August 26, 2012 fm

Who Is Your Benchmark?

For 3,013 days I worked for KPMG, the global advisory firm. Working in business consulting for almost a decade, I became familiar with a huge number of cliché business expressions like win-win, synergies, value chain, added value, work-life balance, customer focus, operational restructuring, cost drivers or benchmarking.

Once I worked on a benchmarking project for BMW, the German car brand. According to Wikipedia, benchmarking is the process of comparing one’s business processes and performance metrics to industry bests or best practices from other industries. Dimensions typically measured are quality, time and cost. […] In this way, they learn how well the targets perform and, more importantly, the business processes that explain why these firms are successful.

In public speaking you can also carry out benchmarking projects. Of course, you face other dimensions. Instead of quality, time and cost, in public speaking you deal with content, delivery and slides.

Who could be your benchmarks in public speaking?

On the content side, you can find inspiration from Martin Luther King, JFK or Steve Jobs.

Delivery-wise I recommend you watch Benjamin Zander, Hans Rosling or my TEDx talk for its memorable opening (English subtitles available on YouTube).

When it comes to your slides you will hardly escape from Garr Reynolds or John Zimmer.

All these people and other great communicators from Eleanor to Oprah would make great benchmarks for public speakers.

But – the fatal truth is that most of the people use totally different benchmarks. Most of the people use the gray boring mass as their benchmark. They use the rule of normality and not a vision of distinction.

How many times have I heard this standard phrase, “But you cannot do that!” And how many times have I replied, “Have you ever tried it?” Do you want to be a shining new BMW of public speaking or a rusty old LADA Niva? Stop comparing yourself with the gray boring mass on stage! Compare yourself with the best!

So – ask yourself: Who is your benchmark?

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