My experience of World Class Communications 2017
Right now I’m experiencing something akin to post-holiday blues… except I haven’t been on holiday.
At the beginning of this week I took 2 days and a wedge of cash out of my business. I’m only really in the first 18 months of business and every penny counts. I also need every minute of every day I can get.
As a member of the Content Marketing Academy, I’d been party to the lead up of an event called World Class Communications organised by the academy’s founder
Chris Marr and delivered by author, internationally acclaimed professional speaker and marketing expert Marcus Sheridan.
Described as a workshop on ‘achieving true “World Class Communication” (WCC) with a three-fold purpose to help attendees become the greatest possible speakers and communicators they can be on the stage, in the boardroom and in the home’, it was clear there was no area of my life that wouldn’t benefit from Marcus’s training.
I’ve given a couple of talks this year and delivered a few workshops. I’m comfortable doing it and always get positive feedback, but when I decide I want to do something, I don’t just want to be OK at it, I want to be the very best I can be at it. Knowing Chris’s commitment to the development of his community members and having followed Marcus closely for the last few months, I knew that if I wanted to begin the journey to being ‘world class’ it was to World Class Communications I must go!
As if the magical backdrop of historic Edinburgh isn’t enough to stir the emotions, the event venue, The Lyceum has the power to completely shift your focus away from the day to day of running of a business and take your imagination to what could be possible.
How can I describe meeting Marcus for the first time? How would you feel if you met one of your heroes and they turned out to be not only just how you imagined they would be, but more down to earth, genuine and kind than you could’ve hoped? It’s a good feeling.
It’s a big venue that in coming years I don’t doubt will be filled, but this year, twenty-some of us were seated together, quite purposely like Sardines. Marcus went on to explain how he uses the ‘Sardine effect’ to create a feeling of togetherness and to create an intensity which can’t be achieved when people are spread around a room.
Sitting there, cushioned by my fellow students and just feet away from a teacher who looks you in the eye and says your name as though you’re the only person in the room, I knew we were all about to experience something special. The mixture of excitement and nerves flowing through our tight-knit group sure made for an electric atmosphere.
Never have I sat from 9am until 5pm (with three short breaks in-between) and been truly captivated by someone teaching. At no point did I crave a coffee break, at no point did my legs ache, at no point did I feel tired… in fact, come 5 o’ clock if Marcus had have said, “Shall we carry on until Midnight?”, I would’ve been there.
This has literally never happened to me before.
Marcus’s teachings are based around a number of ‘principles’ that take you beyond speaking in front of an audience to actually connecting, motivating, engaging and inspiring.
The very nature of the concept of World Class Communications means that the teachings apply as much to talking to your team, to your boss, to your spouse or to your children, as they do to public speaking. Once the theory has been learned and the technique mastered, it can be used in any situation.
Each one of the principles of WCC is a book, never mind a blog post, but to summarise, here’s just some of the things my mind was opened up to:
- The power of using Marcus’s “Yes… And” technique to maintain momentum of conversations and discussions and keep them on track, overcome unwelcome distractions, and generally turn any perceived negative moments into positives.
- How to structure a talk or presentation to allow the flexibility to shorten it, lengthen it and to use segments to create entirely new talks from existing material.
- How to effectively use stories to move an audience. Marcus told numerous stories throughout the day which gave the opportunity to observe story-telling in practice.
- How to engage an audience and facilitate their learning through the ‘Columbus Principle’. The basis of this principle is teaching through asking questions and allowing people to discover the answers for themselves. This part of the teaching alone has the power to transform someone’s communication skills when used effectively. Read more about the Columbus Principle here.
Honestly, you can learn as much from watching Marcus speak and interact with the audience as you can from the content he actually delivers.
Whether you want to make a connection, gain trust, convince someone of the point you’re trying to make or diffuse a heated situation, the WCC training provides you with the tools you need to do it.
Peppered throughout the course of the day were individual presentations. We’d been asked to prepare a five-minute talk on either something we have to talk on a lot in our work lives, or a personal story.
Watching your peers conquer their nerves and deliver a presentation that truly tells you something about them is a powerful experience in itself. To be able to watch Marcus provide constructive feedback on people’s talks, perhaps to give them an alternative ending or use a pause to dramatic effect, was invaluable. He has a way of seeing what others don’t see and what, quite often, we hadn’t even realised ourselves.
I’m not going to lie, this was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It’s one thing delivering a workshop on content marketing to people you’ve never met, it’s quite another telling a personal story in front of people you know. I hadn’t appreciated how difficult that would be. Was the applause and support from them at the beginning and the end and all the support they gave and are still giving worth it? Hell, yes!
How is World Class Communications different from other ‘public speaking’ workshops?
The WCC training goes far beyond the ordinary… encouraging audience participation, voice projection and presenting with confidence, for example. This stuff doesn’t scratch the surface of what it takes to captivate an audience and to make true connections, in fact, these things are merely by-products of the WCC principles.
It’s about compassion, it’s about psychology and it’s about passionately believing in what you’re saying and having the confidence for that passion to shine through.
Each principle Marcus teaches is about digging deeper. It’s about not just accepting things at face value but exploring the driving forces behind a particular concern someone has expressed, an answer to a question someone has given or a reason for something an individual has given to really get to the heart of the matter.
One of the best things to come out of WCC for me was the relationships I now have the chance to develop and the friendships I’ve made. There’s something powerful about a group of people who come together with a shared understanding and passion.
There’ve been a lot of events this year I could’ve justified attending and undoubtedly got a lot from but, for me, there was no question that I needed to be at World Class Communications (not least because it’s held in one of the most beautiful buildings in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, I’ll take Edinburgh over London ANY day of the week).
There was laughter, there were tears, respect was gained and friendships were formed. I think the fact that I’ve already secured my ticket for next year says it all really.
Find out more about World Class Communications 2018 at The Content Marketing Academy.
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I’ll never bombard you, I’ll always respect you, I just can’t wait for us to get to know each other better ?