Public Speakers: Flash your Lt. Columbo Badge of Confusion

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

Here’s an idea to help you more fully connect with an audience and become even more persuasive.

       Oh yeah. I was prepared. Too prepared. Too sure of myself. Too proud. Too confident. Too bad.

Lt. Columbo in his iconic rumpled trench coat

      It was my first public speaking gig outside my company to a general audience (not my staff). And I made a big mistake. I thought the podium gave me a virtual license to act more like a preacher, more like a lecturer. After all, I was the expert. That’s why they invited me.

     My mistake. I later realized that I should have acted more like Lt. Columbo than Sgt. Joe Friday at the podium. I should have acted more like the disheveled and somewhat confused Lt. Columbo , the detective that actor Peter Falk made famous in the television series Columbo, rather than the stern, button downed, highly disciplined, no-nonsense, just-the-facts-man Sgt. Friday, the detective that Jack Webb made famous in the television series Dragnet.

      I gave this audience just the facts. I was self-assured. I called it confidence. Others I later learned called it cockiness. Anyway I realized only later what that bromide really means that says: No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.

      And no one likes a know-it-all. At least not initially. Behavioral research shows that an audience is likely to be persuaded more by someone they can identify with, someone who seems just like them, someone like Lt. Columbo  who personably camouflaged his professional prowess like a proverbial Ferrari engine hidden beneath the beaten and battered hood of the jalopy he drove. Lt. Columbo hid his  criminal investigative expertise beneath the rumpled trench coat he wore; behind the squint of confusion on his face, and deep within the halting hesitancy in his voice. Continue reading “Public Speakers: Flash your Lt. Columbo Badge of Confusion”

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