I took Mr. Yanchus’s Public Speaking Class my junior year at Centennial High School. It was one of the best classes I ever took.
Everyday, Mr. Yanchus had one of his students lead the class in speech warm ups (deep breathing, tongue twisters, and more). He also had us lip sing, read children’s books, imitate being on the radio, and give speeches. As a reserved kid, everything we did was out of my comfort zone.
Nowadays, I really enjoy giving talks. There’s just something about needing to show up like that. It compares a bit to athletics. I like the preparation and performance aspects that go into it. And while I believe I can be a great communicator, I also recognize how much I need to improve in order to get there.
Last week, I gave a talk to a group of Christian business and community leaders. I invited Mr. Yanchus to attend because 1). I thought he’d enjoy the gathering, and 2): he’d be able to provide me with some beneficial feedback. (Heads up – be ready to be humbled when you ask a teacher or coach for feedback.)
I thought my speech went well. I shared some of my faith journey. It was genuine, and I believe impactful to those in attendance. Others commented to me that it was great!
But Mr. Yanchus…Yes, he did share some encouraging words. He also shared some pointed feedback. He coached me up on my pace and inflection. He talked about when I needed to slow down and how I can better emphasize key points. He showed me how I could improve my body language, use my hands and gestures to be more engaging, and how to connect better with attendees.
I didn’t enjoy hearing what I did poorly. It was even more unpleasant to watch my old teacher reenact some of the things I didn’t do well.
What I understand, however, is the criticism wasn’t ‘at me’ but ‘for me’. It wasn’t an attack to reject but a gift to receive.
Throughout my hoops career, I often wanted to reject my coach’s instruction. I didn’t want to hear it or accept it, so sometimes I missed out on the opportunity in it. Other times, I personalized the criticism as an attack on me as a person, and then I couldn’t apply it as intended.
Like anyone, I don’t like hearing or seeing my faults. Watching film after a bad game was never fun, and having a coach point out all your flaws made it feel worse. But it’s invaluable when we can receive coaching for the gift that it is.
Here’s a question I’m asking myself that you may want to consider as well — “Do I want to feel good or do I want to get good?”
Thanks to Mr. Yanchus for caring enough to give me critical feedback. Now (in order to get good), it’s time to repeat the process…