By Goke Ilesanmi
Last week, we said to get your dream job, boost your career or achieve business success, you need the skill of effective communication. We examined four communication skills of speaking, listening, reading and writing. We said speaking is the most potent, most important and most sensitive of the four communication skills as it can make or mar a career. We stressed that speaking is a crowd-puller and stimulates immediacy of attention. We said one of the ways to excel in life is to know how to effectively position, sell or market yourself in every situation and effective speaking ability is very critical to success in this area.
The reality is that to acquire the required proficiency in public speaking and presentations generally, you must be sincere to yourself by doing the necessary self-auditing for accurate self-awareness and then personal development or learning.
Self-awareness is about having a clear perception of your personality, including strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivation and emotions. You need to be conscious of your physical, intellectual, psychological and social peculiarities to succeed.
Self-awareness guides you on the type of career to choose or business line to invest in, how to improve yourself, etc. For instance, somebody who is aware of his or her natural reluctance to relate with people will probably not go into marketing or selling as a career.
As regards personal development or learning, this is a conscious effort by an individual to train and discipline himself or herself after being aware of his or her strengths and weaknesses through self-auditing. For instance, if you know you are an introvert, you need to face reality by going for a standard professional speaking and presentation training programme and embark on constant practice for continuous improvement. Even untrained extroverts who are naturally confident to speak in public need to undergo professional training too so as to perfect their speaking and presentation skills and leave the realm of amateurish confident speakers.
It is impressive that some visionary people normally embark on personal development after having done self-auditing, and are aware of areas that need to be developed. That is strategic planning to enhance their career advancement or business development.
For instance, proactive and visionary lawyers, communication professionals, architects, etc., have attended our public speaking and business presentation training.
But it is a pity that most people are aware of their introversion or deficiency in public speaking and presentation skills without taking any remedial action. In short, most of them will wait till when they encounter embarrassment in official events such as promotion interviews or business presentations before they finally take action.
Eleven years ago, I met a brilliant female lawyer working as a coordinator in a secondary school where I had been invited to train teachers on Effective Language and Communication Skills in Lagos. I almost disbelieved her when she introduced herself as a lawyer. She pathetically told me that despite having a second class upper first degree in Law as well as a Master’s degree in the discipline, her lack of expected confidence and oratorical competence in speaking in the public, especially in the court compelled her to resort to working in the school. Then I told her she needed to address her introversion.
Effective oral communication ability is critical to all we do. I did research recently and discovered that the biblical roving preacher Apollos, referred to as an eloquent man mighty in the Scriptures in Acts 18:24 went through training in Rhetoric, that is, Persuasive Speaking Skills. So he knew how to arrange his messages professionally, persuade and motivate people into the desired action.
By contrast, because of introversion, the scriptural Moses did not want to accept the leadership assignment that God wanted to give him. He gave God an excuse in Exodus 4:10, “And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but am of slow speech, and of a slow tongue.”
Eventually, God allowed him to delegate the speaking aspect of his divine assignment to Aaron as his mouthpiece. Like Moses, most people today are aware of their inability to speak in public. Yet, they wait till when they are embarrassed and/or lose big career or business opportunities before taking a corrective action.
Just as Moses resorted to fear-compelled delegation of relinquishing the speaking aspect of his assignment to Aaron because of introversion, so do most introverted bosses do today and cause their own career stagnation.
Mr. Richard Thompson (not real name) was a Marketing Manager in XYZ Company in Lagos, Nigeria between 1992 and 1998. He was highly focused and nursing the ambition of becoming the Chief Executive Officer of the company through diligence and self-development.
But Richard had one impediment across the path of his career advancement, which he failed to quickly address. This was fear of public speaking and business presentation. Anytime he was asked to address a large gathering of customers or stakeholders, he would avoid the responsibility by giving one excuse or another and delegate the task to one of his subordinates, versed in the art of presentation.
Soon, through repeated presentations, the eloquent subordinate became the most intellectually respected staff member in the Marketing Department and was much preferred by the management and cherished by customers. Later, the management considered Richard redundant a boss and decided to allow the articulate subordinate to take charge of the department because of his charisma occasioned by competence and eloquence. Rather than sack Richard, the management left him in the department. Richard subsequently took an honourable decision of resigning. The premeditated smooth sail of his career was prematurely terminated in the company due to his failure to find a timely solution to his introversion or public speaking and presentation problem.
GOKE ILESANMI (FIIM, FIMC, CMC), CEO of Gokmar Communication Consulting, is an International Platinum Columnist, Professional Public Speaker, Career Mgt Coach and Certified Mgt Consultant. He is also a Book Reviewer, Biographer and Editorial Consultant.
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