I will never forget the first time the teleprompter died when I was anchoring the news. There I was staring at frozen words on a screen. Nothing was moving…no words were coming and I had no idea how to save myself. All I knew is that someone was on the other end of the lens wondering why I wasn’t speaking. After the wave of nausea subsided…I looked at the paper script at my hands and I read. I never picked my head up…my eyes never left the page. I just read. Awful. Thank the Lord it was on only a 3 minute news break in between shows…but it was done. I had crashed and burned on live TV. I was never going to let it happen again.
Every day after the dreaded “incident” I didn’t just read my script…I made sure I knew the story. I made sure I wrote it…I understood…and I could tell it with no script at all. It was way back then (circa 1996?) that “C3” was born. On every script…on every reporter notebook for a live shot I wrote “C3”. It signaled to my brain that I was ready to go…that I knew what I was talking about and someone would want to listen.
“C3” stands for CONFIDENCE, CLARITY, CONNECT. “C3” on my paper meant I had done the work. Many times it was scribbled illegibly but I knew it was there and it has guided me through my broadcast career, my public relations career and my consulting career. I write it on the shower door in the steam some days when I am pitching a new client just to remind myself! So what the hell is “C3?”
Easier said than done right? To me confidence means you have the guts to get up there and take a shot. The courage to face the fear of the teleprompter stopping…and can still deliver the goods. Confidence doesn’t mean perfection. It means guts. I often think the word confidence can have a negative connotation when said. If you say you are a confident person…you can be misunderstood as being arrogant…snotty…or pretentious. That’s on the person who is on the other side of the conversation. It’s them not you. Confidence means you know your stuff…you have something to say and dammit the person on the other end better listen! Does it mean you absolutely nail it every single time? Nope. Some days confidence may be more abundant than others, but showing up with something to say and owning it? That is the first step.
Clarity in the physical sense means you are in the moment and your brain and your breath are aligned and all is good. Being “present” is hard. Looking at a room full of people and delivering a speech and staying focus is tough stuff for most people. What are they thinking? Is the coffee pot off? Do I have lipstick on my teeth? They think I am awful. It happens all the time…in business and in every day life. Remembering to breath and really doing it works. I always have clients take several deep breaths before and after we start working together. It seems so simple but we forget! It is crazy important to clear your head, unlock your shoulders, relax your eyebrows and go. Clarity also pertains to what you are saying. Having a clear, authentic message that is void of filler, nonsense and crap you don’t believe takes major work. Zeroing in on exactly what you are trying to say is key and takes work and practice.
Connecting with an audience is everything. Connecting with your eyes…your brain…and your heart. People connect with real. They connect with true. You don’t have to be a keynote speaker or quoted in the New York Times to have an important audience to connect with. Connecting means you have penetrated the layers we all need to jump through to have something you say matter, resonate, and be remembered. Whether it is a conversation with your teenager, your spouse or the board of directors…you have to connect to be heard. Connection starts with authenticity. Yes it is currently the most overused word out there but it’s true. Be you. Tell “you”…in your voice and people will connect with what you have to say. Also..know your audience. Who are you talking to and why do they care about what you have to say?
The three “C’s” all work together and compliment each other in so many important ways. Each person will find their own way to confidence, clarity and connection. It’s a unique path and is an ever growing skill set. For me it is an internal check list and a practice that has helped me in all areas of communication.
The next time you have something to say…take a breath and find the 3 “C’s” to success and growth!
By Kristen Daly