Staying Grounded

May 25, 2022

The energy in the room is building. Those endorphins are flowing. Your words are resonating, and the audience is responding.

Congratulations!!! You’ve just caught that presentation wave. You’re in total flow and you can feel the momentum. Everything seems to be landing, except for the speech itself, because you want to stay up there, turbulence free, in rarefied air. What a trip!

You’re getting the laugh where you always get the laugh, which is nice, but expected. The unexpected is where you’re catching air today. That throw-away statement…that ad-lib remark…just landed and rocked the room. It catches you off-guard, but in a good way. This is good. This feels good. This is good. This is clearly one of those presentations, speeches, meetings, where you can’t miss. It’s on. Full throttle ahead!!!

The only maneuver left is to land the plane, but it feels so good to be in flight, particularly this flight. You concede to your better judgement (otherwise known as air traffic control) and you bring it home. You land the plane. What a flight. You’re greeted with acceptance, smiles, confirmation, cheers, and applause. When you come down and quickly greet the people, you hear statements like, “so good”, “great stuff”, “nailed it”, “you brought it”, “you were on fire”. You hear it all, and you take it all in…

…and then, slowly but surely, the reception fades, the engines cool down, the large or small crowd dissipates, and our biggest presentation/public speaking challenge is on the horizon. It’s not the preparation for the next speech. You seem to have that down. The challenge is to not let any of this reception get to our heads. To not let the audience’s approval drive us for more. To not let this powerful idolatry make us chase it again and again. To not fall in love with the feeling of it all.

So, how do we stay grounded during these powerful, emotional, exciting trips? It’s a different journey when the presentation doesn’t land so smoothly. I’ve been there before and I quickly assess the damage and quietly move on. But what about when we take flight and the ego and pride are full systems go? I struggle with this. It takes discipline, accountability and honest feedback. It takes surrounding ourselves with people who help us stay grounded. It takes maturity and wisdom. And most importantly, it takes a tank full of pure humility.

What has helped me on this journey – and I confess it’s a constant calibration check – is to establish some rules of the game to avoid getting caught up in the game. Let’s call this our “flight plan”:

1. Instead of speaking at the audience, let’s be intentional about sharing with them.

2. Instead of overwhelming the audience with information, let’s encourage them by providing tangible action steps.

3. Instead of worrying about what the audiences think of us, let’s focus on simply serving them.

4. Instead of seeking approval and applause, let’s all strive for results and sustained growth.

When we’re safe on the ground, we’ll realize it’s not about us and never should be. If we make it about us…if we make it about the applause…if we make it about the reception that follows, we are in for some serious rough air. But if we fall in love with honoring others, making a positive and lasting impact, and simply and consistently serving to the best of our abilities, it will be easier for presenters and the audience, for everyone in the room, for all of us, to take flight and stay grounded. All aboard.

Humility On. Service On. Game On

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