Get out of your comfort zone!

What makes being a road warrior so rewarding? Being unexpectedly inspired.

Week after week as a Program Leader for Decker, I’m traveling to train clients of vastly different industries. It’s fascinating to train such a variety, from engineers and marketing gurus to sales sharks and executives because oftentimes, core communication issues are the same across the board. These people are just like you and me – they want to improve their skills to have more impact and influence in their workplace and lives.

Earlier this week, I led a two-day intensive training program in Chicago for a large insurance firm. But what made that program different was a participant who faced a unique challenge – she spoke with a stammer.

No one was aware of this woman’s impediment until she first got up in front of the room to speak. She knew from experience that she would be hard to understand as she gave her presentations, at times almost impossible, but she had the guts to get up five times and deliver to the group. She sat with our private coach to watch her video playback, just like everyone else. She gave and received feedback openly. What vulnerability. Here was a woman whom the world might disregard as a communicator, and yet there she was, delivering with influence.

I tell this humbling story because it inspired me to continue to step out of my own comfort zone and be vulnerable in order to continuously improve my craft. Here’s what I’m doing to constantly develop, and you can, too.

Ask for detailed, balanced feedback

  • Find an accountability partner you trust to watch out for you. For example, if you’re working on eliminating non-words (um, uh, so, you know), have that person listen carefully for non-words on your next call, and give you feedback afterwards.
  • Use the 3×3 feedback method. 3×3 feedback gives you both details on what you should keep doing, and what you need to improve. Oftentimes feedback from other people can be a shine job, so this helps ensure you get both sides of the story.

Take a good, hard look at that old slide deck

  • If you’re using the same deck with a variety of audiences, you’re in trouble. Your message will (or at least, should!) change with different audiences, so prepare your message first, and then pull slides in to a deck that will support you.
  • Try something new with your deck. Use black slides and incorporate SHARPs for memorability.

Seek opportunities to speak and practice

  • Is your organization leading an upcoming conference where you can lead a session? Any wedding toasts coming up? Say yes when an opportunity comes your way.
  • Are you giving a group presentation? Then practice with video before you deliver the real deal. You’ll be able to quickly see areas to improve.

Have you stepped out of your comfort zone lately? I shared a story, now you share!

2 comments on “Get out of your comfort zone!

  1. Thanks for your comment, Kent! The video would be inspiring, but we’re not in a position to post it on YouTube. Glad her story hit home with you, and look forward to sharing more in the future.

  2. Hi Jennifer, I admire her courage to speak even she she spoke with a stammer. Do you record that moment. I believe that during training, you did have video recorder, if you can post on youtube (permission from her), it would be very inspired.