When it comes to public speaking, having a host mindset is essential by Roz Usheroff

 . . . his short and simple definition of a lady or a gentleman is, someone who always tries to make sure the people around him or her are as comfortable as possible.

I was reminded of the above definition of a lady or a gentleman last week when I read the news of how Google’s Senior Strategist Scott Jenson walked out of a conference before delivering his keynote because he thought that the audience for his presentation was too small.

Of course rather than focus on what Mr. Jenson should or should not have done, both before he left and then afterwards in response to the public outrage over his actions, I thought that it would be a much better idea to share my own experiences as a speaker.

To start, and having traveled the world over many times, it is safe to say that I have had the privilege to address audiences of all sizes.  Whether it be delivering a keynote address, giving a seminar or making an appearance at a book signing, the attitude that I have always maintained is one of gratitude.

Does this mean that there have not been times in which I was disappointed?  Absolutely not.

In fact, I can remember years back when I was attending my first book launch.  Eight people showed up at the Borders store; one guy in the front row was reading about Voodoo, another about medicine and the treatment of diseases and another was emailing while I was talking.

This is hardly the warm and enthusiastic embrace an author would hope for or want, especially for their first book.  However I believed that the “show must go on” and focused my attention on the people who were there to meet me and hear what I had to say.  In other words, my role was that of a host in that I was there for them and their benefit rather than being there for myself.  This is part of what I call the host mindset.

Of course the host mindset is not only applicable to public speaking.  It also applies to your relationship with clients, co-workers and in general your role as an employee regardless of your position or responsibilities.

This doesn’t mean that you assume a subservient position or perceive yourself to be less than those around you.  What it does mean is that you have the confidence to look beyond yourself to seek ways to add value to the people with whom you come in contact.  Specifically, you are considering their comfort in the context of why they have taken the time to be with you and seek your input.  It is really nothing more complex than understanding and addressing their needs in much the same way that a good host will tend to the needs of his or her guests.

And Ladies and Gentlemen, this is what I believe is the key point that we can all take away from what happened at the conference last week.

happy audience

It’s all in the way you view your audience . . .


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4 responses to “When it comes to public speaking, having a host mindset is essential by Roz Usheroff”

  1. meredithanderson2014 says :

    I agree whole heartedly with you Roz. I find the circumstances you conveyed to be disappointing at best. This was a prime example of “pride going before the fall.” The ego was in control and conducted the action that resulted. It does not matter how big or small your audience is “the show must go on”. When you have the opportunity to speak with to an audience, adjustments may have to be made. Circumstances change, things happen. Plans are etched in stone. The old adage is true, “you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. The best possible advertising is “word of mouth” with social media, even though the audience was small, Had the opportunity been seized with enthusiasm, the benefits would have been numerous in terms of the exposure of positive feed back. It is my opinion this was a definitely a missed opportunity to fully connect with ones audience with more intimacy.

    • rozcoach says :

      Thanks so much for your perspective. I believe I am always learning and never assume I have all the answers. Sometimes we are challenged beyond our comfort zone. It’s essential to know that, regardless of the reception, you have a message that deserves to be shared. Hopefully your message will resonate with a few who are genuinely appreciative of the value you bring.

  2. Dessureault-Hatmaker, Violette says :

    This is probably the single most important thing I learned from your Executive Leadership session in Montreal with SAP: Host mindset.
    Thank you, Roz, this makes a big difference.

    Kind regards —

    Violette Dessureault
    Sales Communications / Proposal Manager | Sales Communications | Value and Solution Engineering Canada
    SAP Canada | Montreal Labs | 111 Duke Street, Suite 9000, Montreal, Quebec H3C 2M1
    Office: (514) 228-2174
    Mobile: (438) 401-6209


    • rozcoach says :

      Violette, thanks so much for your reply. I am so glad that “host behavior” resonated with you.

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