Updated: Feb 27
Performance! We often hear that word bandied about, but what is it exactly and how do we build more of it into our lives?
There are many ways to define performance, and it is almost certainly different for each individual. As Ralph Waldo Emerson's famous poem "Success", suggests:
To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a
garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.
Yet, for me, there is one unifying theme that underpins all aspects of performance, and ultimately determines how we become "successful" in any context. And that is the capacity for extraordinary communication!
Let's face it, whatever your message - whether it's an important presentation for the board of directors, a passionate plea for an overdue pay-rise, or a life-lesson you would like your children to understand - you will not get anywhere if you can't communicate it.
So, what are the key steps to great communication?
1. Know your message
It doesn't matter if you're standing in front of a crowd, your boss or your children, if you haven't at least thought about how you'll present your information, chances are you are going to fumble. There'll be 'um's and 'ah's, with the tendency to babble, and you will quickly lose your audience as they drift off into boredom.
Being articulate is paramount to good communication and great articulation comes through clarity. If you get the chance, always prepare in advance by ordering your thoughts. No matter what the genre, there has to be a narrative that guides it. A simple beginning, middle and end type structure, with branches (if you like) of information coming from each major point.
Depending on the context, it is highly advisable to write yourself some notes around this structure and practise what you plan to say, for fluency. I would urge against total memorisation, as this can come across as stilted, but if you practise the gist of what you want to say a few times, it will flow much more readily off your tongue when the moment comes.
2. Learn the tools of the trade
Still, there is more to effective communication than just the content. You are probably aware that approximately 93% of communication occurs non-verbally, through body language and tone of voice. The great news is that these elements of communication can be taught and enhanced.
In my package Speaking for Impact, I work with either individual women or organisational groups, teaching those exact elements of communication that are known to all great performers.
Participants are shown ways to use their body and voice to deliver messages with impact, every time, using an experiential model. In other words, we work together with your body and voice, so that you actually feel the difference in your whole system and can influence how your message is coming across.
3. Develop unflappable confidence
Once you have acquired these tools and techniques - things like posture, breathing and gesture - a huge boost in confidence naturally follows. Just knowing how and where to breathe in a stressful situation can calm the body/mind enough for you to speak with clarity and purpose.
Yet there is also that elusive notion of 'presence', which seems to be be a gift granted to just a lucky few! If you believe that, you might be pleased to hear that presence can also be taught, and the Speaking for Impact package covers this as well.
Here you will learn how to step into your own limelight and own every encounter from this point forward.........with confidence!
In summary, I deeply believe that in order to perform at our best, we absolutely must nail our communication. After all, if you think about the people who move us the most - the great actors, musicians and orators of all kinds, the overarching word we use to describe them is ?................."performers".
So, here's to communicating our way to a top performance in any situation - big or small!