Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Setting stretch goals for yourself as a communicator

I can't help but agree with Mark Twain, who said, “Training is everything. The peach was once a bitter almond; cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.”

More recently, Seth Godin called it part of your infrastructure: "It's possible to invest in hiring people who are educated (not merely good grades, but good intent) and to keep those people trained and up to speed." He also says that if you're playing offense and actively trying to get ahead in your business, choosing a public speaking course is one example of what you might do--a hopeful stance about your progress.

Maybe you don't see yourself as that luscious peach or an elaborate, architectural cauliflower, communicators. Maybe you don't think about the accumulated knowledge and skill as infrastructure or playing offense. But further training as a communicator, training that pushes your envelope, can get you there.

Too often, professional communicators spend time buying training for others, but not themselves, turning into a comms version of the shoemaker's children who never get shod. If you're coaching speakers but have never had speaker or presentation training yourself, for example, it's time to turn that around. Having said, "No, I'm supposed to be in the background" didn't help me one bit when the time came in my career for my employer to assume I was a comfortable, at-ease speaker. So I became one...with training.

Right now, your fiscal year has either just gotten going or is about to end. How have you provided for your own stretch goals and the training you and your team need to get there? Are you leaving training money already in your budget on the table? Have you identified the areas in which you need to stretch yourself as a communications pro? A good coach or trainer can help you to do that.

In January, I'm leading two identical workshops on creating TED-quality talks (see info below). Most of the people who hope to give such a talk can't quite picture themselves doing it. But they show up, get their assumptions challenged, find new angles on their talk ideas, learn the actual work that goes into the process...and then go out and do the work and give those talks. What seemed just an aspiration becomes a success, a reality. One registrant for the workshop says she wants to "Rock it TED-style when co-presenting with unchangeable read-off-the-slide PowerPoint users." And so she will. I've seen it happen again and again--when participants are willing to stretch themselves toward something greater. Are you?

(Creative Commons licensed photo by Adi Prabowo)

This stretch goal is actually within reach: I've got two small-group workshops coming up on Creating a TED-quality talk in Washington, DC, in January. Choose the January 14 workshop or the January 28 workshop. All you need to do is bring your one big idea for a talk in the style of TED. You'll learn how to plan, write, time, practice, and deliver it in a group limited to 5 people per workshop. Join us! You get the best discount if you register by October 30, 2015. That's next week, dear.

No comments: