A few years back I was cajoled by some buddies to be in a golf tournament with them. First of all, I never golf enough to really get better. And if I would have thought for a second, I would have realized their motivation wasn’t to just hang out with a good friend for a few hours, it was to wax my sorry…
But they underestimated a deeply rooted competitive streak in me. So a week before the big tournament I scheduled a golf lesson to fix, what was up until then, a mild slice. It meant that when others were playing in the sun and enjoying the fairway, I was usually searching for my ball in the woods.
The golf pro showed up and I was pretty excited. A few quick fixes and I’d be good to go! (I hear a few of you chuckling already.) During the course of the next 60 minutes, I would have a number of things “corrected.” First my stance. Then my swing path. And finally my hips and my head.
One hour and $75 later, my mild slice had morphed into what golfers affectionately refer to as a “duck hook.” I’ll save you the description. Suffice it to say it’s not very pretty and now meant I would not only be playing in the woods, but most likely the next fairway over.
Power of Continuous Improvement
What happened to me is what happens to many presenters today.
They get a little presentation skills coaching, feel some momentary discomfort because their existing habits are so deeply entrenched and then abandon their important new skill set before it can effectively take root. (The same skills, by the way, others admired so much at the end of their training day.) For this reason, far too many presenters never get to the level they aspire to and the presentation process has just become a necessary evil.
But from time to time we’re reminded of what can happen when someone is willing to lean into this important life skill. One of our executive trainers, Fred, was back in Boston working with a senior manager at a global sporting apparel company. And every time we were in town, this manager had requested a personal coaching session with us.
Because he was so bad and desperately needed the help? To the contrary, because he was so exceptionally good as a communicator.
When we asked him why he kept signing up for personal coaching, his answer was refreshing. He had been a professional tennis coach at one point in his life and knew first hand that it took a thousand conscious repetitions of a new movement before it became second nature. “That’s why I keep coming back – to get more reps.”
There’s a lesson in this for anyone who aspires to be an exceptional communicator.
If you’ve had some personal coaching, are you applying the skills at every opportunity or do you just expect them to magically show up on presentation day? If you haven’t received training in this critical area, are you willing? If you are passionate about being the kind of presenter who is remembered at the end of a very long day, take to heart what every professional understands about the nature of meaningful personal change.
You’ve got to want it.
You’ve got to commit to it for the long run.
You’ve got to believe that the benefits of mastery are well worth the time and effort to get there.
About the Author:
Jim Endicott is president of Distinction Communication Inc, a Newberg, OR consulting firm specializing in message development, presentation design and delivery skills coaching. For more information about his company, visit www.distinction-services.com