Allow me to add my blessing to all the good wishes you’ve likely had laid upon your New Year. I truly hope that 2021 is your best year yet. May it be for you a year of restoration, a year of prosperity, a year of growth, and a year of deep meaning and love beyond all you’ve known.

Now, let’s get to it.

In this first Leading Thoughts of the new year, I want to talk to you about perhaps the most important skill you will need to be a success in the times that are upon us. I’m referring to your speaking ability.

Let me quickly remind you that I apologized to you last year for not emphasizing this more. My firm coaches speakers and I didn’t want to appear to be marketing our services in these Leading Thoughts. So, I rarely mentioned this matter of speaking. Then, Warren Buffett changed everything by saying publicly that a person can increase their worth by 50% by honing their speaking skills. I then reported this to you, apologized for not emphasizing it as I should have, and said I would make sure to give the topic its proper place.

Covid-19 has now made this vital. An ability to speak clearly and powerfully before a watching audience is more essential than ever. Think of it. Many of you are running your companies on Zoom. Your body from the shoulders up and your voice are almost all you have in that situation. You have to be of impact. In other instances, you may be speaking to a room full of socially distanced team members. The room feels cold, even suspicious. Folks are in masks. The normal facial feedback isn’t there. There are no handshakes, no hugs or pats on the back. Did you communicate well? You don’t know, but you do know that what you said to your audience is critical to the survival and success of your firm.

So I have no hesitation in starting 2021 with this eager insistence that you work on your speaking right away. Here’s where to start.

  1. Decide if you and your team need coaching. If your company’s success depends on speaking presentations—sales, marketing, celebrity appearances, etc.—then consider getting coaching. You can arrange it for an individual or you can sponsor a seminar that includes personal coaching for your entire team. Face this honestly. And, yes, we do this work. Contact us at Coaching@StephenMansfield.TV
  2. Create a culture of speaking excellence in your firm. Don’t tolerate boring Zoom presentations. Don’t tolerate mediocre speeches. Create incentives for excellence. Give feedback. Offer evaluations. Give awards for Best Zoom Presence, etc. Make speaking skills a priority. What you, the leader, emphasize, the firm will emphasize. If you find yourself challenged in the area of public speaking, talk openly about what you are doing to get help. Others will be inspired to improve as well. Make this part of the culture of your firm.
  3. Read books on speaking skills. You should already be doing this yourself. You can also give everyone in your firm a book about speaking. This sends a signal. I recommend anything on public speaking by Carmine Gallo (Talk Like TED is my favorite) and Peggy Noonan’s On Speaking Well.
  4. Watch videos. Become an addict of TED videos and also YouTube videos of famous speakers in history. You become what you behold, so behold great speaking.

I can’t tell you how essential it is for you to take stock of your firm in light of speaking excellence. Take time to ponder this. Pull in some trusted team members and get their counsel. Craft a plan. I’m not being overly dramatic when I say that for some of you reading this, your level of speaking excellence will determine your success in the coming year of restoration and reset.