Friday, 21 August 2009

It's not what you do that counts...

As an entrepreneur building your connections through socialising and networking, how many people ask you this question: "So what is it that you do?"

How do you respond?
Do you sigh and reel off your standard response? I wouldn't blame you if you did. After all if I were to answer that honestly, it would sound something like:
"I listen and observe people, I type keys on my computer, then I stand up and talk to people."

Here are a few others ways I could answer it:
* I am a presentation skills coach (my job description)
* I am am CEO of Light the Spark (my position)
* I coach people who want to improve their presentation skills (what I do but not really what they want to know)

If I leave it like this, the person listening will make their own mind up about how I could help them (or why they don't need to talk to me anymore!).

What people actually want to know is the answer to this question:
How do you help people like me?

Think about it.
People do not spend money on diet food - they spend money to feel better about themselves when they look in the mirror, or to be able to climb a flight of stairs without being out of breath.

People don't hire a dating coach - they spend money to find someone they can spend the rest of their lives with (and to avoid excruciating dates with totally unsuitable people)

People don't hire a presentations skills coach - they spend money to make sure that when they make that sales pitch, they get the sale.

So work out what it is that you do that helps people. And the next time someone asks you "what do you do?" give them a powerful, succinct summary of who you help and how their lives improve by working with you.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Let Your Audience Teach You

Today's blog is inspired by a quotation I recently posted on Twitter by Marva Collins:
'The essence of teaching is to make learning contagious, to have one idea spark another.'

To be a great teacher or trainer you could do worse than let your audience teach you. To do that, you must create opportunities to interact with them, and them with you.

The more you can interact with your audience, the more you will learn from them. They will spark off new ideas in you and enhance your teaching a thousand fold.

Teaching is not about filling someone's head with facts - such as the seven different leadership styles.

Teaching is about inspiring people - about setting off a spark in them - a curiosity to learn more, to observe others, to reflect on their own experiences, to help them see through new eyes the world that has always been around them.

One of my favourite lecturers was a man who rarely gave me information, or answers. He almost always posed questions and let us debate our views. When we stated our point of view (so confidently, awaiting his agreement, for him to validate our position), he normally responded with a counterpoint- another question. He made me think more deeply, made me go beyond the obvious, the superficial and really work things out for myself.

He sparked more thoughts in me than he could ever have managed by telling me things.

Ask questions.
* Open questions.
* Controversial questions.
* Challenging questions.

Treat all your students as teachers and you will be amazed at how much more everyone will learn as a result.