I stood on the stage. It was small, in an awkward room with pillars that blocked sight lines. The room was supposed to hold 150 people, but I could see them setting up extra chairs in the back of the room. Even still, there were people sitting on the floor leaning back against those horrible pillars.
Three days earlier a gal who had seen this speech the year before told me how it had saved her store. That’s mighty high praise for any speaker. I was in awe. That speech had been my first to a group of retailers like this. To have that affirmation was amazing. She wasn’t the only one . Another retailer told me that the only reason he was back was because of what I taught. He took a front row seat to hear the same presentation again.
Back on the stage the microphone was hot. My voice was either a whisper or a boom no matter where I placed the lapel mic or where the sound guy turned the knob. I went with boom. The stage was too small and I was wireless. I walked the room, trying not to trip over the legs of people sitting by the pillars, all while making sure they felt acknowledged for being there.
I knew my slide deck by heart. Loved the new slides the Slide Doctor helped me create. Far better than the previous year. Everything flowed. The audience laughed at all of the jokes, went silent when I lowered my voice, and asked all the questions I wanted them to ask. If you’ve ever given a presentation, you know what I’m talking about. Public speaking nirvana.
All those A+ grades in my high school public speaking class just because I was good at improv, all those rowdy dining halls filled with 6th graders teaching them a new song, all those classes in the Toy House with expectant parents in rocking chairs waiting to be illuminated, even all those moments when the little red light went on to tell me we were on the air, none felt quite like this.
It wasn’t a standing ovation (unless you count the people sitting on the floor getting to their feet). But I can still hear the applause. One hundred and thirteen of the roughly 175 people in that room filled out their evaluations. All one hundred and thirteen gave the topic a perfect 5.0 out of 5.0. All one hundred and thirteen gave the presenter (me) a perfect 5.0 out of 5.0. The room itself got a 3.2 for lack of chairs among other issues.
It was Mary Lou Retton at the Olympics. It was Michael Phelps in the pool. It was the 1972 Miami Dolphins. It was seven years, dozens of presentations and eight perfect scores ago.
That’s why I’m signed up for a one-day Speakers Workshop in April.
The point is this. No matter how good you (think you) are, no matter how experienced, you can always get better. Every year I hear business owners say they want to grow, but then they go watering the wrong plants. Your experience and training got you this far. If you want to grow your business farther, you need to grow yourself first.
You’re already reading this blog. That’s a good start. I encourage you to spend some of your precious time and energy strengthening your own roots. The more you grow, the more your business grows with you.
PS Read books. Read blogs. Watch YouTube videos. Listen to podcasts. Sign up for webinars. Go to seminars and workshops. Hire a coach. Find a mentor. There are many ways to fertilize your growth. Ask me if you’d like suggestions. (I just did the same thing – asked a bunch of my peers for new reading material for 2017 and got a list started.)
PPS Pricing for Profit (I knew you’d ask.)