What does it take to get remarkable results in leadership and life? Craig Valentine has a pretty good handle on this question.
Craig won the world championship of public speaking for Toastmasters International in 1999. Before becoming a full-time professional speaker and executive speech coach, he had a successful sales career with Glencoe/McGraw-Hill. He’s also an author whose books include The Nuts & Bolts of Public Speaking.
He’s come a long way. At age ten, Craig had a pronounced lisp. One day, a friend’s father told him, “Every time you talk you remind me of Daffy Duck.” That remark crushed young Craig–and changed the direction of his life.
Several years later, he walked into a bookstore and happened to come across Les Brown’s Live Your Dreams. After he paid for the book, the cashier said to him, “Good luck living your dreams.”
Craig shared these stories when he spoke this month at a Toastmasters’ conference near Washington, D.C. Here are seven takeaways from his talk:
1) Average people place blame. Successful people take responsibility. Avoid the tendency to point fingers at spouses or employees when something goes wrong.
2) You are always too something to someone. Some examples: You’re “too quiet” to be a leader, “too inexperienced’ to manage a department or “too old” to start a business. Be too good for it to matter.
3) Create a mess to create a message. You may have to sift through a huge pile of thoughts and wordy ideas before you find a message that’s succinct — and right. Aim for a crystal-clear foundational phrase that’s fewer than ten words.
4) Always state the result before the request. Figure out what your audience really wants and start from there.
5) Don’t get ready. Stay ready. You never know when an opportunity will come along. Be prepared to seize it when it does.
6) Silence is the best tease. This is a good tidbit to remember for a business pitch. Use pauses to let your key ideas sink in and keep your audience hungry for your message.
7) Specifics stick. Avoid vagueness if you want to be memorable.
Good luck living your dreams.