You Don’t Have to Be a “10” at Public Speaking

Everybody doesn’t need to be equally good at everything. For some tasks and skills, having a basic competence is sufficient—let’s call that a 6. For other skills, where we really make our money and show our value, we need to be a 10.

I don’t need to be good at accounting because i have a bookkeeper who is an absolute genius at that. She’s a 10. That’s what people hire her to do. It’s her unique area of value. I do need to have basic math and organizational skills in order to run my business, but no one would, or should, pay me money to do it for them. I’m a 6 (maybe a 5 if I’m being honest).

As long as I’m being honest, how about this: not everyone needs to be a 10 at public speaking. For many people in many fields, they need to be a 10 at something completely different, say fighting fires or counseling or teaching kindergarten. 

Instead of everyone trying to get to some kind of TED Talk-induced ideal of what a 10 in public speaking is, what if we adjust the scale? What if a 10 for our firefighters/counselors/teachers is more like a solid 6? Sort of like my bookkeeping skills?

A 6 doesn’t mean we phone it in, wing it, or think “this isn’t part of my job.” 

A solid 6 means we worked on it. We put real effort into something that doesn’t come easily. We thought about how to communicate as clearly as we can and with as much impact as possible. We respect time limits, pay attention to details, and practice. We remember that the speech is for the audience, and we do our best to make it worth their while.

If we do all that, the 6 becomes our 10. It represents the best we have to offer in our specific circumstances, without letting ourselves off the hook.

Own the places in your life where being a 6 is good enough, so you can focus more of your time and energy on the areas where it’s important to be a 10.

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