Serve Powerfully as you Sell from the Stage – Learn to Pivot
When I was in high school I thought of myself as a female Kareem Abdul Jabar (formerly of the LA Lakers) except instead of serving as the center, I served in the forward position on my high school basketball team.
For any non b-ball readers, that means I played the down low post on defense (protecting the basket) and on offense I was typically positioned in a similar area but not right under the basket (depending on the design of the play) which required that I take a lot of short shots close to the basket — similar to the picture at the top!
The position of forward isn’t nearly as flashy or well known as some of the other positions on the court. For example, the point guard who brings the ball down court and sets up the play (when on offense), or the center who is typically quite tall and protects the middle of the lane (when on defense). However, in my role as a forward I was frequently called on to do a simple but powerful move that was absolutely central to our overall chances of winning the game. I had to pivot… a lot.
To pivot means: a person, thing, or factor that causes something to rotate, revolve, or turn
I haven’t played basketball in years, but I still pivot… a lot. Every time I speak I focus on two things:
1. Serving the community with high value training, motivation or transformational content
2. Strategically pivoting to make an offer that will help the community overcome something that’s preventing them from achieving one or more of their goals
Learning to pivot really really well is one of the most valuable game changing skills any speaker can learn to master. As the definition above points out to pivot causes things to rotate, turn or what I like to call shift the focus in the room.
The number one discomfort many speakers have is selling from the front of the room or some people call it making an offer. No matter what phrase you use, it still means that at some point people are going to trade their hard earned money for a product or service you’ve created. That moment makes many speakers uncomfortable and they end up doing one of tow things:
1. They simply don’t do it
2. They do it so poorly they underserve the audience and leave money on the table (neither is a good thing)
So, why must you pivot?
In addition to playing basketball, I was also a coach for a few years at my local Boys and Girls Club. (I won two back to back championships, if I may toot my own horn!)
When in practice you drill the basics each time because you want them to become and stay second nature once you’re in the actual game. I would introduce the basics drills sequentially because there was a method to the madness. Each step had to build on the subsequent one. One of the drills I had my players do a whole heck of a lot was the pivot drill. The players would come to a jump stop, keep one foot planted and then turn by picking up one foot, which caused them to go in another direction and receive the ball with ease because the pivot effortlessly changed the direction of things. We did this over and over again to the point the players would be almost sick of it.
The magic effect of the pivot…
However, when it came time for a game we used the magic of the pivot as a strategic move to effortlessly shift a moment in our favor (on both offense and defense). When we used the pivot effectively we made more baskets on offense and had much better defense which prevented the opposing team from maximizing their A game! The result — we won far more games than we lost.
As a speaker you will serve your audience far better when you strategically pivot in your conversation and let them know what you’ve created for them to help them do what they’ve been called to do to make a meaningful contribution in the world. To not tell them doesn’t make you a better non-salesy speaker, it actually makes you a weak servant leader because you’ve just left your audience alone in the dark to find their way out of their challenge or struggle on their own. You might feel good, but they sure don’t.
Here’s the thing, when a basketball player is tentative when they pivot it never works out the way its supposed to. Its ineffective and offers the opposing team a chance to quickly adjust. The pivot must be decisively executed or the opposing player will see it coming and regain control of the moment.
As a speaker, you should plan your pivot. That way you do it with ease and grace and everybody gets served!
I suppose now when people ask me how did my team and I win all those basketball games I can say “It was all in the pivot!”
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