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Beware of the Audience “BS” Meter

“I learned from Dad to see and smell out a bullshitter at five hundred yards.”  – Nancy Sinatra

There’s a massive piece of artwork at the entrance to the Sculpture Garden at the Delaware Art Museum.  Made out of 20 feet of twisted metal with a verdigris finish, it’s hard to miss.  The installation is entitled “The Crying Giant,” yet visitors who encounter the piece always laugh out loud.

I’m not sure what the artist (Tom Oterness) had in mind when he named the piece, but each time I walk past it I wonder if he’s OK with the reaction his piece engenders.  I’ve decided that he’s fine with it and perhaps even enjoys the disconnect.

The same cannot be said for public speaking.  Every audience I have ever encountered has a built-in Bull#@% Detector.  If you as the speaker are not genuine, truthful, and aligned with your message, your audience will pick up on it and suddenly that needle has moved into the red zone.  They don’t like it.  Correction: They don’t like you.

I worked with a client last week who called because his recent presentation to pitch a new project to his peers was a ‘swing and a miss.’  He said, “I struck out and I need to find out why.”   As it turns out, his ultimate goal was to get his colleagues to support his own personal and professional agenda.  He figured he could just mask his real purpose by hiding it in organizational buzz words about being innovative thinkers and seizing synergistic opportunities.  But everyone saw through it.  Now he has to do a lot of work to swing the needle back to the left.

The next time you have to persuade or inspire others, be sure that your objective is directly aligned with your delivery.  Be genuine and forthcoming, and your audience will most likely join you on your journey.

– Barbara

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