When I first began speaking in public in front of large audiences and speaking at universities it did not take long before I realize that I wasn’t always getting my intended message across. Despite being an energetic and subject matter expert on what I was talking about, I quickly realize that I needed some help in preparing my speech.
When we talk or attempt to communicate to large groups we quickly realized that the audience does not always perceive the intended message accurately. Unfortunately, this is not just in speaking but also in writing. When I authored and published my first book back in 2015, I slowly began to realize that my book and my message was not exactly what I had envisioned, in addition from not doing a good research on the publishing company prior to signing the contract, I realized after the book was in print that it was about half the size I expected it to be. Once some of my family and friends begin to read and give feedback on the book, I was made aware that how I wrote and what I intended to say were two very different things. I have since pulled the book from publication and I'm in the process of rewriting and adding to it so that my desired product outcome is actually how I envision my work.
As emergency managers and public safety professionals, we are frequently asked to speak confidently in front of other people. Wheter we are in leadership or simply talking to schoolchildren, the way we communicate in both verbal and nonverbal communication is paramount to the success of our careers. The book and video series by Amy Heron titled visual intelligence is one of my top recommendations to everyone in any level of management or leadership. She gives amazing insight to how different people will perceive the exact same image or message. I particularly found this series to be helpful when I draft my emergency management presentations and have to tailor it to different audiences from different educational and professional backgrounds. Amy began taking her Art of Perception®, that originated from teaching students to art galleries to enhance their visual and perception skills, to the New York Police Department (NYPD) in an attempt to sharpen police officer's visual perception skills to better prepare counter-terrorism officers. Her book and video series have become invaluable to my ability to not only perform my job at a higher caliber but also my ability to address my communication to the audience. By understanding some of the core competencies, she outlines my speeches have improved tenfold, in fact, I am currently researching and preparing to do a TEDx talk, none of which would be possible without enhancing my communication skills.
The first week after I assumed my position with the State of Indiana, I had to give a presentation on the state emergency management program to the building service workers throughout the state at an annual conference. Unfortunately, this ended up becoming a vital pivoting point and how I prepare and tailor my speeches. My first speaking engagement in my new tole was less than stellar, to say the least, I realized about a quarter way through my presentation that nobody in the audience had any clue about what I was discussing and my attempts to bypass irrelevant information and modify my speech on the fly was simply a disaster. After that conference, I took a much more in-depth appreciation for public speaking in my role and began to study and practive my public speaking on a daily basis, something I now reflect upon as a significant boost to my career. I have had the privilege of working alongside many senior military and government professionals throughout my career along with many politicians, and one characteristic that is paramount with everyone at the top of the chain is their inherent ability to quickly and readily give a speech at any time. Despite your role or position within an organization, you must be acclimated to giving motivational or team building speeches that uplift the moral of your team and give a clear intent of what you expect of them. Mastering the art of public speaknig will be the most valuable tool in your ''toolkit'' to advancement and career progression.
The only way to give our audience a new perspective on our world is to get a fresh perspective ourselves. In the Wall Street Journal Bestselling book Talk Like TED by Carmine Gallo he explains that the most successful presentations revel ideas that we would otherwise never consider. The speech will take the audience through a roller-coaster of new experiences and puts them on a journey to explore a new perspective, your perspective. The power of communication is not only beneficial, it’s vital to the success of Nations, Governments, Companies, and the global progression that is life. The best advice I have ever received is to explore outside of my profession, I took this advice whole heartily and expanded my studies beyond emergency management and public safety, I began studying computer hacking, psychology, sales and marketing, and many other topics I find interesting. I never fully appreciated the value of doing so; it has completely changed my entire life and has boosted my career to platforms I never thought attainable.
Communications is such a broad topic to cover and there are hundreds if not thousands of approaches to enhancing one’s ability to communicate more effectively. I can’t honestly give guidance on which topics are best for you to study and enhance, that’s entirely up to you, but I will give you a few recommendations to consider. Next time you are shopping on Amazon or at the local Barnes & Nobles, do yourself a favor and spend the fifty dollars to pick up the following books;
3- You Can Read Anyone by David Lieberman, Ph.D.
These books are in my Top 10 must-reads that everyone who works for me has to read and I honestly believe they will become your most valuable books as well.