Someone recently asked me for some advice on speaking. They own a small computer business and felt it would be beneficial to them if they could get out once in a while and speak to others about their area of expertise.
I’ve never had a class in speech giving so I have no idea what the “book” would say on how to deliver and give an effective speech. I really believe my ability to speak is deep rooted in having been a basketball and football coach in my early career.
I was the kid in school who could not stand up in front of the room and give an oral report. Heck, my written reports weren’t all that good either. Coaching gave me a chance to be in front of people and not only speak but be able to put emotion into a subject I had great passion for.
So, I’m going to share with you some street learned speaking techniques and just in case you’re not interested in giving speeches I’m going to tie good speaking skills to your business and how you can be more effective in your daily job performance.
Know Your Material
Me: Like any speaker who wants to be the best, I’m constantly studying the marketplace to keep up with what’s hot and what’s not. Sometimes I learn as much about what not to do as I do about what to do. My brain never shuts down about this business. Regardless of what I’m doing I’m always conducting a Google search within my brain on how to tweak this and that. I’m always challenging my own thinking about what’s best and where this business is going. To do anything less is unfair to those who spend their time and money to either hear me speak or read what I have written.
You: The business and technology is changing faster than most of you can keep up with. That’s why you have to continue to look for opportunities to learn and expand your thinking. You’re cheating yourself and your team if you are not participating in Twenty Groups, State and National conventions. Always remember if you’re not moving forward then you’re moving backward. Those footsteps you hear behind you are the competition gaining on you. The only way to stay ahead is for you to continue to seek ways to stretch your thinking and imagination about what the possibilities might be.
Me: There is never an excuse for being late or coming in under the wire. You have to prepare for the unexpected. Is the room set up right? Does the wireless Internet work? Are there any issues with the projector matching up with the laptop? Is the sound and lighting right, are there distractions I’m going to have to deal with. Is the room set up in the best configuration to allow interaction between the audience and me?
Arriving early allows me to get my game face on and be ready for action. To me it’s a bit like the warm ups athletic teams do before the game. They are getting ready physically and mentally. I’m doing the same.
You: Are you one of those people who get to work on time? If that’s you then you are late. Many of you are familiar with “Lombardi Time,” made famous by the great coach Vince Lombardi. “If you’re on time you’re 15 minutes late.” The idea is to use the 15 minutes to catch your breath, collect your thoughts and plan what you want to accomplish and how you’ll go about it. Getting to work early allows you to get your game face on and be ready for anything that comes your way.
Engage The Audience
Me: Engaging the audience is critical to my success as a speaker. If I don’t already know the people in attendance, part of my mission for arriving early is to say hello to as many of them as possible as they enter the room. I like to know who people are, where they are from and if at all possible something interesting about them. Are they sports fans, have children, 2nd generation dealer, etc. The more I know about them the more I can engage them as the session goes on and the more they are going to like me. We all want to be liked. The more they like me the more productive our meeting will be.
When I’m actually speaking I work hard to draw as many people into the presentation as I can especially those with the bigger egos and who at first may be putting up a bit of a defense mechanism. I work really hard to win over the “doubting Thomas.” (Where the heck did that term come from?) By winning them over, the rest is pretty easy. I let them help me sell the rest of the audience. The reality is any good presentation is a conversation. A good conversation requires give and take.
You-you should have a mindset to engage as many people in your organization as possible in a given day. The more people you “touch” the more productive you and they become. It doesn’t matter what position you hold in your company you will find this to be one of the smartest things you have ever done. It goes on all day long, but in a dealership, you can get a jump start by starting in the Service Department, Body Shop, moving on to Parts, then the Administrative Office and finally the Sales Department. You should learn as much as you can about all those who work around you.
There will always be some tough eggs in your organization. Those who say it can’t be done whatever it might be. Your goal should be to engage them and let them know you know they are very important to the success of your organization and you respect who they are and you need their help and support to be successful people. Remember these are the people that stir it up behind the scenes. What you want them to do is stir it up for you, not against you.
