It’s late summer 1999. My dad and I are standing in the lobby of a crowded restaurant, waiting to be seated.

A man in his early 30’s wearing medical scrubs walks toward us and looks at my dad.

“Mr. Davis?

Dad says, “Yes. Can I help you?”

“Mr. Davis, I’m James. You might not remember me, but you were my biology teacher at Three Rivers Junior High back in the mid 70’s.”

“I’m sorry, James, I don’t remember.”

“That’s OK, I just wanted to come over and say thank you. Junior high was a tough time for me. Not just adolescence, but because my family was going through a tough time. I was really struggling, but you gave me a lot of confidence that I could succeed.”

My dad straightened up a little taller, and with sincerity said, “Thank you, James. That means a lot.”

“That’s not all Mr. Davis. Because of your biology class, I took an interest in medicine. I ended up going to med school and today I’m an emergency room physician. Thank you for inspiring me to get into medicine.”

What Does This Have To Do With Speaking?

When this exchange took place, I was getting my first experiences speaking to audiences. My opinion of professional speaking was that you stand in front of a group, give a speech and have a brief opportunity to influence them.

When I heard how my dad had such a long-term impact on James, it changed my perspective. I realize that the purpose of presenting, just like teaching, is to plant seeds in the minds of your audience. To show them what’s possible, and to inspire them to change their behavior or outlook.

It also helped me understand that speakers have to accept they are often not going to immediately see the benefits of their work. They have to trust they are providing valuable insights that may not come to fruition for years.

This has been a huge step toward helping me focus on the benefits to every audience.

Every time you give a presentation, it’s an opportunity to be quickly forgotten, or to plant seeds of hope. You may receive initial gratitude from your audience, but you’re typically not going to see or hear about the value you provide. Audiences typically don’t realize the benefits of your insights until they take action and create new outcomes. This could take years.

Want to leave a lasting impact?

Share your insights and your journey of overcoming problems in order to succeed. Don’t dwell on receiving feedback about instant audience success, but be ready. You never know when someone will walk up to you in a restaurant years later and tell you how much impact you’ve had on them.


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How One Encounter Opened My Eyes To Long Term Influence ultima modifica: 2023-03-06T11:14:18-05:00 da Michael Davis