One Question if You Hate Mediocrity

I hate speakers that put me to sleep, I hate presentations with no purpose, and I hate it when the boss requires me to sit through an hour-long meeting that could have been condensed into an e-mail.

Unfortunately, many such presenters think they’re great, but are shockingly mediocre. Let me give you a simple test to know if you are one of those presenters.

I’m sorry to tell you this, but you’re probably mediocre.

Most people are mediocre public speakers. By definition, mediocrity encompasses the majority. Mediocrity is the same as the average, and almost everyone is only slightly better of slightly worse than average.

The Minimum Standard of Excellence

Even people who think they are “better than average” at presentation skills rarely approach the echelon of the true excellence.

When it comes to public speaking, are you mediocre? Or are you truly excellent? Ask yourself this one simple question:

Could another person copy my presentation?

That’s it!

If you are copyable, then any mediocre copycat can replace you.  You are replaceable.

If you are un-copyable, you truly stand out from the crowd. You become irreplaceable.

The irreplaceable are NOT always excellent, but the replaceable ARE always mediocre! Which do you want to be?

Irreplaceable Talent

Just take yourself outside of the world of public speaking or business presentations and apply the rule to any other art. For example, pick your favorite singer.

The reason your favorite singer sells 4 million albums and the copycat sells 4 is because the original cannot be copied.

Can anybody truly copy Michael Jackson? Can you duplicate Freddie Mercury, Elvis, Madonna, or John Lennon?

Many people try, but the copy is never quite the same as the original. Whether or not you like the original is irrelevant–it doesn’t mean the original isn’t excellent.

Can anybody duplicate your favorite comedian, your favorite author, or your best friend?

True excellence is always one-of-a kind.

Can you imagine planning a dinner date with your best friend, but having a substitute show up and declare that your best friend hired her as a stand-in?

Carbon Copy Communication

Compare this to the office team meeting you had last week. Could anyone else stand in place of your boss? Could anyone else stand in the same place, say the same words and deliver the same message?

If your boss is Michael Scott from TV’s “The Office” then the answer is no. For everyone else, I’m betting the answer is yes.

I’m betting that the last speaker you heard was so mediocre that it would make no difference who actually stood behind the lectern and spoke the same words.

I’m betting the last conference you attended was full of presenters who spoke in such an impersonal style that you would have preferred to read the book than listen to them for another hour.

I’m betting that the last politician you heard ask for you vote was so canned that you have no idea what his or her actual real-life personality is.

Taking YOUR Communication Up a Notch

Unfortunately, I’m also betting that if I had a video of YOUR last presentation, I could give YOUR exact presentation.

That’s a problem!

I’m not saying I’m the best presenter in the world. I’m saying I rarely see presenters that cannot be copied. It’s not that I could do it–most of the time, anyone could do it–and it wouldn’t make any difference.

If you are truly original, if you truly imbue your presentation with personality, and you are truly excellent–it would be impossible for me to reproduce your speech. Different perhaps, but not the same.

What if you told a personal story–something that happened to you and not to me–I couldn’t copy that, at least not with authenticity.

What if you showed off your talents, uncovered your personality, and improvised with your own brand of wit? I wouldn’t be able to copy that.

What if you weren’t reluctant to demonstrate what makes you different, if you weren’t embarrassed by your own idiosyncrasies, and if you weren’t afraid to use words and style that are different than what everyone “expects?”

What if you tried NOT to do it just like everybody else?

I couldn’t copy that even if I tried. If someone can copy you, you can be 100% certain it is mediocre. If I can’t copy you, that is a 100% certain requirement for excellence.

Obviously, some types of uniqueness and personality are inappropriate for some occasions–but not as much as most people think. You can be yourself without being excellent, but you can’t be excellent without being yourself.

Reveal the Messenger

I believe this is the single most important principle of great public speaking. It is one of the 8 principles of my SpeechDeck presentation skills system and it changed me from a forgettable introvert into a dynamic stage presence.

Next time you speak I dare you to “Reveal the Messenger”–YOU!

Imagine if you were that comfortable in your own skin if front of your coworkers. Imagine if you were unique compared to all your competitors. Imagine if you stood apart from the mediocrity of all the other job applicants.

They’re gonna “hate” that!

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