Speaking: It’s not about You

speaker-at-podium-e1433906390544A would-be speaker told me he desperately needs to tell his story.  It’s a sad story, though it ends on an upbeat note. It’s also a compelling story; it could generate a lot of interest.  But that’s not the point, is it?

A client said she has trouble sticking to the time she’s given to speak because, “I have so much information I need to share.”

You might be familiar with the feeling. You have an opportunity to talk and you don’t want to waste a minute. You cram your speaking time with content; you think if they just understand how important it is, they’ll buy. Or buy in to your idea.

Time to take a step back.

The mistake these folks are making is making it all about them. Their needs. Their information. Their agenda.

Successful speakers spin that around. Instead of focusing on their own needs, they emphasize what their listeners need. They strive to include information to educate or entertain their audience (ideally, both).

Look, people with tragic pasts sometimes do feel driven to talk about it; it’s understandable. And the place for that is a therapist’s office or support group. The healing has to happen before they take their tale to a wider audience.

And those who are enthusiastic about a company, a cause or a candidate often get the notion that if they just give us enough reasons for their passion, we’ll share it. We’ll be compelled to buy their product, donate to their organization, vote for their candidate.

The reality is: when we’re bombarded with information, we shut down and shut out that earnest speaker who’s trying so hard to enlist our support. When we sense a speaker crossing boundaries or venting their emotions for their own sake, it makes us uncomfortable. We pull back instead of leaning in.

So. Of course you have an objective when you speak, whether it’s a keynote or a brief introduction at a networking meeting.  You DO want us to buy or donate or support – you want us to take some action or you wouldn’t be speaking.

How do you reconcile your appropriate desire to influence your audience with what I just said about focusing on their needs rather than yours?

Try this. Run everything you’re going to say about you through the filter of them.

Stop and ask yourself:

  • Who are the people I’m talking to? What fascinates them? What drives them? What ticks them off?
  • What can I say about my service that will mean something to my audience? Here’s a hint. It’ll be about the results people get from your work, not about the process you follow.
  • How much information can they take in, given the time we have? (The answer is almost always less than you think.) And what else is competing for their attention?
  • How can I translate my jargon to their language? Example: they don’t live in a residential property. They live in a house, a home or a condo.  So a Realtor should use that language instead of “residential and commercial property.”  Same thing is true for you, whatever field you’re in.
  • Where can I replace the word “I” with the word “you”?  This can be as simple as changing phrases like “I want to tell you” to “You’re about to discover.”  Notice that the focus shifts from what you want (they don’t care!) to what they’re going to get.
  • What do I want them to think or feel or do as a result of what they hear from me?

Here’s your challenge. Sometime in the next week, you’re going to be speaking about your work or your passion (if you’re lucky, they’re the same thing).

Try running your material through the Filter of Them and see how it changes things.

catherine johns


Catherine Johns coaches business owners and professionals to be more pithy, potent and persuasive when they speak. So they can get more clients, have more impact and make more money. www.catherinejohns.com

3 Reasons Why You Need To Focus On Personal Growth in Your Business

Personal Growth

I want to start today’s post off with an exercise.  Repeat after me:

The most important asset I have is myself.

Now I want you to say that again, this time out loud.

The most important asset I have is myself.

To truly understand the magnitude of that statement you need to know why.

In my blog post, Why You Should Always Come First, I detail the significance of making yourself priority number one.  Now I’m going to explain how that self-devotion will lead to business growth.

No one else on this planet is in charge of your happiness or success.  This is why I work so hard with my clients to help them understand the importance of balanced living.  There is no business success without personal success.

I’ve compiled my top 3 reasons why personal growth is crucial to your business:

1.  Your Health is Your Wealth

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  A healthier you = a healthier business!

Emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually healthy people are more productive.  That’s not my opinion, that’s science!  There are plenty of studies out there proving this statement.

Get to know yourself on a deeper level.  The more self-awareness you have, the more apt you’ll be to setting SMART goals and achieving them.

Take care of yourself on every level and you’ll be performing at 100%.  In other words, increase your self worth, to ultimately increase your net worth.  Investing in yourself includes everything from adopting a healthy diet/exercise to meditation or reading an industry-specific book.

2.  Personal Growth Skills are Leadership Skills

In order to reach and achieve your business/professional goals you need to be a leader.  And someone who knows how to take care of others, most definitely knows how to take care of themselves.

Personal growth programs are becoming very popular at companies.  Google, for example, launched a very successful one several years ago.  Employees reported being much happier after completing the course and thus more apt to work harder.

Investing in the well being of your teammates and employees shows them that you value their health and happiness.  And satisfied employees want to make their “leader” happy.  A great leader will lead to better business growth and development.

3. You Can’t Make Everyone Happy

Face it, there will always be the complainers, the naysayers, the negative Nancies, Debbie downers, if you will.  They’re just a fact of life.  So instead of worrying about changing their minds, or making them happy, focus on making YOU happy.

If you flip this way of thinking and concern yourself with your own well-being and happiness, you’ll be able to better concentrate on your goals and future plans.  The bottom-line is, if you are not intentionally focused on growing you, how in the world do you believe your business will grow?

Personally I greet each day with this goal in mind: I want to be better today than I was yesterday and tomorrow I’ll strive to be better then today.

Now the question of the hour… do you take the time to grow yourself?  I want to know how you improve you.  If you don’t know where to start when it comes to personal growth, then let’s set up a complimentary Strategy Call.

To Your Continued and Ever-Growing Success,



Thought Provoking Tuesday: The Power of Your Thoughts

The power of thought

Welcome to this week’s Thought Provoking Tuesday.

Have you ever found yourself running late for an appointment and thought, “Watch me hit every single red light now.”

Lo and behold, you do.  Some would say it’s simply coincidence; I have a different answer.  You welcomed those red lights into fruition with your negative thoughts.

I am a firm believer that we have total control of our own thoughts.  If you allow an outside circumstance determine your happiness you’ll always be in a state of uncertainty.  For example, if your happiness depends upon a specific job or promotion and you lose that position then you also lose your happiness.

In order to maintain your happiness it needs to come from within.  You and you alone have the ability to think positively and will your happiness.

Here’s what I want you to do today, and every day moving forward.  Take control of your own happiness.  When a negative thought enters your mind, push it aside and replace it with a positive affirmation, like, “I am thankful for this day.”

In the comments below tell us what your affirmation will be when an unwelcome thought arises.

To Your Continued and Ever-Growing Success,


Let’s get you creating more happiness, positivity and success in both business and life, contact me for a complimentary Strategy Call and you’ll be one step closer.