactly who I am – and to be at pains to communicate that.
I’ve learned the formidable power of passion. Fire in the belly for your message. Plenty of us are moved listening to the energy of a Tony Robbins or the enthusiasm of an Oprah Winfrey.
I’ve learned to manage my fear instead of allowing it to manage me.
I’ve learned to speak with my entire body – eyes, face, posture, gestures, even the clothes I wear – and not just my voice. And I’ve learned, by the way, to use my voice more effectively, as well.
I’ve learned how to plan a strong presentation. I’ve learned to practice, practice, practice.
But perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned is that this toolbox I’ve just described – personal style, fire in the belly, body language, voice, face, eyes, smile, preparation – this toolbox is one we’ve all been given.
Yes, even you.
Every tool you need to be an effective communicator is in your toolbox today.
To one degree or another, we’ve all been given the tools. Now it’s time to learn to use them. It’s time to sharpen the ones that are rusty; to get stronger in the areas where we’re weakest. No matter who we are, no matter what our circumstances, it’s time to learn to use that toolbox.
If you’re serious about advancing your skills and making an investment in yourself, we invite you to our Excellence in Speaking Institute. Classes are filling up quickly so don’t delay! Visit this page to read feedback from our graduates about their experience.