by Peter Watts
“Your mission, should you choose to accept it…..”
These words launch many a spy story. The key elements I would like to pick out for your consideration are:
“Choose to accept it”
Every presentation is a mission, and for that mission to succeed you must bring your total commitment to it. We want audiences to believe in us and the case we are making. For this to happen, we need to do two things:
- Know what our mission is
- Choose to both fully accept it, and own it
The word “mission” sounds similar to “envision”, and we want audiences to be able to clearly envision the positive outcomes that our recommended course of action will produce.
In doing this, we can sometimes be tempted to believe we can let “the facts speak for themselves”, but this is a mistake. Facts and figures are merely secondary indicators of something else; they are evidence that we have achieved a mission, but are seldom the mission itself. For example, achieving a 100% customer satisfaction rate is a great metric, but why? What does that gain? A 50% increase in sales is very worthy, but why? How does that help the business?
Supporters rally to a flag, never to a number. What is the mission you are waving before them?
Choose to accept it
The mission must be whole-heartedly embraced. Where does this mission connect with either our organization, department, or with ourselves as unique individuals? If you share that connection with the audience then you reveal a part of your own belief system that adds tremendous weight to your message. As James Kouzes and Barry Posner state in their book “The Leadership Challenge”:
“You can’t believe the messenger if you don’t know what the messenger believes.”
The best public speaking is always accompanied by passion; and passion is conjured from mission and belief as surely as the name Martin Luther King conjures the words “I have a dream”