This week I was enjoying a terrific class of eager, ready-to-learn students. They were doing great, and becoming so confident that I decided to experiment a little bit. At the beginning of the second day, I asked each of them to reflect on what they had observed about their own presentations during the first day, and then asked them to write on a notecard the two things they would like to focus on for the next presentation. I told them I would coach them and give them feedback specifically on those two goals.
As each person came to the front to speak, they handed me their cards. Their goals ranged from reducing fillers to standing straighter to making steadier eye contact, all things we had worked on the previous day. What was so incredible is that each of them gave their best presentations, and almost to a one, they aced the goals they had set. I gave them positive reinforcement verbally and wrote positive feedback on their cards. These presentations were terrific!
The next presentation was the one that tends to be hardest one for most people. It focuses on actual business content and includes adding and working with slides. Many of my clients take a backward step in this presentation, because it is stressful they often revert to old habits or read the slides more than they should. But in this case, everyone in this group continued with powerful speaking skills, and once again aced these tougher presentations. I was pleased and amazed.
As I reflected on what made this group so successful, I realized they were already primed for success. They had bonded with one another, which helped. They had felt relaxed and safe, which also helped.
But was there more to it? Did writing their goals on the cards make a big impact? I think it did, and here is why.
- They took ownership of their own goals and had the choice of which ones to focus on.
- Writing out the goals made them more concrete.
- They were only focusing on two behaviors, not a hundred.
- They knew I was watching specifically for those behaviors and would be giving them feedback.
- It helped ME stay focused on what THEY wanted rather than what I thought they should be doing.
- They received immediate, specific feedback and coaching on how to create the behavior they wanted to see.
Going forward, I know they will have moments of self-doubt, or get nervous and play it safe. Hands will go back into pockets, and sometimes fillers will creep back into their speech patterns. But I know, and they now know, what they are capable of. Hopefully they will receive positive feedback and continued reinforcement from people around them so that these behaviors will become ingrained habits.
And yes, I'm going to use coaching cards again soon.