- Decide whether you want to deliver a speech or motivate your audience to take action. The two are not the same. You’ve got to choose one or the other. The first one is fairly easy to prepare for. The second? Not so much. It requires viewing life through another’s eyes, feeling their hurts, anticipating their struggles, and showing them the way out.
- Talking and communicating are not synonymous. Just because you said it doesn’t mean everybody else got it. Too often, communicators build speeches that they like the sound of instead of preparing a message that appeals to the audience they will be addressing.
- To communicate well, you must genuinely like people. Arrogance and snobbiness always bleed through.
- Nobody cares what you think. Unless they’re part of a punchy comedy routine, your opinions get mighty tiresome after about thirty seconds. Give folks facts and principles they can apply and improve their lives. Be able to document everything you say. If you can’t prove it’s accurate, trash it.
- Don’t wax eloquent on subjects you don’t know well. In one of my first sermons, I elaborated on the messiness of animal sacrifices and how the sheep must have reacted when the priests prepared them for the altar. After the service, I shook hands with an old man who looked me in the eye and said, “You don’t know much about sheep, do you?” That’s all he said, but that’s all it took. When you don’t know all the details, I recommend underselling.
- Don’t milk another man’s cow. A few weeks ago, a bunch of us were listening to a preacher online. Midway through his sermon, my son opened YouTube and played a clip of a popular comedian. He and the preacher were telling the same stories. The same illustrations told in exactly the same way. The kids listening loved the comedian. The preacher became part of the joke. He still is.
- Perception is reality. Your audience isn’t going to leave talking about what you said; they are going to go home talking about what they heard. Lessons on child training, for example, can sound like mocking ridicule to parents of wayward children. Presentation is just as important as content.
- Don’t blame the audience for not getting your point. It’s your job to paint the picture for them. If there is a disconnect, it’s probably your fault.
- Don’t talk down to your audience. Treat them like they are adults who have a healthy dose of good sense. Find common ground. Build a bridge. Make a connection. You don’t get bigger by making those around you smaller.
- Be confident, but don’t be a jerk. If you have to keep reminding your audience of how tough and cool you are, well, you probably aren’t very tough or cool. Give it a rest. If you are tough, they will see it without you having to show them. If you aren’t, they will see right through all your posturing. Make it about them and not about you.
The whole world sings the praises of Martin Luther King. This man, with dignity and poise, changed the face of America. His actions forced radical changes within our country, and did more for the fair treatment and honoring the civil rights of all Americans than just about any other individual.
If you want to force change, wouldn’t it make sense to follow his pattern? Especially if you are going to allude to his memory?
But, no. All these recent protestors, many who want to align their cause with his, don’t come close to protesting like he did.
Martin Luther King clearly articulated his cause. His passionate speeches ignited fires in the hearts of anyone who would listen. The only fires today’s protesters can ignite is when they are burning down somebody else’s car or business.
So, what went wrong in the Garden of Eden? Eve ate the fruit from the forbidden tree and ruined it for the rest of us, right?
Well, sorta but not exactly.
Read Genesis chapter one and you will see that, before God ever created Man, He designed him to be in charge. Your grandmother’s King James Bible called it taking dominion. Adam was to be the keeper of the garden. He was the boss of all the animals. Keep reading in Genesis and you will see that God even gave Adam the job of naming each animal.
God wanted Adam to know that he, Adam, was in charge of what went on in the garden.
Okay, I let you get through the last of the Christmas dinner leftovers and the first set of New Year resolution failures. Now it’s time to get back to the daily grind of just slugging it out.
All those books and online courses that promise to make you more productive and help you reach your life goals? They’re the same old set of common sense principles that have always made people successful gussied up to look like you can make it happen without breaking a sweat. The bottom line is: dreams only come true when sufficient labor is applied to them. Change only occurs when more force is applied to it than to the status quo.
So, put the book back on the shelf, log out of that how-to website, put your work clothes on, and get back to work.
Christmas thoughts are usually more about egg nog and reindeer than leadership, but my mind spun in a different direction today. Although the subject may not be be mentioned in any carols of the season, it does fit because it’s about life’s priorities and our attention to them.
How is it that we stress leadership development, but never develop as leaders?
Most leadership programs emphasize identifying your essential values: those things which give meaning to your life and work. Nearly every time, family and relationships come out among the top three or four values leaders identify.
Many companies pride themselves on being family-oriented. They boast of taking care of their own, of creating a work environment that enhances growth and openness and honesty.
When Hillary Clinton conceded to Donald Trump, the collective sigh of relief from conservatives blew a wind of hope all across our nation. Not because so many of us feel that Mr. Trump is the last great hope for America, but because we believe that re-electing the radical liberal machine would have been the last nail in its coffin.
I must admit that this election took me by surprise. I fully expected the Democrat Express, fueled by propagandists posing as journalists, to glide into the station ahead of the Trump Train, loaded with all the baggage those same media elites kept piling on it.
Finally, it’s over. Donald Trump will be the next President of the United States.
I was one of the millions waiting up till the wee hours of the morning to see who would win. Here are a couple of observations.
When Trump and his family first walked into the hall after Hillary’s concession had been announced, their procession seemed a little Egyptian pharaohish at the beginning. The Donald walking slowly in front, the family lagging several feet behind as if they were afraid they didn’t have permission to be there. But once they got down the stairs and on the stage, all that changed.
It had been one intense day after another. David’s health was not improving despite every effort to revive him. One of Solomon’s half-brothers had taken advantage of David’s condition, and tried to pry the kingdom from his frail fingers. Only a last minute intervention by the prophet Nathan and Bathsheba foiled his plot. David, lucid enough to realize he had to act, ordered Nathan to anoint Solomon to take his place as King. As the news spread, the people rejoiced with such fervor that I Kings chapter one says that all their noise rent the Earth.
Solomon had been given the throne, but now it was time for him to establish his kingdom.
Words mean things. Words affect us.
While we never notice the process, our brains filter every word that we speak or hear, and adjusts our mind to comply with what it’s being told. If your brain hears “you dummy!” often enough, it assumes that it’s true, so it lowers your internal expectations to that level. And when you mess up, your mind scolds you for even thinking that you could get it right in the first place. You are a dummy, remember? And dummies always mess things up.
If you are one of those who mock that concept by saying something cute like “I’m gonna think myself seven feet tall and good looking,” then carry on. I won’t waste time trying to convince you.
But what we hear does influence us — especially if those words are spoken by someone important to us.
You can’t outsmart the wind.
A surgeon can take your heart out of your chest, tinker with it a while, stick it back in, staple you up, and in a couple of days you’re back in your living room showing pictures to your friends on Facebook.
But no one can outsmart the wind.
We’ve sent men to the moon, we’ve grown corn in the desert, and we can turn our porch light on and off while cruising in the Caribbean.
But we can’t outsmart the wind.