In a recent blog post by communication theorist and coach Nick Morgan he addressed the question, “What does happiness have to do with public speaking?”. While there was some very interesting information in the post, two paragraphs near the end really caught my attention.
“What does the pursuit of happiness have to do with public speakers? It’s a mistake to try to manage the happiness of your audience. Your job is to tell them something interesting, to change their thinking perhaps, in order to change the world. To do that, you may well have to make the audience unhappy. In any case the pursuit of the audience’s happiness should not be your first priority. You’re not the audience’s mood ring. You are their gateway to new ways of thinking. That is the fundamental problem with the whole emphasis on ratings in the speaking world – it pushes speakers to flatter and please the audience rather than challenge it.“
“Happiness should not be the goal and reading it from other people’s faces is a fraught task. Instead, focus on changing minds. That’s the true goal of public speaking.”
It struck me when I read this that some trainers are so concerned with getting great ratings and reviews at the end of the class that they will not challenge the status quo and challenge the way people think, they way they lead or the way they teach. As a result the audience is happy with the speaker, feels good about what they themselves are doing and give the presenter great ratings, but nothing changes or improves as a result of the training.
Now, let’s be clear. I am not suggesting that you insult the audience or be demeaning in the way you talk to them. You do however, have to be willing to make them uncomfortable by challenging them to think and act differently. That is the purpose of training – To inspire growth through change.
Be willing to support your positions with evidence as to why it is beneficial to the participants to embrace the change you are proposing because people will challenge you. You should expect and embrace those challenges. It is through those discussions, dialogues and debates that everyone will learn.
Remember that as a trainer you are not the audience’s mood ring. You are their gateway to new ways of thinking.
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