May 5, 2008

No systems, no formulas



As a coach, I find myself tempted to put my work into some sort of "system" or "formula." That's what everyone wants, right?

I called my public speaking e-course a "7-week shortcut," which sounds a little "system-like" although there's no system involved; just good old-fashioned exercises and activities to help you figure out your individual strengths and challenges without a coach by your side -- that's the shortcut.

The problem with a formula is that it can't possibly work for everyone. People want something quick and easy to help them solve their problems, become better at something, lose 50 pounds or make a bazillion dollars. But it's only easy when it fits your needs, your abilities, your learning style, and your level of motivation and willingness to take risks.

One of my clients is speaking at a conference next week about how to pick companies to invest in. His philosophy is that systems and formulas don't work, and that each of us can successfully pick stocks by using our eyes and our ears and simply observing the world around us. It's actually much easier than using a formula, because we already have the tools to make the analysis.

That doesn't mean that there aren't some quick tips and tricks along the way. But even those will vary in how they work for each of us, based on the factors mentioned above.

So I'm going to keep customizing my coaching services based on the needs of my individual clients. I'm going to keep customizing my presentations based on the needs of each audience. And I'm going to leave the systems and formulas to someone else who thinks we're all alike and that cookie-cutter solutions really work.

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Are you an entrepreneur or professional who's looking for better results from your speaking? Are you hoping to build credibility and visibility for your business or cause? Tired of just "getting by" and ready to deliver truly engaging and powerful presentations? Click here to fill out my consultation questionnaire and we'll schedule a time to talk!

5 comments. Please add yours! :

Jacki Hollywood Brown said...

This is so true! In my business may colleagues try to implement the same system in everyone's home. It doesn't work! Every home is different because the people in it are different.
That is why I offer Customized solutions to Conquer Chaos...because one size does NOT fit all.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Unfortunately, people spend a lot of money on "solutions" that will never work for them because they're lured by the "easy formula." All we can do is offer the alternative.

CK said...

Very relevant and useful post for any presenter/speaker/trainer.

I'm reminded of a guiding principle for presenters "Preparing for a speech or presentation without the audience in mind is like you writing a love letter 'to whomsoevr it may concern...."

Lisa Braithwaite said...

That's a great quote, CK!

Terry Gault said...

When I first began doing this work, I thought there was a set of rules such as: “You MUST do X, you CAN’T do Y” for public speaking. Nonetheless, over the years I have realized there are only guidelines. Because for every rule, I have seen someone “break it” and make it work. As someone who has sat through countless presentations, I always am delighted when someone does that.

I will echo and add these guidelines:

Change your paradigm about the sensation you are labeling as fear or anxiety. Instead of labeling it as “fear,” think of it as energy. Channel that energy.

Clarity and simplicity are critical in presentation content. I had a great presentation coach who said, “If you can’t make it clear, it doesn’t belong in your presentation.”

Don’t hesitate to say what you think. There is a common phrase at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center: “Point of view is worth 80 IQ points.”

Seek out opportunities to use humor in your presentations. I find that interaction helps in that regard. I can respond to interactions with the audience with humor and laughter.

Scale up the energy level! You will command more attention and project more confidence and charisma. I cannot stress this strongly enough. 80 – 90% of the presenters that I observe do not expend enough energy. Hence, they come across as uninvolved, uninteresting, and unenthusiastic.

Work on crafting compelling, satisfying conclusions. Tying a compelling conclusion to your main point will help your audience remember your message.

Lastly, don’t give up. As American writer and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson observed, “Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.”

Thanks Lisa!

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