When a Touch of Arrogance Serves You Well
In 2015 as I was exiting a role as CEO of a traffic control company I decided to do two things.
The first was to go to every single networking event, business event, and function I could find within a 25 kilometre radius for 3 months. The second, to take a valuable day out of our transition period and attend a pitch fest in the heart of Brisbane’s CBD (where I lived at the time).
Attending a ridiculous amount of business events at every level – from free to hundreds of dollars – one thing that surprised me was the high level of exposure to speakers who should not have been holding stage at the front of any room, and the increasing ratio of speakers who were simply there to sell, or to seed a pitch to start you on a sales funnel process.
After some of these events I literally felt ill. And my curiosity was aroused. As someone who had always used speaking to grow, launch and pivot both businesses and community based organisations, all I could think was – what on earth is going on here?
It escalated when I raced into the pitch fest, excited by the prospect of listening to a full day of pitches, the culmination of 10 months of mentoring for these people, and this was the best of the best – the top 10.
Only to sit through formatted, clichéd pitches which were obviously designed to deliver consistency of experience for the ‘pitch judges’. I was dismayed. There was not one person who was able to engage me on a personal level, who was able to offer any insight into what was unique about them, the problems they solved, and nothing to entice me to want to find out more. (Except for the winner, because he was extraordinary – and he ignored their format).
So I decided to do what I do when anything gets my attention. To explore what was going on with speaking and pitch training.
And it didn’t take me long to see the challenge; because as soon as you added business owner or entrepreneur to the potential clients of speaker training programs it became all about selling from the stage, and seeding the pitch. Or even worse, pay a fortune to be part of my inner circle, and speak next to a celebrity to increase your credibility (find out more about my thoughts on that here).
When I looked further afield to the more traditional professional speaker coaching and development I discovered programs which whilst structurally sound were not contemporary, and didn’t quite integrate so much of what we now know about language, story and neuro-science.
I was also curious, speaking to so many people completing the public speaking / speaker training available (which is very different to all of the training I did when I invested $10,000’s in my own training early in my career), about the emphasis on not worrying about content. To simply get people on their feet talking on anything – how to bake a cupcake seems to be popular – for increasing periods without notes. So 2 minutes, then 5 minutes, then 10 minutes, then 15 and so on. To great cheers in a closed environment full of people doing the same thing.
But what I noticed was as people came out of these rooms and back into the sunlight, they still had no idea how to build their own content, how to position what they knew to be true about the world strongly, and in a way that would shift an audience from where they were to where they wanted them to be.
It quite surreally reminded me of my work as an Industrial Relations consultant… when people would invest significant money in HR Software, only to have it arrive and realise the hard work had only just begun – it still needed content and data to fill it, to make it effective.
I also knew from a mindset and neuro-science perspective that confidence doesn’t necessarily come from role playing. That it comes from quite frankly knowing your stuff, and knowing how to pull it together in a way that makes sense to the audience – whether it is 1 or 1,000. That confidence also needed to be understood, deconstructed and tools given to continually reduce the white noise and limiting beliefs – that those tools would be far more powerful than any rah-rah in any hyped-up, high energy room.
I truly believed that if I could show people how to unpack their own knowledge, in the process discovering what made them unique in the world, then show them how to pull it together in a powerful framework, that at least 80% of confidence issues would simply disappear.
So with more than a touch of arrogance, I decided to create my own training based on what I have been using for almost 20 years now in the real world. To build businesses, to lift my profile as an expert, to pivot, to sell, to win, to have people fall in love with what I know to be true and the difference I can make. And to test my theory that we didn’t need to ever get on our feet, role playing, to be ready to speak to any audience.
I ran it as a pilot program for 12 months in 2017, with more than 70 people going through various iterations of what has now become our signature program – the SpeakableYOU™ Intensives, which I deliver in Australia and the USA.
I launched SpeakableYOU™ as a brand in early 2018 and since then have worked with hundreds of people to lift their speaking skills, elevate their business and their personal positioning, and rapidly escalate their results.
My thinking has proven to be true. And now that I know it works, and have fallen in love with the possibility it opens for the people in my world who embrace it, I want to take this way of ‘doing speaking’ as far as I possibly can.
All you need to do is add you, and commitment to the future you know you deserve.