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Time Efficient Personal Development

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We all know that I have a propensity to be somewhat straightforward. Blunt perhaps. Politically incorrect. Periodically rude (according to some). An unfair assessment I say but…

Oh well. I'll cope. Sometimes straightforward is exactly what's needed. Less fluff. Less talking in circles. Less vague… more specific. Less mystery. More honesty. There's a concept.

We can dance around it — or we can call it as it is.

"Err, yes Mrs Smith… well… the test results are back and surprisingly, your child is not big-boned — he actually comes under the clinical classification of… really fat! Huge, even."

"Mrs Smith… Mrs Smith… where are you going?"

"And by the way, no, it's not puppy fat; we checked. It's person fat."

"Mrs Smith, don't throw that table! You'll dislocate something…"

So last night I had to speak at a fundraising dinner. Hundreds of people, big auditorium, six speakers(!), me, the last on stage and a whole twelve minutes to speak. Can you imagine me speaking for twelve minutes? I've never done a twelve-minute presentation in my life. It takes me longer than that to order my lunch. Most of my presentations and workshops last for somewhere between one and eight hours.

As I was driving to the venue, I was wondering how the hell I could have any significant (lasting) impact on a group of people, talking for such a short period of time, and as I'm all about being a catalyst for change and making a difference, I thought I may have to skip a few of the normal, feel-good preliminaries. Okay, all of them. Might have to jump straight into the good stuff and see what happens. So I took to the stage for my twelve minutes of power.

It was the end of the night (a week night obviously), people were tired, it was late, they had already heard five other speakers and endured one of those fabulous charity auctions, and it's fair to say that they probably weren't on the edge of their seats with excitement as the ex-fat kid strode to the podium. I was the only speaker with no notes, no Powerpoint presentation, no impressive visual aids, no handouts — no anything.

Just twelve minutes of me. Giddy-up.

For seven hundred and twenty seconds I told everyone in the room exactly why we're such a fat, unhealthy, disorganised, dissatisfied collective of people. I took two breaths for the whole presentation. I was like Jacques Costeau without the flippers.

I spoke about the psychology of getting in shape (and staying that way); specifically about procrastination, attitude, blame, excuses, avoidance, personal responsibility, honesty and decision making — not a bad effort for twelve minutes. And I didn't hold back.

As this strategic (but entertaining) tirade was coming out of my mouth, I scanned the room. I saw a mixture of laughter, fear, confusion, interest, amusement and revelation. Nice mix. While some of them probably hated my guts, the majority of the feedback I received was overwhelmingly positive. Nice. Surprising even.

So I guess I learned three key things:

1. I don't need to talk for so long.

2. I need to be a lot more offensive; clearly I'm too polite.

3. If you make people laugh, you can smash 'em over the head with some brutal truth while they're catching their breath.

Okay, I'm off to work on my new highly-offensive, five-minute, life-changing workshop. Time-efficient personal development at its best.

I wonder how much I could charge for that?

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About Craig Harper