HOW LUCKY ARE YOU? - Con Koutsikas Public Speaking and Communication Trainer and Coach

How Lucky Are You?

Many years ago, the great golfer, Gary Player, was being interviewed by a journalist after an outstanding round.  “Great round Gary, certainly had your fair share of luck out there today”.  After a brief moment of thought and contemplation, Gary replied “Yeah…  I did, but you know it seems the more I practice and the harder I work, the luckier I get”.  Clearly a tongue in cheek, subtle back hander to the journalist for the mere implication that luck had anything to do with his score and without a brief mention or acknowledgement of the enormous amount of work and the countless hours of practice Gary had put into his craft.  Typically, “luck” is thrown around cheaply in describing someone’s outstanding achievement or success in all forms of endeavour with little or no mention of the countless hours on the practice court or years of study to attain that success.   The general public only see the tip of the iceberg, the game winning shot or the billion dollar company float.

Communication and Public Speaking is no different to sport or other professional endeavours.  We all must continue to practice and improve our craft.  Through my courses and coaching I see some wonderful transformations, but here’s the kicker, if you don’t continue to work and build on the skills you have learnt, they’ll quickly leave you.  We’ve all heard the phrase “Use it or lose it”.  This applies to all areas.

I strongly encourage our students to join an amazing, global organisation called Toastmasters International.  Founded in the 1940’s in the USA, Toastmasters has grown and spread into most countries and cities in the world.  With regular meetings, it provides an educational and leadership program for members to develop and build on existing skills.   I joined Toastmasters International years ago to improve my technical skills.  I had no issue with fear or speaking to groups, but I recognised my skills needed work to help me progress to the level I needed to be at in order to deliver programmes and workshops within the corporate sector at the level which was expected.

I see such a diverse demographic at toastmasters.  All age groups, from PHD students who have to deliver a thesis, managers and executives from all levels to new international residents with English as their second language and the really cool thing is, I ALWAYS learn something from the other participants, all of them.  The American motivational / inspirational speaker, T Harv Ecker said you’re never too old to learn and never too young to teach.  This certainly applies!

Let’s get back to Gary and “luck”.    Luck has been describe as where preparation meets opportunity.  My view is winning a lottery is luck however kicking the winning goal, making the buzzer beating basket or building a successful business is so far removed from luck it’s not funny.   In most cases it years of practice, hard work and MANY disappointments along the way.   The great Les Brown said “It is better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one than have an opportunity and not be prepared”.  Are you prepared or preparing?  Why do I need to be able to speak in public you ask?  Well, firstly let’s clarify the term “public speaking”.

There is a misconception in the broader community that speaking in public is standing on a stage with a microphone and speaking to hundreds of people.  Whilst that is indeed an aspect of it, Public Speaking at its core is Communication.   It’s all about your ability to adequately and clearly convey your message.  Ask a girl out on a date, ask your boss for a pay rise, suggest an idea at a managers meeting, tell people about your business and so on……get the point?  What’s the likely hood you’ll get your pay rise if you can’t articulate and justify why you deserve it or you show nerves and can’t manage eye contact?  None and nought!

So, while you may not be looking to ask for a pay rise or even currently attend managers meetings, it’s inevitable that one day you will.  Will you be prepared or will you be unprepared and blind, metaphorically speaking?   Imagine this, your manger happens to be sick when an extra ordinary meeting is called with particular relevance to a project your department is working on and as his number 2, you’re called in to brief the other mangers………AHHHH!!!!  Oh, if only I had been prepared! why didn’t they give me more notice, I can’t do this etc. etc.  Effective public speaking and having adequate public speaking skills is the difference between success and failure and it looks like your “lucky” break has just been flushed and sadly for you, these “lucky “breaks seem to be few and far between.

I’ve attended many personal development and educational seminars over the years and in most cases, the speaker or facilitator would always remind us that the real seminar started when we got home.  In other words, we had learnt all the skills from listening and via some of the practical sessions but the real stuff was putting it all into practise in our business and lives and the importance of practice!  I can show you how to putt but if you don’t practice you’ll never improve and your putting ability will be somewhere between mine and zero!

Courses are designed to give you the framework and foundation but constant and continual improvement starts and ends with you.

Until next week, good luck and bye for now.

My name is Con and I am “The Con Versationalist”

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