Communications Boot Camp

“Performance feedback is not a synonym for criticism. It can be delivered without demoralizing the employee or breeding defensiveness.”

– DeAnne Rosenberg, Management Consultant

Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in a three-day workshop that helped me to assess and improve my communication skills. Prior to the workshop, I had a pretty high opinion of my presentation skills. Who was judging me? Certainly I was. And so was my audience. My evaluation sheets always showed very high marks. And yet, I felt that something was missing – that I could improve my delivery. But I couldn’t do it on my own. My ego wouldn’t allow it and I could not accurately critique myself. I needed a dispassionate observer – I needed a coach!

It is amazing what a video tape will reveal! The camera does not lie. We may try to convince ourselves that our delivery was crisp. That our message was compelling. But the camera does not lie. The camera sees and hears what our audience experiences. The camera will not turn off or tune out. But my audience might. The camera’s lens will not lose focus, but, when I am speaking, I sometimes do.

Actively studying the video results, with an experienced coach by my side, I was able to identify several areas that I need to work on. That is, if I have the commitment and self-discipline to do so. I do. I have already started to work on the specific areas that require my attention. I have my video set-up in my home office. And – because of the excellent coaching and feedback that I received during the workshop – I know what to look for. I know what to work on.

“Teachers open the door but you must enter by yourself.”

– Chinese proverb

I doubt that I would have embarked on this course to improve my communications skills on my own. I needed an impetus. I had a feeling that I was not living up to my potential. But I needed some one to open the door for me. I needed someone to point me in the right direction. I needed to receive honest and direct feedback about my communications skills. I needed to be able to accept the feedback. I needed to improve. I required a coach to help me to see what I could not see on my own.

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