From Worst to First GraphicTalk About an October Surprise! 

Red Sox Nation is still on a high today, and we at SpeakWell Partners are still doing a happy dance. It seems fitting to honor the boys with the beards, and offer a service to our readers all at the same time! Before the “worst to first” metaphor is completely played out, let’s grab a few tips from the 2013 World Series Champions.  Here’s how you can experience a stunning turnaround so that you, too, can feel like “a million bucks!”

First, the Tangibles:

  1. Refuse to accept failure – or even mediocrity. If you are one of those presenters who doesn’t really care what your audience thinks, and that you just want to get your information across and go home, then this post won’t offer you much help. If, on the other hand, you really do care how well you perform and how much value you offer your audience, then the first shift toward success has already begun: you have to not like that you failed. It has to sting. It has to feel bad enough that you want to go through the discomfort of behavior change.
  2. Make a commitment to improve. What aspects of your speaking needs to be better? Make a conscious decision about what you want to focus on. Most of us think we could lose five pounds, but we never do anything about it.  Without commitment, you will stay at the same level of “meh” that you’re at right now.
  3. Create a vision of yourself as a great speaker. The new General Manager of the Red Sox, Ben Cherington, made some key decisions early on about what was needed to “fix what was broken.”
  4. Develop chemistry with your audience.  One of the most consistent opinions we hear about the Red Sox is the major shift in chemistry among the players and their coach, John Farrell. They clicked, pure and simple. And it was so fun to watch.  What can you do to create a connection with your audience? It could be as simple as making eye contact more often, or as advanced as using physical movement and word choices to wrap your loving arms around everyone in the room.
  5. Build the ideal mix of skills for any situation. Another key element in the epic turnaround of the 2013 Red Sox is the balance of skills they brought to each game. From pitching, to hitting, to amazing feats of fielding. Do you have the right mix?  Assess yourself on the following categories: Posture, Voice, Compelling Content, Structure, Gestures, Brevity, Authenticity. How did you do?  What aspect of a great presenter deserves your intentional focus?
  6. Find a presentation coach.  Some of you may benefit from hiring a professional coach.  Others simply need to find a colleague or friend who will tell you the truth in a way that is helpful and productive. The Red Sox players were well-coached this season. I won’t bore you with the details since it would take several paragraphs. The bottom line is, you can’t see your own swing.

Now for the Intangibles: 

Grow a beard!!  Seriously, though. If you do a lot of team presentations, think about how you gel as a whole. What can you do to enhance that sense of “sink or swim together” mentality?

And finally, the most intangible element of all, but one that warrants serious consideration: where does your inspiration come from?  The world knows what Boston experienced on Marathon Monday.  Since then, the city has united around the “B Strong” mantra.  In a beautiful demonstration of caring, confidence, and conviction, David Ortiz summed up the whole season after receiving the World Series MVP trophy when he said, “This is our effing city!”

Still dancing, singing, and humming happy tunes,

– Coach Roche

Barbara Roche