In the eighth grade, I learned about a special box. It was in my physics class with Mr. Berger. This kind fellow with round spectacles, lumberjack shirt and greasy hair taught us about the black box.
In science, computing, and engineering, a black box is a device, system or object which can be viewed in terms of its inputs and outputs, without any knowledge of its internal workings. […] Almost anything might be referred to as a black box: a transistor, an algorithm, or the human brain. (Wikipedia)
Since my beginnings as a communications trainer in 2009, I challenged my participants to come up with factors that make a person a great public speaker. I realized that people tend to think more in output than in input terms.
Great public speaking drivers that are often mentioned are:
All these factors are clearly characteristics of a great public speaker. But – all of them are output factors. I stopped thinking in output terms long time ago. I’m only curious about input.
Charisma, yes. But what drives charisma? Empathy, vulnerability, calmness – that’s the kind of factors I want to know about. Because I can actively work on them. Authenticity, yes. But what drives authenticity? Input factors like sincerity, honesty, personal stories. Motivation, yes. But what drives motivation? Input factors like energy, determination, acknowledgment.
I love to cook. Imagine all those output factors were dishes, tasty dishes. I have two options. One, I can praise the quality of that dish. Like Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) says in the movie Pulp Fiction: This is a tasty burger! Two, I learn about the ingredients of that dish. Then, I can cook that tasty burger myself.
Isn’t it a comfortable way in life to think in output terms only? He just has it. He is a natural. She was lucky. What a great leader she is.
Instead, I encourage you to take the more painful path. Question any output in life! Look for those ingredients and modify your input. And what can happen? What will happen?
O wonder! O wonder!
What a thunderstorm
of charisma will be born.