A video from ESPN today baffled me. It showed a minor league pitcher who can pitch both left-handed and right-handed. While there are numerous switch hitters in the major leagues, Pat Venditte is the first ambidextrous pitcher in a hundred years. What is more, he is quite good. He has one of the best strikeout to walk ratios, pitches up to 93 mph on the right and 86 mph on the left - so he is not just a freak show.
What I found interesting about this video is that he is making history. Whether or not he makes it to the MLB is unknown. However, I don't watch any minor league baseball (except for the occassional Sioux Falls Canaries game), which means I don't know any minor league player - except now.
How does this deal with communication? Pat Venditte uses his skill to his advantage. He is able to pitch to the side of the batter that they don't want to face -- every batter. This is giving him a step up against other players, which will help him be successful. Being able to give a great presentation is a great skill that a lot of business professionals do not have. If you can gain that skill, you will get a step up against your competition. Don't think that it is something that you can't learn - you can. Working on a becoming a great presenter is something, that if worked on, can lead you to great success.
Last week I was able to catch up to an old college friend. We weren't best buds in college or even hung out together that much. However, we both worked together on a couple of projects and got along quite well. Over the years, I hadn't seen much of him and then last week, by chance, we were able to catch up on old times and talk about what we had been up to. During this time, we discovered that through our different endeavors, we could help each other out.
The reason I tell this story is simple. By making a connection with someone in college - by being friends and working together - I was able to make a connection with someone whom I am going to be able to work alongside with, even though we haven't seen each other for years. Making connections with people is extremely important. While all of us know the importance of making friends and connections with people in school and our work, we sometimes forget how important they are. This is especially true when it comes to the importance of making a connection to your audience when speaking.
Most people, unfortunately, don't realize the power that they can get from their speeches when they make a connection with the members of the audience. If you can make a connection with them, your speech will go beyond being another speech to one with major impact. When you make a connection with someone when giving a speech, they become attached to you. It is a lot like making friends during college or when you are working. You meet people and if you make a connection with them, you know that you will work with them in the future. Your speeches are no different - so don't treat them differently. Be personable and engage your audience by talking to them, not at them. Be friendly and accessible. Being those things will allow you to connect with your audience. This connection will forge an allegiance with your audience and you will succeed beyond your wildest imaginations.
I am really glad that I got to catch up with an old friend and now we're going to start working on things together. It is that connection, which I took for granted, that has made all the difference. Make that difference for your speeches and see what happens.
There are many times in my life that I wish I was an English Major. For example, once I started blogging on a consistent basis, having an English background would have been nice. Additionally, giving speeches and helping critique speeches are a central component of English. While I feel confident in my abilities to give a great speech and critique someone else's speech, the composition portion of it could have benefited from an English Major.
Politics is no exception. Language defines how we look at different issues in politics. If a politician uses just one wrong word or one word is mis-construed to mean something else, it can get them into trouble. Minnesota Public Radio had a great program today on linguistics. Linguist George Lakoff discussed political language and how it is affecting the health care debate.
I thought it was a great interview and wanted to highlight it. Just remember that when you are giving your speech and you want to be persuasive - language matters!
One of my favorite radio programs is On The Media on NPR. I especially like how On The Media describes what they are. They state that they "explores how the media 'sausage' is made." Essentially, they make sure that what the media is covering is honest, transparent and correct.
In this weekend's episode, they take a peering eye at conspiracy theories and the eulogy of Walter Cronkite. In both instances the show examined the so called 'evidence' that the news was using and broke it down to see if there was any truth in the stories. What I found most interesting was the story on the eulogy of Walter Cronkite. In the eulogies, the AP had reported a couple of items that most people thought were true - especially since it was reported in the AP eulogy. However, once some research was done, those statements were found out to be false.
In this day and age of instant news and the 24-hour news cycle - lies and false claims can be rooted out in an instant. In the past if someone stated something it took quite a bit of time for that comment to be refuted with the facts. Unfortunately by then, the comment had become conventional wisdom and was harder to dispute - even though the original statement was completely false.
This means that if you are giving a speech you have to make sure all of your facts are correct. I am not suggesting that anyone who reads this blog has intentionally lied in their speeches and presentations. Unfortunately though, we sometimes think that we know something is correct when it is actually false. When this happens, people refute what you have to say and it can hurt your credibility. Make sure to double-check all of your facts and statements that you are making. This will not only help you answer any questions should they come up, but it will ensure that you are taken seriously. Credibility when giving a speech is a key component to effective speech making - it goes back all the way to Aristotle - so make sure you keep that credibility.