“Truth that resonates”

Not so very long ago, while still in JOB land, I had the assignment to go deliver a talk to a men’s group at the country club.  Driven by my organization’s mission, I was eager to share with as many others as possible, and happily accepted the opportunity.  The gents were cordial enough, and as we dined together I even had a couple of relatively intelligent conversations.  I had a speech planned, and launched confidently into it at the appointed time.  Big mistake.

My speech was serious and passionate.  These guys were mostly half-drunk (and one or two were six sheets gone).  They wanted lighthearted and sexy; I was giving them profound and fierce.  Still, it wasn’t til I was almost done, and caught one of the crowd making obvious signals of distaste to the chairman that I realized no one had heard my message at all.  I had bored and disgusted them, and I left mortified.

Our amazing soothsayer, Seth Godin, came up with this capper yesterday: “Negative or positive, the challenge isn’t just to tell the truth. It’s to tell truth that resonates.”

Giving speeches is tricky, because one wants to prepare, but the capacity to adapt your presentation to the audience must be improvisational.  It’s all about empathy and careful listening.  While staying true to the content of your message, you have to communicate it in language appropriate to the moment.   At ten in the morning, those guys at the country club may have been able to consider what I was saying.  After drinks and dinner at the club, it was simply not a possibility.

Whatever you are promoting, you must care about in your heart.  And then you must forget it, and focus on potential clientele with all your wide open compassion.  Connections between them and your offering will then bubble up naturally enough.  Sticking to your rehearsed agenda can end up being an embarrassing waste of breath.

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