The other day, I received a phone call by a prospect who explicitly asked for a two-day teambuilding event for his team of directors. A novelty. I always thought that teambuilding events were limited to fancy activities like jumping off tall trees, canoeing in ferocious rivers or bowling enriched by a nebulous Karaoke session.
My new client explained to me that he had talked to a peer of his company, another client of mine, and that the latter had praised the teambuilding effect of my public speaking seminars.
So – can public speaking really help build a team?
For me, based on my experience as a trainer, the answer is a big fat Yes.
Three reasons – respect, feedback, transparency.
In two days, you get to know your colleagues much better than ever before. You learn about exciting facets of their lives. Stories they would never share with you in “normal” circumstances. Like running the New York marathon. Or their participation in a world tour of a production of The Magic Flute when they were a kid. Or their social commitment on weekends. Or their dream of opening an archeological museum.
It’s your colleagues’ private life accomplishments, their passions, visions and dreams that make you change your perception towards them. In the end, you see them in a different light.
You learn to respect them more.
How many times your colleagues come over to you on a random day and tell you only good things about you? Never? Welcome to the club. Our world of feedback favors only one prefix – minus.
In a public speaking seminar based on positivism and constructivism there is no place for minus. Your colleagues only tell you what you do well and what you could do even better.
Every time you speak you receive positive and constructive feedback. Every time one of your colleagues speaks you give positive and constructive feedback. This process, inevitably, leads to a Virtuous Circle. All members of the team fall into a trap of mutual appreciation.
You learn to like them more.
For me, the most important driver of teambuilding in a public speaking seminar is emotional transparency.
It’s not their arguments (Logos) that build robust bridges of sympathy between them. It’s not their credibility and authority as professionals (Ethos). What builds those robust bridges pf sympathy between all team members is Pathos. Emotional links created by emotional transparency.
You might not get along too well with a colleague. You might think he is arrogant. Or – you cannot stand his attitude of bossiness. Whatever it is that makes you not like your colleague, everything changes the moment you hear about the death of his brother at the age of 15. Leukemia. Silence. Tears.
It is very hard for us not to feel with someone when we connect on an emotional level. I learned that emotional transparency is the ultimate key to teambuilding.
Next time you plan a teambuilding event, add public speaking to your list of jumping, canoeing, bowling and singing. It has definitely a more lasting effect.