Did you make a New Year’s resolution? Psychological research shows resolutions which start on 1st January often get abandoned. Start later in the year and you massively improve your chance of success! As we commemorate Sir Winston Churchill now is the time to commit to a big step. A step that will change careers and lives forever.
Throughout his life Churchill showed great perseverance. He overcame poor performance at school, loneliness, a speech impediment. He took on some of the most difficult jobs possible. He battled his way to success and persuaded others to support him. He didn’t just want to use words well. He wanted to become an extraordinary communicator. He set himself the goal of influencing and persuading at the highest level. As we know, he succeeded.
As sales people we have built in perseverance! It’s time to follow Churchill’s lead - do as he did from an early age. There are many things you could commit to improving. But is there anything better than aiming to become a truly great communicator? Become passionate about words and use them for maximum persuasive effect. We’re not talking about speaking or presenting a little bit better. Think big - make your words explode with persuasiveness, power and passion.
Learn from the best
Churchill started by reading great speeches, analysing them, deconstructing them. Finding out what gave speakers the greatest impact. Of course we can read the same books but luckily we now have many more ways to get inspiration.
- Watch top speakers on TED. See and hear what works. What gets audiences on the edge of their seats?
- Listen to leaders within your own industry. What works for them? How can you use their techniques in your next presentation?
- Listen to audio books – for example Robert Cialdini’s Influence: the Psychology of Persuasion or Yes! 50 Secrets from the Science of Persuasion.
As professionals we like to be prepared, polished and in control. But improving your skills to a Churchillian level won’t happen all at once. You’ll need to experiment and take risks to improve.
- Set yourself weekly goals e.g.to try a new way to open a presentation
- Join a public speaking club or a debate club to test your skills in new ways
- Get yourself a speaking gig with an unfamiliar audience and make them love you! Organisations such a Rotary are always looking for guest speakers.
Announce your resolution
This may be the bravest thing you do! Announcing your resolution to friends and colleagues is a big step. If you do you’ll be improving your chances of success even more. They will give you feedback and hold you to account. You’ll want to show them you can succeed.
Take a moment to imagine yourself giving the best presentation of your life. Speaking at an industry conference and getting a standing ovation. Completing your biggest, most profitable deal. All of these outcome are achievable if you take the 2015 Churchill challenge and become the best communicator you can be!
“This is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in…” Winston Churchill, 1941
By Dorothea Stuart, member of Toastmasters International a nonprofit educational organisation that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of meeting locations. Find your local club.