Commit To Be Great

By Monty Hagler

I recently traveled to Lambertville, New Jersey, for a two-day intensive presentation training workshop. When I first learned about the Heroic Public Speaking program, I was reluctant to commit to the class. After all, public speaking and presentations are a core component of my skill set. I competed in speech and debate competitions across the country in high school and college, have spoken at hundreds of conferences, seminars and college campuses and regularly present ideas for public relations campaigns.

But a good friend – whom I competed against more than 30 years ago in forensics – told me that I needed to make the time. “You’re very good,” she said. “But you can be great.”

Her comments reminded me of the seminal business book Good to Great. It takes vision, commitment and hard work to take performance to the next level. In my case, that started with acknowledging that my presentation skills can and should get better. So, I swallowed my pride and was richly rewarded for it.

Heroic Public Speaking was founded by Michael and Amy Port, who lead all of the sessions. They intensely believe a speech has the power to change the world and the people in it. The only other professional training I have done that compares to their level of excellence is the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As) week-long seminar for managing agencies. Michael and Amy are a dynamic duo who run a tight ship, impart valuable strategies and tips in every part of the program and challenge you to be great.

In addition to wanting to improve my skills for my role as CEO of RLF Communications, I am also working on an outline for a keynote speech. I’m interested in how we move forward as a society in which there is constant disagreement and disbelief over the most basic facts, statistics, data and science. My thesis is that we will be better served – as individuals and communities – if we focus less on getting people to agree with us and spend more time on awareness and acceptance of what motivates our actions and those of others. I call my keynote “Positive Friction,” and I now have a better sense of structure and techniques to move forward with it. I hope to find some conferences and venues to test it out in the second half of 2023 and 2024.

All of us have things at which we are good. Figure out what is important to you, what makes a difference in your life and the world, and then make a commitment to get better. Make a commitment to be great.