A Vaccine Against Chicken Speech

2nd August, 2014 - Posted from janebeard

When I read this blog post by the brilliant Seth Godin today, I groaned out loud. And I bookmarked the piece to come back to as often as needed.

Just this week, I was doing some laser coaching with a speaker to create and deliver a message that would rock the audience. That was her stated goal: “I want to ROCK their WORLD! They need to take action now!”

And yet, she was so worried about what her CFO would think that she kept watering down her beliefs, deleting totally compelling data to build a weaker case…the kind of case that wouldn’t alarm her boss.

I urged her to talk to him and tell him exactly what she was planning, and why. “Don’t assume he’s chicken — assume he wants what’s best for the company, and make the case that telling them straight is what’s best for the company.” We spent the whole session crafting the words to build the case, and then finding her courage to bring it to him.

I’ve sent this piece to her. But I wanted others to see it, too. Because so often we all make choices that assume the person we have in our mind’s eye — our boss, a parent, a spouse, a rival, whomever — is full of fear and would prefer the small and ineffectual move over the bold(er) impact move.

If you’re crafting a presentation and hear yourself or one of your team members say, “we can’t say that!” do this: Stop. Regroup. Go read this Seth Godin piece again. Don’t make the chicken play. Fight for the real message, the straight stuff, the ideas that will move your audience to do something NOW.