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Everybody who speaks (which is to say, everybody) has a gimme.

In golf, a gimme is a shot you don’t have to take—it just counts automatically. Golfers grant a gimme when one of them has a ball only a few inches from the hole. It would naturally go in with the next stroke, so the group agrees to save time by skipping that extra putt.

When I talk about your speaking gimme, I mean a skill or talent you don’t have to work at. It’s something you already naturally do or have. You don’t have to cultivate it or develop it; it’s already yours.

The trick is to count your gimme. Many of us overlook our natural abilities precisely because they’re so natural. We’ve been doing it our whole lives, whatever it is. We long ago stopped paying much attention to it.

I’m encouraging you to notice your natural ability, value it … and then make the most of it in every business presentation.

Examples, please.

Maybe you have long years of experience in your industry. You’ve been at it so long; you don’t think much about that anymore. The truth is that your depth of experience is something you can use to increase your credibility and authority. It gives you sway.

Or maybe, just by the luck of the genetic draw, you’re tall. Taller people are perceived as more powerful, intelligent, and charismatic. Yes, really. That probably explains why average salary increases with height.

Being attractive gives you a similar advantage. Silly as it sounds, we think of pretty people as nicer, smarter, and more accomplished than the rest of us. Research shows teachers favor attractive students if they don’t intentionally work against that impulse. And employers are more positive about good-looking professionals.

It’s no wonder audiences are drawn to speakers who look appealing!

If people are always telling you about your terrific sense of humor or the clever way you express yourself, that’s an asset that you should be taking advantage of every time you’re in front of a live or virtual audience.

Maybe you can draw – you ought to be using a white board or flip chart during presentations, or even sketching out your idea on a napkin during a business lunch. Your artistic ability will make your message memorable, and you will stand out from your competition.

When I was in a coaching program for professional speakers, one of the coaches commented on my voice: “You just open your mouth and people automatically pay attention to every word you say.”

Nice, right? Silly as it sounds, I can forget what a big deal that is when I’m speaking to a group. I take my voice for granted. (After all, I hear it all the time!) My mentor reminded me to value and make the best use of that natural talent.

What about you?

You should already be thinking about whether you’re making the most of your natural talents.

  • Are you giving yourself full credit for everything you bring to a presentation or a conversation?
  • Are you capitalizing on that special gift of yours to connect with an audience, make a strong impression, and get results?
  • Do you even know what that special gift of yours is?

If your answer is not a resounding “yes,” you’re not alone.

In presentation skills programs, when it comes time for feedback, I ask each speaker first to tell me what they think they did well. After that, the rest of us can weigh in.

Nine times out of ten, speakers begin with where they screwed up, what they should have said but didn’t, or the thing they wish they could take back. Sometimes it’s a challenge to get even one positive thing from their self-evaluation.

That’s why a big part of my work is helping my clients see what they already do well.

If you want to use speaking to grow your business, have more impact, and create real change for the people who matter to you … you need to know and appreciate your strengths. Then we can build on that foundation.

Of course, a person can always learn something new.

We can refine our language to better convey our meaning. For some of us, that might mean less language—the goal is to be more concise, so we don’t wander off the point and lose our listeners in the process. Or to pause more often to let our words sink in.

Some of us have physical skills to improve. Less nervous fiddling and more purposeful gestures, for instance. Standing confidently to command a room. Or making steady, direct eye contact to really connect with an audience.

And yes, some of us need to start from scratch to develop skills we don’t have yet. When I first started speaking to rooms of human beings instead of radio listeners driving home from work, I needed some serious practice with eye contact.

Whatever skills you need, though, being comfortable and confident in front of an audience (of any size) starts with using your gimme well.

So, tell me in a comment here, what’s your gimme? And how do you put your gimme to use when you talk about your business?