Why Inspiring Speakers Often Don’t Generate Action.

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Envision yourself at the lectern moments before speaking. You are about to inform your team on the new strategy you’ve developed in order to increase sales. Your presentation is loaded with critical facts and supportive info, each of which will bolster sales, your goal is to inspire the audience to take your new approach.

If you succeeded in inspiring them to act, the bad news is that only a few will execute on the plans. Like New Year’s resolutions, such as to lose weight, everyone starts with good intentions but doesn’t carry through and execute flawlessly. Why?

Changing behavior requires that a person have the knowledge, ability and motivation to make a change AND the social support systems to continue executing the new behaviors. The problem is that everybody already has a definite pattern of behavior, in which they respond to the “whirlwind” of demands, requests and events, and breaking out of the “daily grind” in the face of the whirlwind is very difficult.

I recently read The Four Disciplines of Execution (by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey and Jim Huling) and it offered a Strategy by which you can achieve your SMART goals (specific, measurable, accountable, realistically challenging, and time-defined). Here they are:

First, instead of trying to change all the behaviors at once, find a specific one that leverages the others to achieve the goal. For instance, if the goal is to get in better shape, by losing 10 pounds over 5 weeks, you might decide to leverage the initial activity: getting up an hour early to go to the gym.

Second, use appropriate (LEAD) measures to determine whether you are succeeding. Focus on getting up early, going to the gym and working out – LEAD measures that you control and will produce the LAG indicator – losing 2 pounds per week, which over 5 weeks will produce the result: being more fit. Weight Watchers successfully uses this approach by focusing on consuming specific meal portions. Weekly weigh-ins and the social support of others, keep you further in line.

Third, use a scorecard that focuses on the LEAD behaviors. For instance, record each day that you got up early and then went to the gym or ate the proper portions of food. Pounds lost per week is a latermeasure.

Fourth, create a “cadence of accountability” – a pattern of making public commitments to other people around who can then provide feedback on whether you’re keeping the promise.

So, let’s turn to the presenter and how he/she truly influences people. First, identify one key goal that audience members can execute and leverage to then act on others. Second, focus on the LEAD measures of success: making five sales appointments per week. Third, record the results, such as engaging in 5 sales presentations per person. Finally, engage other people to hold you accountable
for taking the difficult first steps and reinforce you for your actions, such as celebrating the number of qualified sales calls met and orders received.