As an author, speaker, and professor I’m frequently asked to be a guest on podcasts, panels and other events where individuals are looking to improve their leadership and communication abilities. Through the years I’ve compiled some of the more frequent questions that I am asked and thought I’d share my answers with you. I will be sharing these questions over the next several weeks – feel free to ask me more and I’ll try to answer them!
- Have you always been good at public speaking and enjoyed it?
Oh goodness no. After studying finance in college, I came to New York with the naïve notion that I was ready for an exciting and dynamic career on Wall Street. The truth of the matter is that I wasn’t. My college career simply hadn’t provided me with all the tools I needed to make a swift ascent up the corporate ladder.
When I saw my company’s leaders in action, I noticed there was something unique about the way they spoke. They commanded authority and respect. They exuded confidence that attracted colleagues like moths to a flame. Before they said a word, their body language communicated an intensity and sense of purpose. When they spoke, it was with passion and conviction. They opened meetings with themes that grabbed our attention. They closed meetings with strong calls to action that inspired us to exceed their expectations. People hung on their every word. Whether they knew it or not, they were the best teachers I ever had. I knew when I watched and listened to them that those were skills I’d better incorporate if I wanted to successfully progress in my career.
- If public speaking was something you had to learn versus something you were just naturally good at, how is it that you were able to become the speaker and communicator that you are today?
Effective communication is definitely something that needs to be both learned and practiced. At the time, fresh out of college, I needed to decide: since these leaders were too busy to directly teach guys like me, I watched and studied their every move and mannerism. In my particular field, individuals were in presentations all day long, either giving or receiving information. I realized that if I didn’t figure out how to significantly improve my communications skills, I’d be stuck where I was at—with little hope of advancement.
I read a lot of books on salesmanship, leadership, and communication. I integrated the best of all of them into a book that became my “Communications Bible.” I constantly added to it and read it over and over again as if it were Scripture. For years, I kept a copy in my briefcase and referred to it at will. This booklet I created was a “how to” manual that kept my approach powerful and compelling. The principles I developed over the years became part of my being; and in later years, my brand. Through the years, I committed to practicing the principles of persuasive selling and communication in every situation possible. I jumped at opportunities to present and speak in front of large audiences. I was determined to establish myself as someone who could always be counted upon to stand and deliver persuasively and with passion. That’s what the company’s leaders were doing well. And that’s what I wanted to do as well.
Be sure to check out more of these questions in future posts. In the meantime, feel free to ask me anything related to communication, leadership and business in the comment section!