Seems like there are a billion and one business titles based on the idea that people stop when they think they are good, and miss out on being really great. Many of the speakers I work with fit that description perfectly. And because speaking is not a common skill of the general populace, when people hear they are good, they become (over)confident and don’t ever get to be great.I’ve just come off a consolidated time of formally reviewing about 8 speakers, and seeing another half dozen or more informally. All of them were good. Each would be considered a thought leader. Every one of them was a comfortable presenter. Every one knew their topic and their presentation cold. They were approachable, most were funny, and they all likely received top marks on their ‘smile sheets’ (side note: virtually no one receives bad marks at speaking events with those evaluation forms, which makes you wonder who reads them and what their purpose is, but I digress).And yet only one or two even approached great. And I think it’s likely because they are good.Greatness is not inherited, seldom is a result solely of just hard work, and often isn’t even a point where we can clearly define. But as long as we know we haven’t achieved greatness yet, there’s hope we still might.In communication, true greatness is a combination of what we have to say combined with how we say it (things that can be taught and learned), but also the environment and timing of the message and its match with the audience that receives it. Rule #1 applies to each element. Being good (instead of great) at any of one of the elements means that we’ve fallen short of greatness. In the case of delivery (how we say it), I’m becoming more and more convinced that most speakers/presenters have just never been taught. For content, we mistake folks’ passion for a subject with a connection to our message. And many of us (myself included) are often just too selfish to figure out what the audience (whether 1 or 101) really wants and needs. All can be overcome. And that’s what it takes to be a great communicator.
Never settle for good. For that matter, never settle. Get better.