Have you noticed that certain phrases suddenly become popular and then spread like weeds to everyday conversation – and they show up in presentations and speeches, too?
I remember about four years ago when “disruptor” became the buzz word of the technology industry. Everyone wanted to disrupt the status quo, finding a new and better way to do nearly anything. If you weren’t a disruptor or didn’t speak about disruption, you weren’t cool, and you couldn’t attract investors, media attention or customers.
Another phrase that has remained in vogue I heard first during a planning session for an annual conference for women entrepreneurs. “Let’s not go too far into the weeds,” urged one of the co-founders, Cindy Chase, an innovative corporate leader with UPS. She explained that she did not want our committee to spend valuable time going deep into details that could be handled later. (For more on Go for the Greens Business Development Conference for Women Entrepreneurs, now in its eighth year, Sept. 17-19 in Orlando at Disneyworld, visit www.goforthegreens.org)
Do you tend to go “too far into the weeds” when you’re putting together your remarks, whether for an internal meeting or for a key presentation or speech? It’s easy to get caught up in the idea of sharing all of the back story, the steps you took to reach your conclusions and recommendations. The sad reality, just as in a garden, nobody really likes or cares about the “weeds” you had to deal with along the way.
When I went outside recently after the gardener had left, I savored the smell of fresh-cut grass and noticed the neatness of the hedges he’d trimmed. When I walked along the little stone path out front; however, I noticed tiny green plants growing unbidden every few feet. Maybe located elsewhere they would be appreciated, even valued – but not here. So I spent about an hour pulling out these unwanted additions to my garden.
Your job as a leader and a speaker is to determine the value of your ideas and your experiences, and then to sort through what you’ve collected, deliberately cutting out “the weeds.” It’s probably one of the toughest and least glamorous parts of leadership communication, but the results you’ll get are well worth the effort.