Photo courtesy of zoetnet, some rights reserved.
Ok, so imagine this. You walk into a restaurant and sit down. Now, when I say restaurant, I mean a good restaurant--No paper napkins, and no yellow or red in the logo--just so we're clear.
When you walk in, you are met by a smiling host or hostess that welcomes you to the restaurant, asks how many in your party, and asks you to please follow her to your table. You sit down, the hostess gives you your menu and tells you that your waiter will be with you shortly.
When the waiter walks to your table, what do you notice? Is he well dressed? Does she smile and seem friendly? Is she knowledgeable in what is being offered on the menu?
You notice all of these things and each of them, to some extent, affects your dining experience.
But what affects your dining experience more than anything? I would venture to guess it is the food! (and we all know Chris LoCurto is gonna LOVE a post about food!)
I say this because you go to a restaurant to eat good food. Yes, you want to have great service, and if the service stinks, you probably won't go back, but you really are most interested in the food.
Now let me tie this all together.
Let's look at this experience in regards to speaking in front of a group, or teaching a group. If we are to use the above experience as an analogy, who would be the waiter? The diners? The food? The service and appearance of the waiter?
Here's my suggestion:
As the speaker or teacher, you are the waiter. Your audience, the diners. The food that they came hoping to enjoy is the information that you are putting forth in your speech, training, or lesson.
Now, where does the service and appearance come in?
The appearance and service is your appearance as the presenter as well as your speaking/teaching skills.
Are these important?
No one wants to listen to, or be taught by, a slob. And if you speak like Ben Stein's character in Ferris Beuller's Day Off, no one will stay awake!
You have GOT to learn and hone the skills of public speaking (Check out Lily's series on public speaking for great ideas). But in doing so, I fear sometimes we forget that, in reality, the information you are presenting is the. most. important. part.
So, my challenge to you: As you speak and teach remember the parable of the waiter! Remember that as important as it is that you relate to your audience, smile, tell compelling stories, and speak clearly, you are simply the vehicle to convey your information.
Speaking and teaching IS NOT about you! Speaking and teaching is about conveying information that will benefit your audience.
Question: How does this parable affect how you look at speaking and teaching others?
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