Speech Smarts

What’s The Point of Sloth?

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We all need to take a break sometimes.  Taking it easy helps recharge your batteries and clear out the clutter in your mind.  Emptying your mind from time to time is fine; however, living an empty headed life is just lazy.  You become slothful when doing nothing is all you want to do.  Rest should be something you need to succeed not the thing only you succeed in doing.  Shakespeare warns us all, especially slothful speakers, when he has Macbeth say,

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing

Don’t be an idiot. Make sure there is a point to every presentation you make.  Slothful speakers confuse thinking with talking, scoring points with making a point, and effect with effectiveness.

“That was a dramatic presentation. You made everyone laugh and you almost made us cry. There is only one big problem.  You never asked for the order.”   When Steve Bright, my boss, pointed this out he was right and I was stunned and embarrassed.  I was a slothful salesman.  By neglecting to ask for the order, there was no point to my sales presentation.  All my strutting and fretting was pointless and, surprise surprise, my prospect never purchased anything.  In order to profit from your presentation you must have a point. Over the years I have learned to ask for the order.  In fact, my sales presentations often begin by clearly telling my listeners what I want them to do.   But I am not salesperson you say, really?  Every presentation you make is a sales presentation.  At a minimum you sell your opinion, your perspective, and your relationship or fail to. Your presentations are disordered when dramatic effect trumps direct effectiveness.

A presentation is a conversation with a point.  Don’t start speaking until you know what you want your listeners to do.  If you want a friend to listen and not try to solve your problem, tell them this is what you want.  If you want your audiences to buy into your plan, tell them that is what you want them to do.  Pathetic presenters offer meek mouthed points which sound more like apologies than calls to action.  Presenters who shoot for having everyone like them usually miss the mark.  Making a point should provide your listeners with direction not a plea for their affection.

Slothful speakers are so lazy they think, just because they are talking, everyone is listening and understanding.  Your listeners want and need to know what to do with what you are saying.  You need to continually answer the question in their head.  You are probably asking the same question right now.  So, what’s the point?

Here’s the point.  Don’t be lazy with your language. Choose words which agree emotionally with the ideas you want to express.  If you don’t know how you feel, it is best to keep your mouth shut. Stop clutter your listener’s heads.  Ambivalent presentations result in ambivalent actions.  So what do you ask for?  Well, as obvious as it may sound, just ask for what want you want.  You see, receiving is reserved for the special few that ask.  Why are we often too lazy to ask for what we want?  Because, we are afraid of rejection and at a deeper level, we fear how our desires will define us.  When you stop being lazy about what you want, what you need to succeed becomes clear and what you do become significant.

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About the Author:

David Nemitz has designed and delivered over 10,000 sales presentations, professional development programs and executive coaching sessions for corporations and governmental organizations such as the US State Department, The French Consulate, and American Express. When he is not helping others define and refine their strengths, you can find him watching the sun set over The Magic City or strolling through The City of Light where he lives with his wife Ninette.