One of my favorite compliments to receive is that I exhibit mastery.
Whether I’m told I’m a masterful keynote speaker or that I am an expert speaking coach, each time I’ve received such a compliment inside I’ve giggled like a goofy school girl – because for too many years in my business I felt like the only thing I was mastering was mediocrity.
I love working with entrepreneurs, executives and thought leaders who have demonstrated mastery in a key area and are ready to facilitate tremendous transformation for their audiences as a result.
Yet, I often find that even when people have the education, experience and results to embody the title “master,” their mastery is often not showing up in their presentations and coaching, consulting or training offerings.
If we want to speak with moxie, coach with moxie, lead with moxie (do anything with moxie!), it’s vital to integrate mastery into the subjects we speak about and in how we serve our audiences.
Whenever a client, audience or tribe member tells me their work feels hard, or they aren’t getting plum speaking gigs, or they don’t have enough clients (or their clients don’t stick around), I can usually sniff out that there’s a mastery problem at play.
Rarely is the situation that the person doesn’t have mastery in a particular area. I don’t subscribe to the belief that mastery is primarily achieved through fancy pants credentials, polysyllabic titles or decades of experience. So, even if you are new-ish to speaking or to your business, please understand I am not giving you a permission slip to defer stepping into your moxie in speaking/business until [insert deferred milestone of your choosing].
Rather, mastery is knowing how to integrate your unique experiences, abilities and points of view to guide the people you serve toward their own self-discovery and self-mastery.
Here are four recommendations to ensure you are bringing your mastery to how you speak and serve.
1. Use true real-world cred.
This might sound obvious, but if you have not succeeded firsthand or via your clients in what you are speaking about or showing other people how to do, don’t build your message and platform around it.
Let me call out some of the mishegas I (and probably you) have seen in the expert space that is sullying the fields of self-improvement and business and leadership development.
New coaches hanging out their shingles as business coaches – when they have neither built a successful business, nor handled business operations for another business.
Health coaches who make an important wellness pivot in their own lives – but don’t have a nutrition/medical background or training/experience in how to facilitate transformation for others.
I (we!) could produce multiple examples, but you get the gist.
One’s personal experiences can be a key pillar of one’s mastery, but it should not be the only (or even primary) one.
2. Go for depth rather than breadth.
If you’re feeling a little uncomfortable after reading my first tip, consider how your previous careers, education and experiences might give you mastery in one specific subset of the work you are moving into.
“An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made, in a narrow field.” – Niels Bohr
For example, maybe in a previous career you were constantly on the phone, having persuasive conversations with prospective clients for your company. While you may still be in the early growth stages of entrepreneurship and calling yourself a business expert, business coach or business speaker may be over selling, you may very well have mastery in sales calls or negotiations. Start there. It’s easier to widen one’s platform after getting known than it is to narrow one’s platform after floundering for too long.
3. Align the structures you are using with what people really need.
I love coaching individual speakers, but I recognized early on that a lot of my private clients who only worked with me one-on-one weren’t experiencing the same results as people in my group speaking programs – despite having a lot more face-time with me.
Actually, there were several.
Speakers take more risks, settle into their own style, and amplify their speaking presence when they see others doing the same. Also, I have mastery in curating groups and the bonds forged by people at my events and programs increased participants’ accountability and offered them deep peer support that complemented our work together.
While we might want to open a presentation with a twenty-minute story because it’s a good one, or move our private clients into digital courses or group programs because it frees up our time, when we are showing up from a place of mastery we align the structures for our work and our offerings with what will have the most positive impact on our people.
4. Use your own language when speaking about your work, creating your practices and frameworks, and marketing your offerings.
Not only is patching together other people’s approaches and verbiage unethical and often times illegal, it’s also an antidote to mastery. Masterful speakers, entrepreneurs and leaders aren’t copycats. They acknowledge the ideas and people their work is inspired by and unapologetically use their own brand-specific messages and create original IP.
“Borrowed thoughts, like borrowed money, only show the poverty of the borrower.” – Lady Marguerite Blessington