image credits Martin de Arriba via @unsplash
Last year, I worked with a great coach called Ben, a very sporty, smiling African American guy with an amazingly kind energy. His specialty? Ben is a speaking coach. Oooooh, I can hear you coo at me.
What was I getting coached on, you may be wondering?
Meditation, of course! I was getting coaching to create a powerful, exciting pitch about my core practice, Mettā meditation, also known as Loving Kindness.
Ben taught me way more than how to connect with the audience, or how to pause for breath and/or effect in the middle of a speech.
Over the four hours or so we had together, Ben challenged me to go to the essence of what I wanted to say. My talk was an hour long and in our first session he said:
‘Great, can you give it to me in 15 min?’
Gasp. Light sweating. Elevated heart rate.
‘Okay’, I responded.
And then 15 minutes became 5, and 5 became 3, etc.
It was worth it. A few months later, I was invited to give a presentation and my time shrank from the agreed 25 minutes to 15. Or was it 40 minutes to 20. It doesn’t really make a difference now that I know better.
We need to learn how to get to the essence.
There are so many important things to say. And yet so many words we read, or hear, are meaningless and unnecessary.
Thanks to Ben, my coaching training, my meditation practice, and a deep passion for the subject matter, I finally came to understand the essence of the message I wanted to share. Boom! Like a download, I received it, suddenly evident... ‘The path to connection’
Just telling you about this, my stomach is suddenly filling with butterflies and soon I’ll have a pressing need for the loo. How funny, just like I used to get before getting on stage to sing.
Last year, I also saw a great talk which taught me the importance of naming the point we want to make when we present an important project, right at the start, whether it be a presentation, or a book pitch.
Don’t hold off for a big reveal, because anything could happen if you leave the point to your conclusion. Your boss or your client, or your audience, could take a call, need to leave, and boom, you are left with a flop.
So I learned two great things last year:
Find the essence of what you want to communicate.
Share it early.
Getting to the essence also means people will likely remember what you’ve shared and why.
I have this vivid recollection of a talk I saw last year in Zürich and the speaker, who was interviewed when she came off stage, was asked 'what's the most important thing you want us to know?’
She answered with a completely different answer than what was shared in her speech. Yikes.
So there was this thing I really wanted to share, I didn’t know how to get there, so I got coaching, and I worked a lot and studied, I also went to observe others who may already be doing what I want to do and learned how to cut through my own words, my own thinking, to get to the most important point I could make.
And now I’m writing a book on the topic, and that’s hard.
It’s really hard and yet, I’m doing it.
Meanwhile, in the coaching and consulting world of AVM, I’ve been enjoying doing a lot of work on values. I say enjoy, probably because my clients are willing to dig in deep and do it now. They are keen to see results - like me. They want a plan, to see things moving (forward and up), and get to the other side.
Let it be said that I trust the process of growth, learning and transformation, both individually and collectively (and yes, slow is the new fast). But, there are times when we are just… ready.
Have you been there before? Raring to go?
When I think of the word ‘ready’, it makes me think of the title of Tiffany Haddish’s Netflix special, ‘She ready.’ Ready is an attitude, a leaning in - it’s a form of energy.
It may seem that I am more of a risk taker than most, I follow my instincts and have a high quick-start tendency. What helps me move forward and take action is a very strong connection to my own purpose and what I hold to be true about myself.
I’d be hard pressed to make certain choices if I hadn’t the faintest clue what I’m all about.
Last week, I was writing about the risk of pausing, whether it be for a holiday (which I’m about to take), a meditation (done!) or simply a nap (which I wish I could do right now). What I shared is that I have a clear and deep understanding of what I want to do and who I want to be in the world. How I want to show up.
There’s so much I could still do much better in my life but having this immediate vision does help. It helps in the smallest ways too, by validating choices and explaining decisions.
Most businesses I know want to be able to articulate their mission statement, their motto, their vision (it’s a must, right?), then put it somewhere prominent online and/or in store. Consultants and freelancers seek to craft an elevator pitch, that’s what we’re told we should work on in order to clearly express ourselves and find our clients, our partners, etc. the ones that we want for our business and for our growth.
I say to hell with the mission statement. Who wants to be pitched to in an elevator anyway? We are just getting back to taking elevators without masks - is it just me avoiding eye contact?
So figure out what matters to you first.
What animates you?
Why you are getting up in the morning?
What makes you the person or business you are?
Get to the essence of what you believe about yourself.
Do that work and open up a world of possibilities.
By establishing this steady foundation first, you give yourself a chance to build on something stable. The wonderful news? It works for teams too. You could work on your values as a family. You can work out your personal values and your professional values (expect an overlap but not necessarily a carbon copy).
Have I convinced you yet?
So let me ask you this:
What qualities do you value most in yourself?
Meanwhile, I’m following my heart, trusting my passion, and hopefully whatever resources I’m sharing will make your own path that much easier.