I founded Speakeasy Groups just over a year ago. It’s come a long way since. In fact it’s travelled all the way to Australia because on 14th February I got a nice surprise – not a Valentine’s card, but a call from associate Ian Berry (left) inviting me to say ‘hi’ and welcome his new Speakeasy group in Adelaide, live on speakerphone! I couldn’t see them but to hear those Aussie voices yell back was quite a feeling.
The other thing that’s come a long way is my OWN understanding of what Speakeasy is! You’d have thought I’d know, but it’s only been in recent weeks that I’ve really ‘got’ what it’s about – its depth and fundamental importance to all businesses.
If you were to say it’s about presentation skills, you’d be right but also wrong – that’s the bit of the iceberg that sits above the water. There’s so much depth to it because it’s the STORY and the telling of it that lies at the heart of any company, organisation or individual.
It’s what makes John Lewis, or Apple or Jeremy Clarkson what they are. It gives them their identity, their signature. It’s not about a logo or a mission statement; it’s about how people experience you. For a company that’s an amalgamation of lots of things – the way the phone is answered, the greeting at reception, the reliability of calls/emails being answered, the ease with which your web-site can be navigated, the outcomes you create for your clients, whether you’re just nice people to be with.
For the individual it’s much the same – do you know your stuff , keep your promises, observe good social etiquette and make people feel at ease?
ALL these experiences generate stories – people talk about you through anecdotes, and these stories influence other people. They create people’s perception of you.
So if you’re a business, here are some questions to ask of yourself:
- how do you describe your company when you’re asked to deliver your elevator pitch?
- have you got case studies/anecdotes to share – ones that portray you in a positive light, that give you a distinct identity?
- are these skilfully delivered as stories of transformation? (the client was HERE…but at the end they were THERE…).
- do you tell the HUMAN story of your company, or just the facts?
- are you capturing these stories, creating a story vault?
- are you learning from them?
- are you using these skilfully, weaving them into conversations?
- are you helping others re-tell them (and effectively spread the gospel)?
- are you using social media to extend their reach and propogate them at speed?
In Speakeasy we allow people to test-drive their core message in the form of a 5 minute presentation. And the feedback on the clarity of their story and delivery style is extremely rare and useful.
But there’s far more to it than mere presenting style. Your story is what gives you a distinct identity as a firm, makes you memorable, draws people into you and guarantees your success. It’s essential you connect with your own story, tell it well, live up to it and use F2F and social media to spread and cement your reputation.
It doesn’t get much more fundamental than that!