Sometimes I ramble…
Sometimes I know I’ve lost my audience because I’m two paragraphs ahead in my presentation, silly brain!
And other times I know that I’ve hit the right spot with people from the looks in their eyes. Not on their faces, but you can see that cog turning when they can relate, just like a good book.
One of the things you learn early in my family is to be comfortable around people. The kids are taught to converse with adults and not run away to hide in their bedrooms. It helped that everyone was on a first name basis by the time I was 12. That also might have been because I was a head taller than plenty of the people talking. We all say we don’t judge people on appearances, but when you look like an adult you learn to act like one as well.
When we are sticking with economics, I have been fortunate enough to sit in a room with Nobel Prize winners and talk respectfully about their specific field of study. It helps that we are all a little nerdy, so we understand that at times we can also be off-putting.
College lectures, presentations to government officials, I have done them all. Graduate school put those kids in my world, my career the rest of them. The one common thing is that everyone wants to feel smart about any topic. The minute you treat them like less, you lose them faster than if you stuttered your words out.
Egos are funny things if you allow them to take over…
I also have found myself standing in front of people and hanging my head low admitting my faults. Mistakes that have knocked the train so far off the rails it might be easier to just get a new train than try to fix the old one. I certainly have done it in this blog. not the same as a speech, with eyes looking upon you, but public enough.
Being able to communicate is a fundamental skill. Telling a class what to do, telling your spouse what you need, telling the world that at times you are scared of what tomorrow might bring. There’s no need to stand in the public square and bemoan not getting the latest iPhone, but sometimes you need to wear your thoughts on your sleeve in order for your world to get better.
I’ve never gotten up from any person’s presentation, learning something new is important to me. Also making them feel as if they are being heard is important. Every person has doubts about what they are saying, or at least if they are saying it the right way. There is nothing more gut-wrenching than having someone leave while you are talking, only to not return. (nature does call at odd times?!!)
It is the one skill that I always taught, listen as well as you speak. All voices should be heard, even disagreeable ones. It says more about a person who can hear than a person who needs to shout to be heard above all else.