When I began teaching public speaking classes at San Francisco State University, I was still working during the day at a high tech company. This was the late 1990's and we were, like most start-up companies in Silicon Valley, working long hours toward a big Vision. It was an exciting time of stacked soda cans and late night pizza parties. The buzz in the office was palpable, the dream driving each of us to dig deep into our strengths and passion.
That is, until it came time to do a company presentation.
Something about that medium – business public speaking presentation – sends flat-line vibes to the presenter. It's a strange thing, really, because the public speaking forum is such a powerful place. You have the opportunity to Move the Room with your ideas, information, expression.
I don't blame those presenters, though.
In most business environments, we've got few or no mentors for great public speaking.
The dry, bullet-point driven, I-need-my-slides-as-my-notes style presenting is so commonplace, no one thinks to question it. They just dread it, instead. Speaking or listening, they dread it.
But here's the thing: it can't be like that anymore. The days of huge, venture-backed adventures in entrepreneurship are (mostly) gone. Now, every single day counts in the assessment of a great idea's viability. The public speaking forum has GOT to be maximized. And it can be.
Here's the thing that drives me batty: Business is such a rich environment for both personal and professional growth. It's the perfect place to reach for one's edges, to seek brilliance. It's where your own version of success and feedback are both available (after a ton of hard work and willingness to hear the crappy stuff you don't want to hear.) Why aren't we using the business environment to reach for our brilliance?
So, I'm committing to change this whole dynamic. Here forward. NO more boring business communication. Because we are human beings doing business. We're going to act like it.