One of the toughest things we ever have to do as humans is to see outside of our own perspectives.
Writer and professor Barbara Brown Taylor, uses the metaphor of a mosaic to help remind us of how individual and sometimes self-centered we truly are. She says that as we create our own versions of reality, we collect pieces from our families, our teachers, our friends, our favorite authors, and popular culture. And we arrange those selected pieces to form a picture of what is “true” or “real.” That’s our mosaic. But Brown Taylor reminds us that we mostly choose the pieces that support our view of reality or look the most like us. And we forget that our mosaics have our fingerprints all over them.
We know as public speakers and leaders and human beings we need to champion diversity of voice and of thought. But how do we get intentional about this? Here are two quick tips to help us step outside of our own mosaics.
It’s tough to see beyond our own skin, our own reality, our own perspective. But if we are to be great presenters, we have to learn to do so. We have to remind ourselves constantly that the people who are listening to our presentations have very different mosaics than we do. And we can’t expect them to hear our words through the lens of the pieces we’ve collected and glued together.
I teach at a Christian university. And I make the students in my Language and Social Interaction class read a text from an atheist. I hand them a very different mosaic to examine. One of the ways in which we can become better, more ethical, more responsible speakers is to listen, really listen, to people and ideas we don’t agree with. In doing so, we add pieces to our mosaics that don’t look like all the rest. And we reap the benefits of diversity which run the gamut from tangible, dramatic increases in revenue to less tangible, but equally important, leaps in innovation and communication.
Public speaking can overfeed your ego if you aren’t careful. The stage, the audience, the applause, the attention–all of it can be addictive. Forbes writer Nick Morgan says, “the secret to happiness in public speaking is to let go of your ego and realize that the presentation isn’t about you speaking. It’s about the audience hearing something. You’re in service to that audience and to the message. In the trio of speaker, message, and audience, you’re the least important part.”
One of the best ways to become a better speaker is to remind yourself often that your perspective is just that. It’s your perspective. It’s not shared by everyone else. You can’t encounter the world from any other viewpoint than your own. But you can enrich your experience and your sensitivity when you remind yourself that your fingerprints aren’t the only ones out there.
Creating our own mosaics isn’t bad or wrong, but forgetting we’ve constructed them, or assuming they are the same as everyone else’s is.
We all need help from others to step outside of our perspectives. We’d love to help give you constructive feedback on how to elevate your presentation design or delivery. Get in touch with us now.
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