Use the right tools
Monday, May 7, 2018 at 11:30 AM
Ann Timmons

Spring is here, and that means it's time to tackle those home repairs. Last week I had a nagging plumbing problem fixed, and it's such a relief! I'd been searching for months for someone to do a seemingly easy job: replacing the leaky pipe leading to my outdoor spigot. But finding the right plumber meant I needed one who had the appropriate tools. I thought "how hard can that be? Plumbers all have tools for this, right?" Apparently not. 

While the plumber was fixing my pipe, I made a connection between his work and my work with clients. Because I often find myself urging them to find the tools, processes, and systems that work best for them.  Preparation is the key to being an effective speaker, but if you lack instruments to help you prepare, and the right places to store that preparation,  you can still fall short of your speaking goals. 

Many of my clients do most of their business speaking over the phone: client pitch meetings, status updates, reports.  And many, who would of course do lots and lots of preparation for a keynote or panel presentation, go into their calls with a jumble of notes jotted on scraps of paper, or a few bullets in a document on their screens. Because if you're on speaker and not video, clients and team members can't see your lack of organized preparation...or so goes the conventional wisdom. But people do hear when you're scrambling to find a critical piece of info. Even if you have it here somewhere, they can tell that it's not where it should be: at your fingertips.

It's always refreshing to share a success story! A new client, who was already big on prep but knew she needed some help, followed my advice and looked for tools to make the most of her phone meetings. And she found a notebook with which to create an organizing system that works for every type of call she'll have. With a small investment of time upfront, she was able to convert a wide variety of notes into a handy folio of information that she will use time and again. She has told me that she is already more confident and present on her client calls. And others have noticed, too.

Take a minute and review your tools. You're smart. You know your stuff. But if pertinent info isn't right where you need it when you need it, you run the risk of being like the first six plumbers I contacted: unable to get the job done.  

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