Me: I have tremendous respect for my audience and I never forget who they are and what they deal with every day. In most cases I have been there and done that. I kinda know what they are up against, but I kinda don’t. The picture looking from the outside in is much different than looking from the inside out. I get it.
I, like many of you, have seen speakers with huge egos who in their own way talk down to their audiences. I’ve been in an audience like that and I keep those egomaniac speakers etched in the back of my mind and make sure never to go there. Even with the most difficult audience or individual I have the utmost respect for them and their opinions even when they may differ greatly from mine. I get respect because I give respect.
I try to keep things simple. I don’t need to serve up a lot of razzle dazzle in order to impress my audience. We, in this business often times make what we do far too complicated. Keeping it simple keeps the audience on track and helps them believe they can apply the message. The last thing I want to do as a speaker is serve up a bunch of pie in the sky.
You: Unfortunately some of the role models in the car business are egotistical wackos who have achieved perceived success by talking down and belittling others on their way to the top. Some would call them driven. I have another name for them but I won’t share.
Those types are determined to drive over anyone who gets in their way. They have little or no respect for anyone including themselves. The sad part is others around them start to emulate their actions because they think that’s the way to do it.
Life and business is pretty simple. Just treat people the way you would like to be treated and you generally can’t go wrong. Respect is earned each and every day. It’s earned by how you treat people and the value you put on them. You show no value, you get no respect.
Passion and Enthusiasm
Me: I guess when you love what you do it’s easy to do. I’m passionate about what I do. Thus, it’s easy to be enthusiastic. If you’ve heard me speak, you know I talk really fast. What you may not have noticed is that I actually have three speeds. Very fast, fast and very slow. There are times when I talk really slow and soft.
There are two ways to draw emphasis to something in a presentation. Tone it up, tone it down. 60% of my speech is fast, 20 % very fast and 20% very slow. I tone up and I tone it down for emphasis. I make my point using both techniques. I don’t expect people to agree with everything I say, but the one thing I want them to at least say is, the guy loves what he does.
You: If you don’t love what you’re doing then you may never be able to show enthusiasm. I often find people in the business are in it for the wrong reasons. Most of those situations are when it’s a family business and they figured they needed to be in it. I feel for you, I really do. There are so many other things you might enjoy doing, but this isn’t it.
However, if you love this business and you just are not an enthusiastic person let me suggest you “fake it, ‘till you make it.” You are just going to have to push yourself to get a bit more excited. You don’t have to “tone it up” all day long, but once in a while (20%) you gotta lay it out there and get excited.
Depend On Me
Me: I like to make the point to my audience that they can depend on me. If you call me or send me an email you’re going to get a response. You can contact me 24/7/365. The only way you will not get an immediate response from me is if I’m sleeping, speaking or with a client. If something comes up in a meeting and I say I’m going to get back to you on it then it’s a sure bet that I’m going to make it happen. If I don’t know the answer to something I will do my very best to find it out for you. If I tell you I’m going to mail you a book, then you “best be checking your mailbox cause it’s coming.”
You: You have to develop a mentality and a reputation of being a doer. Doing what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it is the one thing that builds respect, loyalty and commitment from other staff members. It also sets the tone for the way the rest of the staff behaves and acts in the workplace. They start to realize how important it is for them to follow your lead and take the same approach in their daily work habits.
Me: I like to end my workshops with a bit of “bang” and recap of the material I’ve covered. I do a pretty cool card trick that ties in all the things we’ve talked about during the sessions. It has a bit of razzle dazzle tied to it. I do it with great enthusiasm and passion.
You: You need to look for opportunities to have a “big bang” once in a while. Be it a celebration for a good month with lunch for the entire staff or an “All Hands On Deck,” meeting to celebrate your success. Far too often the celebration of success occurs only in the sales department. The reality is, it takes the entire team to be successful so make sure when you’re adding bang that you include the parts, service and office staff. To do anything less is nothing but banging your head against the wall.
Bang, Bang, Bang, that’s all I’m gonna say. Tommy Gibbs