The Logjam

Are you familiar with the term “logjam”? If not, it means pretty much what you might be picturing. It is a naturally occurring phenomenon. Trees fall in the woods, sometimes they plunge into rivers and streams and can become free-floating. If this happens enough times, if there is enough wood debris in the water, they can begin to get stuck on rock outcrops or in narrow passages. Over time, the blockage or logjam becomes worse even to the point of altering the landscape of the surrounding area as rivers change direction.

If you’ve just discovered The Better Presenter Blog, you may be confused as to why our first blog post starts off sounding like a grade 4 geography lesson. The purpose of The Better Presenter website is to help people identify and overcome obstacles to clear communication. One of my personal hurdles that I continue to struggle with, I call the “logjam”. It’s the only way I can think to describe it. My thoughts, ideas, and words are those free-floating logs. Sometimes they’re flowing out of the mouth of the river in a nice orderly fashion. Sometimes, it feels like too much is trying to come out at once, and everything gets jammed. This is difficult if I’m speaking to someone, trying to make a point or share a story and suddenly… nothing. Logjam. Outwardly, I’m sure it looks like I’m searching for just the right words when in truth, I’d be happy with ANY words. When it happens in front of a group, I tend to lean on the verbal crutches; word fillers like “ah” or “um.” If it’s a particularly bad logjam, I’ll stammer, and of course, it becomes even worse. I’m fortunate that I don’t usually reach a point of no return where I’m at such a loss for words that I would have to just apologize and walk away (except that one time… but that will be another post).

I’ve been a corporate trainer and facilitator for over 25 years now, and in that time, I’ve studied public speaking and developed tactics for dealing with my own obstacles. I love to share them and find it so gratifying when these strategies help someone else. Many describe their issues simply as “I have a fear of public speaking.” Because this is a little vague, I always want to ask “why.” What is it specifically that makes a person afraid, and what will it take to make them fearless? We’re getting to the heart of the matter now. In the second paragraph above, I gave our “elevator pitch”: help people identify and overcome obstacles to clear communication. As we created our Better Presenter Academy program, we realized it’s not just about communication, but also about transformation. Any public speaking program can help with the basics: Stand straight, project to the back of the room, pay attention to your cadence, volume, and pitch, have an opening, body, and conclusion. There you have it… are you a better communicator than you were two sentences ago? Probably not.

Although there’s no doubt that the fundamentals are important, they’re not showing you the bigger picture. That is: what does it take to envision and craft your message, then deliver it with fearless confidence so that it resonates with your audience. This is the real goal of The Better Presenter. Future blog posts, (eventual) YouTube videos, and Academy lessons will guide you down the road to better presentations. Many of our guideposts will be principles not typically associated with public speaking. Here are just a few:

Guidepost #1: Set lofty goals

The Better Presenter tagline embodies this idea; “Speak with confidence like never before… Present like you never imagined. Daily incremental improvement is a fantastic goal to work towards. It really is. Who would not want to be better every day? BUT…we can aim higher. Look for the breakthrough moments and take bold risks. The right planning and preparation can give you the courage you need to take advantage of those moments when they present themselves. Starting this website has been my bold risk. It’s been a considerable investment of time for all involved, but it has also been a tremendous learning opportunity. If I can do it, anyone can.

Guidepost #2: Understand the role of failure in growth
Have you ever watched a superstar athlete at work? One of the things that set them apart is how they appear to do their jobs so effortlessly. It’s almost possible to believe they were born with the skill. What you don’t see are the thousands of hours of coaching, practice, drills, and most importantly, all the unsuccessful attempts. I wanted to be one of those great athletes. I was a competitive fighter, and I remember training so hard going into my first competition. Unfortunately, I was eliminated after my first match. I could have let myself be dejected and quit, but the good thing about fighting is that it really shows you where your weakness lies and what to work on. Knowing this, you can come back smarter and more resilient. I kept working at it and two years later I got Silver at the World Grappling Championship. You only truly lose if you fail to learn something. That great quote from the movie “Rocky Balboa” encapsulates this: “It ain't how hard you hit; it's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.” 

Guidepost #3: You’re not alone

I’m a lucky person. I have always had friends and family I could count on whenever I was in need. Unfortunately, there were times I was in need and didn’t ask for help. I struggled alone, wasting time as well as mental and physical energy (I learned from that! See Guidepost #2). You can set your lofty goals at being a better presenter, knowing full well that there will be some failures along the way, but you will never be alone. We want to help take the chaos out of presentation planning and preparation. The readers of this blog and the members of The Better Presenter Academy and Community will steer the direction of this website. We want to hear about your needs so that we can help you smash those goals and set new ones.
And there you have it. You know a little bit more about me and the objectives of the Better Presenter team. We hope that you will share your personal goals and some of the obstacles that you face. Working together, transformation isn't just an ambition but a certainty. With that, I will face into the wind and bellow the traditional first blog-post greeting:

“HELLO, WORLD”

Let’s do this!

Chris

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