This month we are pleased to introduce what we hope will become a regular feature: a profile of one of our chapter members. In this edition, we profile Jim Endicott.
Jim runs Distinction Communication, a nationally recognized coaching and consulting service that specializes in presentation delivery skills training, strategic message development, and presentation design consulting. Jim is also a highly sought-after speaker and has been rated as an IABC International “all-star” speaker for over 10 years.
How did Distinction Communication come to be?
I launched my business in 1998. I came out of the high tech and computer graphics industry and was a monthly columnist for Presentations magazine at the time. During all those years, I noticed that most presenters focused on the giving part of the presentation. Consequently, people became preoccupied with things like the latest presentation software, the brightest projectors or the best image libraries to raise their game.
At Distinction, we take a more systemic look at the art of communicating. Is the message shaped in a way that resonates with their audience’s needs and issues? Do their visuals actually accelerate the understanding of an idea? And most importantly, does the flesh and blood communicator drive the message deep into the hearts and minds of his or her audience with some well-honed skills or are they just going through old, rote habits of delivery?
We work with our clients to make sure that their voices are the ones that stand out at the end of the day.
You’ve seen a lot of changes in technology and how people communicate over the years. What have been the biggest changes in the way that people present ideas or information?
Projectors are smaller and brighter. People can present from iPads and smartphones. Web resources can be accessed wirelessly on the fly. But presenters themselves have changed very little. Many still experience a fair amount of anxiety about presenting. And while very few are really terrible presenters, far too many are simply average and their important messages get lost in a sea of competing voices.
What are the most common obstacles or blocks that prevent people from being better communicators?
The challenge is typically about how people prepare. Presenters spend the bulk of their time preparing the what part of the presentation – what are they going to say or what will their PowerPoint look like. However, when we ask them how they want to be perceived, they use words like “confident,” “engaging,” “passionate,” “credible.” These are not what words; these are how words and are a direct reflection of a presenter’s personal toolkit of delivery skills. Unfortunately, these critical skills are too seldom honed in a meaningful way.
What topic are you most often asked to talk about when you are invited to be a speaker?
Probably the most requested topic these days is around the art (and science) of leadership communication. We all know senior leaders who are smart, seasoned industry experts who nonetheless struggle to inspire, challenge or motivate their audience. These days we simply expect our leaders to do more than just inform us. Corporate communications people are constantly on the lookout for resources that can help them help their leaders lead more effectively.
And finally, what role do you think IABC plays for professional communicators in their professional and personal development?
IABC is a wonderful resource for the professional communicator. I’ve attended many international IABC conferences and there is something for everyone. Being heard above a sea of competing voices is no easy task these days. IABC provides communication professionals with important tools and resources to help them be that voice that is heard above the rest, both internally and externally.