Transparency brings with it valuable rewards.
Lucia took this photo that illustrates my theory about transparency. A photo of clear, lucid water is flowing under shadows. The water, except for a slight blue-green tint and a small distorting ripple, is utterly transparent. We see every rock it is rolling over, from boulders and tiny pebbles. The shadows cast by the bridge and the people on it, including Lucia, are not quite opaque. You can see through them to the rocks and water below. The effect of this is that they are very nearly one with the water.
As a presenter, it is valuable to be as transparent as the river. Why? Because unlike the magician who says, “You can see I have nothing up my sleeves,” you want to bring nothing but your story to the room. You know full well the magician has many things up his sleeves and in his pockets and hat. But you use no magic tricks. Just plain truth delivered as clearly as possible. Transparency.
The first and most important reason for transparency is trust. Regardless whether you are selling a product or an idea, you’ll make no progress until you’ve earned your audience’s trust. That comes most quickly when it is clear you have no hidden agenda and no trickery planned. In other words, if you say you are giving away something for free, don’t slide a payment into the mix. I’ve been fooled by a speaker who promised A and delivered B. As a result I’ve become a skeptic and you probably are, too. And while there are not many who would believe that the emperor has splendid clothes if he is naked, there are still emperors who will test you to see just what you are willing to believe. A better approach is to wear your clothes and prove to your audience that you are what they see.
Second, you need your audience not only to see who you are, but that you can and have walked the walk before you talk the talk. Transparency is a great way to prove that you are what you say you are and that you’ve done what it took for you to become who you are. In other words, if you say you are a professional bull rider, you’d better have the bruises to prove it. A question I’m often asked is, “how do you find your audience’s pain?” One certain way is to have lived with it yourself and found a way out of the pain they feel. With transparency your audience will see that you understand them because you have lived in the place they are in now. Knowing that, they can believe what you have to say. Your reality is their reality.
Third, if you are asking your audience to make a difficult change or undertake something risky, you’d better have done it first and have proof of that. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a man who quite literally practiced what he preached. It wasn’t just that he’d read the Bible. He walked the road to Selma. He sat in a southern jail cell for what he believed was right. He was completely transparent. And those who wanted what he believed in, knew that about him. Those who believed in him, followed him.
Transparency like a clear flowing river is a good thing to keep in mind when you plan how to approach your next presentation.
58/ of 365 Lucia’s #photoaday
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