As I mentioned in my last post, I recently read an article by leadership authority Roxi Hewertson, President & CEO of the Highland Consulting Group, that listed five things great leaders do, as well as five things failing leaders do. I also shared that what I found so interesting about the article was how the information could easily be applied to public speaking.
In my previous post, I shared the five things great speakers and leaders have in common. Today, I’ll head in the other direction.
Five Things Terrible Speakers Do
They Are Self-Absorbed
“Failing leaders just don’t pick up on or value other people’s signals,” says Hewertson. “Or, if they do, they don’t care, all demonstrating a fundamental lack of empathy.”
One of the super powers many of my featured speakers valued was the ability to read the audience. When a speaker fails to pick up on — or care about — an audience’s emotional response to his or her presentation, that speaker fails miserably.
Reading an audience is one part empathy and one part compassion. Great speakers are able to tell stories and communicate their message in a way that the audience can understand and relate to. They also can shift gears if they sense the audience isn’t quite picking up on their message.
Tip: Learn about your audience before giving a presentation. Also, pay attention to the body language of your audience members so you can make on-the-fly adjustments when necessary.
They Are Oblivious to the Political Landscape
According to Hewertson, some terrible leaders are just plain clueless. “They don’t develop a wide network; they just show up and act more like an individual contributor than a leader, even with their peers.”
Part of developing a thriving speaking career is building a network of peers, speakers who you can share the stage with and invite to speak on your stage. One skill that helps you develop such a network is knowing when to be of service, even when you aren’t getting what you want in the present moment.
Tip: Learn how to play the game, so to speak. This doesn’t be inauthentic. It means cultivate a service-oriented attitude that is balanced between achieving your goals while helping others achieve theirs. This is a great way to get referral business, as well as future gigs that might not have a slot open for you now.
They Treat Bad Outcomes Like Hot Potatoes
Bad leaders and terrible speakers don’t take responsibility for their bad outcomes. Hewertson explains it this way: “The difference between accountability and blame is the way the issue or problem is dealt with. Asking questions to understand how or where things went wrong allows the leader to ‘own’ the problem for the team, and then have a candid discussion about the situation and the solutions—without fear.”
Terrible speakers blame the audience for bad presentations. Great speakers always look to see where they could improve to get a better outcome.
Tip: If things don’t go according to plan with your speech, conduct a debriefing to uncover where you could have done better to get a more appreciated outcome. Ask yourself what you can learn, where you can grow and what you need to understand to make your next presentation more in alignment with what you were trying to achieve.
They Avoid Conflict Resolution
I’ve heard it say “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” That’s bad leaders and terrible speakers in a nutshell. These failing speakers and leaders practice “ostrich” thinking … if I ignore it, it will go away, says Hewertson.
The problem is, when you ignore conflict, it rarely goes away. “More commonly the conflict grows exponentially until it’s a toxic, smelly mess,” Hewertson says.
Great speakers face conflicts head on and search for win-win-win solutions. They take responsibility for things they could have done better. They respect the limitations of others, as well as themselves.
Tip: Face conflicts and deal with them. Resolve them in a calm, fair manner. This will earn you the respect of those you work with, which may translate into more gigs and business for you.
They Act Like Lone Wolves
Hewertson says that winning leaders “collaborate and synergize, leveraging the brains, talent, and time of other leaders in the organization for the good of the whole.” Great speakers do the same thing. They partner with other speakers and experts to create experiences for their audiences that are greater than the sum of the parts.
Tip: You don’t have to do everything yourself. Hire help. Partner with others. Find ways to leverage and synergize with other professionals to create things that are even better than what you can do alone.