Recently, I was asked to deliver a keynote speech at the regional conference of 4N, a national networking organisation of which I am a member. There would be around 110 people attending. Being HR related, my subject can be a bit dry and I didn’t really fancy talking to people to sleep just before lunch! I thought hard about finding an angle that would be creative and make people sit up and listen. But in the end, there is only so much dressing up a boring subject can take, so I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.
And this is where life tossed me my first golden coin:
Brad Burton was doing the introductions. Published author, successful entrepreneur and billed as the UK’s number 1 motivational speaker, Brad is a tall, bald, muscular,energetic Northerner with a voice like thunder and a personality to match. As the founder of 4N, he was virtually on fire with enthusiasm so the banter in the room was excellent, and the mood very light hearted. My introduction from Brad gave me the perfect opening on a plate: He unwittingly connected my 2 greatest joys – HR and yoga. So I just had to play on that a bit more. I asked the audience to follow me in a simple arm posture that would challenge about half of them, and it made a great point about where I was going with my speech.
From there, it was an easy stroll to about the middle of my presentation, when I referred to a “feedback sandwich”. This is a technique I learnt at Toastmasters, and I attributed it verbally by saying I learnt about it when giving feedback to improve speeches.
And there it was: The second golden coin!
The audience suggested that I give Brad a feedback sandwich on his public speaking skills.
Wow. Do I take this coin, or do I let it lie for the next person to pick up? Will I actually dare to give this man feedback when he is already pretty good at what he does?
Letting things lie is not really my style. So I went for it!
I proceeded to give Brad Burton, founded of 4Networking, highest rated and reviewed business author on Amazon, and the UK’s number 1 motivational speaker, a recommendation to pause more when he speaks, sandwiched neatly between 2 totally inane platitudes.
And there, as I spoke, the third golden coin developed:
Brad was gracious, funny, open to my banter, and unbelievably humble as the audience cheered loudly at my total cheek. He even said thank you!
So there it is: 3 golden coins in return for acting on my instinct, not shirking at a challenge and being slightly more courageous than my fluttering heart predicted.
The payback on these coins came in the congratulations and positive feedback I received for the rest of the day from many attendees.
Most importantly, they seemed able to focus on the essence of my presentation despite (Or perhaps because of?) the diversions. My points were made strongly enough to sink in, and I do believe the lightness and banter of the time I spent on stage made it easier for people to engage with me, trust me and believe me.
So if you are reading this, my advice for you is to not be shy next time circumstances pop a golden coin of opportunity your way. Grab it, spend it and gobble up the rewards. If a lack of courage, a bout of nerves or a limiting belief in your mind threatens to scupper your achievement, just do what you have to do.
If I could give Brad Burton a feedback sandwich and live to tell the tale, imagine what you can achieve!