"Tolerate nothing less than 'Departmental excellence and coolness.'" Tom Peters
I am continually asked to provide "speech tips." I usually demur. I REALLY DON'T HAVE ANY/MANY. But this time I think I do. Not that it's clear how you'd take advantage of it.
I had a lovely time last week speaking to thousands upon thousands of ACE Hardware folks in Atlanta. The "stuff" was apparently well received … and a bit controversial … which I like. (I dared to suggest that women might be the majority of "hardware"/D.I.Y. customers.)
The "breakthrough": (1) I realized that - for my hour or so on stage - I HAD BEEN RUNNING AN ACE HARDWARE STORE. EVERY WORD - literally - THAT I UTTERED HAD GONE THROUGH A SIEVE CALLED "THE ACE HARDWARE STORE WORLD." I was - no baloney - on main street in Cameron Missouri or Palo Alto. (2) The breakthrough that led to the breakthrough: I REALIZED THAT A FEW DAYS EARLIER I HAD BEEN A DOCTOR AS I ADDRESSED LEADERS OF THE AMA. And a few days after that, I'd been a corporate benefits guru as I spoke to Merrill Lynch's benefits management Clients in Scottsdale.
I was never in school plays. Have never studied drama. But I do know that "putting yourself in the skin of" is what makes an Anthony Hopkins an Anthony Hopkins, a Meryl Streep a Meryl Streep. (Just to mention two of Earth's Great Character Actors.)
If there's an action step here for those of you who make presentations (about 100% of you, I'd judge), it might be to suggest that you take an acting course … rather than going to a "give good presentations" course.
Yes, you have a point of view. God knows, I do … and it's a pretty prickly one at that. But … MY PASSIONATE VIEW(S) ARE UTTERLY WASTED … UNLESS … I CAN GET WHOLLY INTO THE SKIN AND THENCE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THOSE WHOM I'D HOPE TO MOVE.
You may think the entire Management Team or Board are idiots. (And they may be.) BUT … for the few moments you've got 'em … even though you are purposefully challenging some stuff they hold dear … YOU MUST COMPLETELY IDENTIFY WITH THEM AS HUMAN BEINGS IN THEIR CONTEXT.
And, hey, maybe I'll open an ACE Hardware store! I quite enjoyed my hour as a Hardware Guy!
Before blogging became all the rage, Tom was posting book reviews and Observations (essentially early blog posts) to this site. You can find the archives below.
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