Today’s New York Times ran a feature story on Jay-Z – rapper turned President of Def Jam Recordings. And a big league president at that, as the story explains the opportunity, including how his girlfriend and superstar Beyonce Knowles just “hangs around” his office.
What I found fascinating, and sad in a way, is his self professed inability to articulate and communicate and manage – and here he is – with an opportunity that came unexpectedly. (They usually do.) As the NY Times says:
Jay-Z still finds addressing a staff a bit uncomfortable. “When you’re on stage it’s like” ‘What’s up, Cleveland? Wave your hands in the air, say ho.’
"But to stand in front of people and give a speech and talk about the things you’re trying to do, it’s not easy.”
Not easy, unless you learn it early. And it is so learnable. Why do people wait until it counts most to learn to communicate, and then often miss the opportunity of high leverage when it will have the greatest impact – just because they haven’t learned the important skill of communicating and presenting well – when the heat’s on.
Three things to do NOW if you want to be your best when the pressure is on:
- Have a Point Of View. Tell people the Big Idea of what you are talking about, then what you want them to do, and finally what’s in it for them. (Most managers tell their folks what they want them to do and the benefits for the company or for the manager, but what’s the benefit for THEM?)
- You are your message – be passionate and enthusiastic about what you are saying. This is conveyed through your movement, gestures and vocal energy as the primary communicators of physical energy. Energy equals enthusiasm.
- Get yourself on videotape. See how you come across to others. I’ve trained tens of thousands of people, and without exception we undermine ourselves. We are much better than we think we are, as we imagine in our minds that we come across with much less impact than we actually have. You’ve got to see it.
Of course Jay-Z didn’t know or care about presentation skills in his rapper career, but as he has moved up the ladder, he cares. Never too late to learn.