Business Presenting is filled with paradoxes.
For instance . . . the quizzical Power Zone.
It’s a place everyone wants to be, but where almost no one wants to go.
This is really the strangest thing, and it alwayss amazes me anew the reasons people concoct for not becoming powerful speakers.
The Power Zone is a metaphor for that realm of especially powerful business presenters, a place where everyone is a capable, confident, and competent communicator, where every meal’s a feast and every speech kissed by rhetorical magic.
Yes, you can go there. And almost everyone claims they want to go to the Power Zone. But even when people are told clearly how to reach the Power Zone, most don’t go.
They find an excuse.
No Argument Here
Disbelief . . . Principle . . . Ideology . . . Sloth . . . Disregard . . . Fear . . . even Anger.
They contrive the darnedest reasons not to, from ideological to lazy.
In my presentations to various audiences, I am invariably faced with the arguer, the gadfly who knows better, sometimes vocal, oftentimes not. The person who is adamant, steadfastly against what is being said. Usually for the most spurious of reasons.
And it’s an exercise in futility for the gadfly. Because the choice to enter the Power Zone is personal and completely optional. I make no argument against the gadfly’s objections, whatever the source.
The latest batch of objections s
prang from one woman’s ideology. She apparently believed in au courant political philosophy that dictates how people should behave and react to others based on . . . well, based on what she believed to be right and proper. In short, rather than communicate with people in the most effective way possible, she wanted to do something else . . . and then lecture her audience if they didn’t like her way of presenting, whether based on appearance, voice, gestures, or movement.
She wanted to deliver prese
ntations her way, and blame her audience if they didn’t respond positively and, presumably, with accolades.
She complained that my presentation of techniques, skills, and principles “sounds like it’s from 100 years ago.”
And I say praise the Lord for that.
I draw on 2,500 years of presentation wisdom of Presentation Masters like Aristotle, Demosthenes, Cicero, Quintilian, Webster, Bryant, and Roosevelt, so I’m not doing my job if it sounds otherwise.
She complained that some of the gestures seemed “too masculine” and that she would feel “uncomfortable” doing them as she believed they don’t look “feminine.”
I replied to her this way . . .
Just Don’t Do it
I told her this:
“Don’t do them. Don’t do these gestures. Don’t do anything that makes you feel ‘uncomfortable.’ Don’t utilize gestures proven 100,000 times to be powerful and effective. Go ahead, substitute what you know to be better. Do exactly what you have been doing all along, and emerge from this lecture hall not having been changed one iota. And then . . . wonder at how you have not improved. At all.”
But do that with the full knowledge that you leave the competitive advantage you might gain just sitting on the playing field for someone else to pick up.
They’ll be happy you did.
Comfort? You don’t feel “comfortable” utilizing certain gestures? Since when did our “comfort” become the sine qua non of everything we try? Who cooked this “comfort” thing up, and when did it gain currency? Has any greater cop-out ever been devised?
Of course you don’t feel “comfortable” doing something you’ve never tried before.
A baby feels anything but comfort as it springs from the womb and is forced to breathe air instead of amniotic fluid and faces the cold of a delivery room.
A child feels anything but comfort as he learns the periodic table and the multiplication table or riding a bike or a new sport or meets new people and is forced to hear contrary opinions.
An athlete feels discomfort as she trains to develop skill, power, speed, and strength in the gym so as to perform at a superior level.
Does it feel “comfortable” to push forward and extend our capabilities into new and desirable areas? Likely as not, it’s a difficult process, but we certainly don’t accept “discomfort” as a reason not to do something necessary to achievement of a goal.
“I just don’t feel comfortable.”
Of course you don’t feel “comfortable” speaking before a group if you’ve never done it before or done so with no success. That’s the whole point of especially powerful presenting – expanding the speaker’s comfort zone to encompass powerful communication techniques that lift you into the upper echelon of business presenters. And drawing upon 25 Centuries of wisdom and practice to do so.
But some folks scowl at this. It requires too much of them.
Or it conflicts with the way they think the world ought to work. Or the Seven Secrets for Especially Powerful Presenting aren’t mystical enough for them. Secrets ought to be . . . well, they ought to have magic sparkles or something, right?
So . . . if you find this somehow unsatisfactory and unsatisfying or in conflict with your own ideology or philosophy . . . if you believe the answer should somehow be more mystical or revelatory or tied to the high-tech promises of our brave new world, then I say this to you: “Go forth and don’t use these techniques.”
There is no need to fume over this or that nettlesome detail. It’s completely unnecessary, because no one compels you to do anything. And this is what is so infuriating for the habitual naysayers – complete freedom. The freedom not to travel into the Power Zone.
I show you the way to the Power Zone, where you can be one of the exceptional few who excels in incredible fashion . . . but you can choose not to go.
If not, good luck and Godspeed with your own opinions and philosophies and endless search for presentation excellence located somewhere else. Let 1,000 presentation flowers bloom!
But if you elect to draw upon the best that the Presentation Masters have to offer . . . then I extend congratulations as you step onto the path toward the Power Zone, toward that rarefied world of especially powerful presenters.