Tuesday, November 11, 2014

What's cookin'?

"Why do I need a coach to learn how to speak in public? I have been talking almost my whole life." To answer this question I often use a cooking analogy: Early in life you learn what sounds to make, and later what words to use to get what you need. Survival communications. Some people never need to learn more. But if you find yourself pursuing a career where "excellent oral communications" are required, or just want to make yourself heard above life's everyday static, you will need to work harder at it. That's where expert advice comes in, whether it is reading books or articles, watching webinars, or working with a communications coach. Each level of learning brings you closer to development of your own solid speaking technique.

So with cooking. Most of us learn survival cooking skills fairly early in life: scrambled eggs, mac 'n cheese, pb & j. But at some point we need to step up our game--to impress someone, to rescue ourselves from boredom, to cut down on take-out and restaurant costs. And so we read a cookbook and watch some cooking shows. Those of us who really want or need to excel study with the experts.

Every Saturday one of my delights is listening to The Splendid Table, a radio show from American Public Media, hosted by cooking expert and food journalist Lynne Rosetto Kasper. Lynne has a great way of making absolutely every dish she describes on the show sound mouth-wateringly delicious. And "doable." When she broadcasts interviews with guests, she has them break down complicated recipes and explain the culinary process, demystifying cuisine that might seem complicated. Even an elaborate Tourbot soufleé . She also gives a lot of really solid cooking advice to listeners who call in.

Saturday before last a caller said he wanted to become a better cook. He had trouble following recipes, and wanted some hints on other ways to improve. Lynne urged him to step away from the individual recipes, and really understand the underlying technique used in creating the dish. "Don't learn recipes, learn technique," she said. "You are more in control when you know the how and the why of what you are doing."

Back to my analogy: I work with clients to discover techniques that work for each of them. While these are similar, they vary from person to person. Much as cooking will vary according to pans used, oven temperature, quality of ingredients, etc. But when you break everything down and come to an understanding of how things work, you are able to develop a solid technique. Which you can then apply to many different situations. For example, once you have mastered a basic bechamel sauce, you can make dozens of French and Italian sauces. Once you know how to embody and embrace your own authentic presence, you have the ability to speak successfully anywhere, any time!

And doesn't that sound delicious?

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