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May 2024
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Good Enough Isn’t Good Enough

Discover 4 factors to take your speeches to the next level.

By Bill Brown, DTM

Cartoon man in business attire holding suitcase while leaping to blue block with white arrow saying Next Level

If you are a sports fan like me, imagine that it is late in the game and your team is behind, but within striking distance. One good play could win it. What do you want to see? Your best player with the ball, right? What if the coach puts in the worst player, perhaps the equipment manager? Would you be happy? No. You want the best in that situation.

I recently attended a Toastmasters club meeting where the speaker gave a speech about being good enough. When the evaluator gave some suggestions, another member spoke up and said, “It was good enough.”

Now, maybe your speaking skills are good enough for how you are currently using them, and you are using your club participation to keep them at that level. That is fine. But let me give you something to think about.

If you work for a company and they are trying to win a big contract, who do the managers want making the final presentation? The company’s best speaker or merely someone who is “good enough”?

If you work for yourself and you are in a similar situation, do you want to begin your presentation knowing that you are the best speaker the customer will hear, or are you comfortable being “good enough”?

My challenge to you is to be the person people want giving that final presentation.

That takes work because we can always get better. But what are we working toward? While there is a lot involved in being that best speaker, let me suggest four areas for your consideration.

The first is confidence. This includes confidence in your speaking ability and your message. If you are selling a product or service, you need to have confidence in your company and the product. But you also need to have confidence in yourself.

This is one reason that many people join Toastmasters. The Toastmasters program is particularly effective in helping a person gain confidence.

But all too often, once a member reaches a certain level, they plateau. They have reached their goal, and that is fine. But once you reach the level where you can stand in front of people and talk, there is a whole new level that is available to you, and that is where you convey confidence to your audience. Where you create confidence in their minds regarding you, your product, and your company. That is a level that, all too often, is not attained.

My challenge to you is to be the person people want giving that final presentation.

A second factor to consider is poise. While confidence is internal, poise is external. It is your bearing. It is your command presence. It carries with it a certain gravitas, a seriousness, a competence. It says, “I have something important to say.”

A third factor that can make you that go-to speaker is clarity. The listeners need to clearly understand your message. Not only does this involve making sure that your message is not confusing, but it also involves making it obvious to the listener. You want them thinking “of course, that makes perfect sense.” It involves being able to explain your message in simple, yet compelling terms.

The fourth area is the effectiveness of your words. If you are giving a sales presentation, is it persuasive? If your goal is to inspire your audience, does it inspire? It is easy for me to think that my words are persuasive. After all, it seems persuasive to me. But is it to my audience?

Don’t overlook the effect that your delivery has. Are you conveying the importance and the underlying emotion of the message by your voice?

When I heard that Toastmaster’s “good enough” speech, I realized that most of the people in that room had plateaued. But then I had to consider the question: although I am a speech delivery coach, am I also plateaued? This has encouraged me to take my skills to a whole new level.

I ask you, are you plateaued? Are you that go-to speaker that you want in at the end of the game, pushing for a victory or accomplishing an important goal? Or are you one of the ones sitting on the sidelines? Wherever you are, I challenge you. Do not settle for your current level of speaking. And do not settle for only minor improvement either. Strive for a whole new level in your capabilities. Because “good enough” isn’t good enough.


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