Recently I had the opportunity to speak to a group of business people in Pittsburg, PA. It was a speech I’d given a number of times before, but on this occasion the outcome was a bit different. I’d made the choice to leave very early in the morning and make the five hour drive to the home of the Steelers rather than head up the night before. I cut it a bit too close and was let down by my Google map directions (thank God for the Maps App on my iPhone). I arrived on time, but a bit frazzled.
That leads to the first of three types of speeches … the one you plan to give. I’d given this speech plenty of times in the last six months. It’s basically a quick synopsis of my book, “Building Business Value.” I normally address the topic for about 90 minutes but for this audience, I had to deliver a similar message in a very tight 20 minute window. Well, it turns out I was well prepared for a 90 minute presentation, but somewhat unprepared to deliver the content in 20 minutes.
Now we arrive at the second of three types of speeches … the one you give. Since I had to squeeze my 90 minutes of content into 20 minutes I missed the mark on my real key points. Since I toured the bowels of Pittsburg before arriving at the Green Tree Radisson, I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to connect to my audience. And since I followed Pittsburg’s version of Tony Robins to the podium, I may have also been trying to be someone I’m not. Needless to say, I was less than pleased with my delivery.
So what is the third type of speech? The one you wish you gave! Most leaders have opportunities to move people to action. Whether it is a presentation to the board, a company overview to a prospective customer, or a speech during an all-hands meeting, we have our chances to lead change. When leaders speak, it should be with an objective to not only inform, not just to educate, but to create in your audience, a desire to change. In my case, the speech I planned to give did not match the speech I gave.
Has it happened to you? Did you fully understand your audience? Did you have a specific call to action? Were you simply trying to inform? Did you fully prepare? Where you in the right frame of mind? Had you had a good night’s sleep? Were you really trying to affect change?
Leaders in the mid market have ample opportunities to communicate their company’s direction, private moments where they can align their constituencies and generally public venues when they can motivate and inspire their staff. The key to delivering speeches that will meet all three of these objectives is to prepare and practice. The more effort you put into preparation, the better the three types of speeches will merge into one!