Connection Not Perfection

By December 18, 2019Leadership, Preaching

From an early age I learned I enjoyed public speaking.

I don’t remember the first time I stood in front of a group and gave a presentation. It might have been “show and tell” in kindergarten. As a kid growing up in a local church, it could have been reading scripture or praying during midweek services. During my teen years, I began participating on the speech team in high school and delivered my first sermon on a Sunday evening.

Over the years, I’ve tried to be diligent about honing my craft.  As a communicator, I realize I haven’t communicated if all I have done is transmit information. When the audience understands the information and knows how to apply it … then I’ve communicated.

Just recently, I was reading an excellent blog post by Stephanie Scotti, author of Talk on Water. In it she writes about foundational beliefs every effective communicator must have. One of those is this: “Your audience wants connection, not perfection.”

Connection, not perfection.

Thanks to good coaching and access to great books on communicating, I was able to get over my need for perfection years ago. I’m comfortable with flubs, misspeaks, and hard-to-pronounce words that get muffled (and even those easy-to-pronounce words that get muffled, too).

When I step out on stage, you’re getting Ken … the same Ken that shows up in Starbucks or at a Rockies baseball game. It’s the same Ken that listens to Lyle Lovett and enjoys any movie with Will Farrell.

What you won’t get is Billy Graham, Joel Osteen, T.D. Jakes, Simon Sinek, Steve Jobs, or anyone else not named Ken Hensley.

If I want the audience to be comfortable with me, I need to be comfortable with myself. If I’m uncomfortable, trying to be something that I’m not, the audience will sense the tension even if they can’t quite put their finger on it.

Taking the “connection, not perfection” approach is actually quite liberating. It frees you up to be fully yourself, fully present, fully engaged. Since I’m not worried about whether I’m sounding like T.D. Jakes or smiling like Joel Osteen, I can devote that mental energy to communicating more effectively.

What’s true between the speaker and audience is also true in many other relationships.

Which do you think my wife prefers? A perfect husband – which both of us know is impossible. Or, a connected husband who pays attention and is willing to share struggles as well as victories?

Do my children need a perfect dad or a connected dad?

Business leaders, are you self-imposing an unrealistic pressure to be the perfect leader? Is this keeping you from developing stronger ties with your team?

Connection, not perfection. You should try it!

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  • 25+ years of senior leadership experience
  • masters in management and leadership
  • presenter at the WFX National Conference
  • former president, Church Planters of the Rockies
  • helped start 2 for-profit tech companies

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