Struck up a conversation with a fellow Toastmaster today on “What makes the difference?” We watch Toastmasters and speakers all the time. Some get better and some do not. Some offer lots of ways for their evaluator to help them, some barely even offer a hint of weakness. Certainly some things are just genetic or people are born with certain skills, but the vast majority who are competant presenters have worked at it. Those who change the most are the ones who want to change. Those interested in “10 speeches and done” to get their CTM rarely finish their 10th speech with any appreciable skills over their first.Another thing we discussed was why the apparently same techniques can work sometimes and not work others. I’ve actually been reading about some similar topics in Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point. While the answer is always more complicated than some trite solution, there are certainly principles at work here. One of the key ones in both fields of play (presentation and leadership) is channeled enthusiasm. I find that people with passion are typically much more able to stir others to change. Those who have to work at building enthusiasm (even though they can be quite convincing) are much less successful at getting others to follow.One thing I know from experience: If you continue doing the same thing, your results don’t change (except when the lottery comes due, but I’m not going to stake my health and well-being on billion-to-one odds). I also am grateful for those who possess the passion and share it — they are the ones that spur me to keep going, to change, and to make a difference. I had two encouraging words this week — neither person could have known how I needed to hear it. One simply said they enjoyed something I had written and it brightened their day. Another said that something I offered had resonated and made a difference in their world and their communication. Both were infinitesimally small on the scale of human existence, but the fact remains: I made a difference! You can, too.
If it’s not working, change it. Be the difference you want to see.