As a boomer, I have to admit I have always had a bit of a challenge working with Millennials (aged 18-32). The sense of entitlement and the “participation awards” growing up didn’t seem to fit in a competitive business environment. At a recent CEO event, that perception was changed. The keynote speaker, Ryan Avery, won the World Championship of Public Speaking in 2012 at the age of 25 (youngest ever). At age 29 he’s now a sought after speaker who focuses not only on communicating with millennials (getting the next generation to buy), but also selling through storytelling, and going from A to THE leader (or dentist, office manager, hygienist, mom/dad).

Over the 4 hour presentation, I wrote furiously and ended up with 7 pages of notes – a new record! Like many of you, the role of leader, salesperson, and speaker came with the title of entrepreneur. 24+ years of owning a business – and a big learning curve – have required an ongoing commitment to learning. My public speaking, though better, is still riddled with uncomfortable pauses, and when viewed on video makes me cringe. The main thing I’ve learned is that public speaking is a learned skill and requires a development strategy.

When listening to a speaker like Ryan (or any gifted speaker), what immediately comes to mind is “what a natural” this speaker is. While that may be partially true, the delivery, cadence, order, and messages are carefully planned. I’m not saying we all should have a 20-minute speech and soapbox ready at all times, but here are some of the most relevant take-aways that you can use in staff meetings, patient conversations, and community presentations:

  • The better the communicator you are, the better the leader you’ll be.
  • Add value in the first 60 seconds of any presentation or story.
  • A leader will retell the story. THE leader will relive it.
  • Always ask yourself four questions: (1) Why am I having this conversation, (2) What is the one outcome I want, (3) What one thing do I want to drive home, (4) How much time do I have to deliver the message.
  • Don’t be the hero of your own stories
  • Always have 2 facts and 2 quotes about your industry at all times.
  • You are THE leader when your actions inspire others to take action.
  • A leader knows family is important. THE leader shows family is important.
  • Humanize yourself before you professionalize yourself.

I’ve heard dozens of speakers over the years, but Ryan’s speech really inspired me to take action on honing my public speaking skills, storytelling, and my perception of millennials. The impact of working on these strategies can have a significant influence on your business as well. Translating effort into bottom line results is an inevitable byproduct.

In my next blog, I’m going to focus on motivating millennials. In the next five years, this generation may make up 50% of your patients and employees. Communicating with them in a way to keep them motivated and engaged about your practice requires some adjustments, but they may become your best patients (and team) ever.