THE ORGANIZED COMMUNICATOR
I was in business as a full-time speaker and trainer for a few years when I had a revelation. I was making my work harder than it had to be. I lead training programs and give speeches over 100 days per year, and found that I was practically recreating my work each time I went on the road. This made my work feel very administrative Ė- which is not my heartís calling. I want to be connecting with people, helping them learn to be better influencers or mentors.
Yes, I had a standard program manual, but I was tweaking and adjusting it each time I led a program. Iíd tell a great story that crystallized a point for participants, but not record it anywhere. If I was lucky, Iíd scribble notes about it and put it in the pile with all the materials on that subject. Then a few months later, when that story would be appropriate for an audience, Iíd have to recall it from memory because I did not know where it was in the pile. I did not have my signature stories, statistics, facts, and core content organized in a way that I could pull out just what I needed, when I needed it. This made creating a keynote speech very challenging.
Did I know how to organize a speech or a training event? Yes, I had been doing that for years. As the co-author of "Power Presentations: How to Connect with Your Audience And Sell Your Ideas", I taught thousands of people how to stand up and deliver a well-organized presentation. But, I had not organized my own office space to make my work easy.
I had piles in the storage closet, the bookshelves, and on the floor. I felt guilty about my piles, knowing that something, anything would be better. When someone was coming to visit my office, I would have to decide what to do about the piles. What room could I hide them in? I did not enjoy being in my own space; I realized this had been true of my office in the corporation where I had worked for six years. I kept paper in neat piles on the credenza, the bookcases, and the floor (when necessary). I decided that I should stay out of my own office!
A friend of mine mentioned that she had worked with a Professional Organizer to solve her office challenges. I called the person she referred me to, Cynthia Kyriazis. In two half-day meetings, Cynthia had me feeling better about my office style, using principals to organize myself, and talking boldly about how effective Professional Organizers are. I have cut my preparation time in half. I can find anything in 5 seconds or less. I now have systems for all the work processes that used to drive me crazy. My signature stories are in an easy-to-retrieve system that works for me and helps me entertain my audiences. No more piles.
More importantly, I learned the skills to organize. Yes there are key areas and techniques, which, if applied appropriately, will enable you to organize anything! During one of our meetings, Cynthia mentioned that she was challenged by an upcoming presentation. I proudly gave her a copy of "Power Presentations", Here is her side of the story.
I remember a spring day in 1999 when I received a phone call from a woman who worked for a company called Influence Mastery. She said her boss, Shawn Kent, had heard of my company, Organize it, and wanted to set up an appointment the following week for a one-on-one consultation. As a specialized consultant, I have had the pleasure of working with professionals in all types of industries. Naturally, I was curious to hear what "Influence Mastery" was all about, and what types of organizing challenges Shawn was facing. Little did I know that it would be a journey in which I would not only teach, but learn and create as well.
Shawn and I only had two sessions together, but I remember she was eager and particularly attentive to the systems and processes I shared with her about organizing principles, styles, tips and techniques. She had a strong desire to eliminate the ongoing organizational roadblocks that were affecting both her productivity and her peace of mind. However, she was not at all sure I would actually be able to help her. Those two sessions together were extremely effective. Shawn quickly began to realize the power she held to positively impact both her professional and personal productivity by simply learning how to more effectively manage her paper, time, and space. After that, it was smooth sailing.
But thatís not the end of my story. When we began talking about our work together, I too shared some of my own frustrations. I was scheduled to present later that month for a professional group in the Philadelphia area, and I was running into roadblocks while preparing my speech. I was having particular difficulty creating an opening, and there were a few other gray areas as well. After some discussion, Shawn gave me a copy of her book, which I read cover to cover and bingo! The book provided me with the mental template I needed to create this presentation. But, the best part was learning that this framework enabled me to develop all future presentations. It taught me the principles, style, tips and techniques I needed to assist me in creating speeches forever.
The lesson I learned was similar to the one I had shared with her in relation to organizing her office. Seeing what a big difference we had made for each other, we realized that the same types of obstacles often challenge speakers, salespeople, trainers, and consultants, as well as many other professionals.
Think for a minute about some of the presentations that you have made. Have you been leading meetings that lack signature stories to make them pop? Do your stories need facts and statistics to add credibility? Are you connecting enough with your audience? Are you a consultant who needs more visibility, which could be realized by giving a presentation to your association or industry conference? Can you find those papers, ideas, files, and statistics you need when sitting down to create one of your presentations or workshops? Being comfortable with your content is the first step toward a confident presentation. The second step involves learning and becoming proficient at managing your paper, time, and space in order to become a polished speaker with presence on the platform.