I’ve been excited about the new reality show, America’s Next Great Restaurant, since I first heard about it several weeks ago. First, I love Chipotle and one of the judges is Chipotle’s founder, Steve Ells, who is a very interesting guy. Second, I like that the judges are actually investing in the restaurant, so it’s not just about abusing and criticizing the contestants. The judges actually want to see them succeed.The pilot episode (which you can watch in its entirety here) aired a week or two ago, but I just got around to watching it this weekend.
In the first episode, 21 potential restaurateurs have to pitch their idea to the four judges/investors who then select only ten to proceed to the next level of competition. What a way to start! Over half the field eliminated solely on the basis of their ability to communicate.
This reinforces my message that presentation skills are crucial to nearly every walk of life. No matter your career choice, no major decision gets made in today’s world without a face-to-face conversation. No matter how great an idea you have or how good a chef you are, it all starts with your ability to communicate.
This first episode was a great study of the kinds of errors people commonly make when they’re not comfortable communicating.
One of the most noticeable mistakes made by a few of the contenders was that they couldn’t simplify their message. Maybe they had a good basic idea but they hadn’t spent the time to really think about it and distill it to its essence. Instead, they presented the judges with menus full of hundreds and hundreds of items. In their desire to show the judges all the possibilities, they instead demonstrated that they really didn’t know what direction they wanted to take. And this left the judges without a clear picture of what they’d be signing up for.
This is a common communication error that stems from not knowing what information is important. It’s ultimately a form of laziness in which we basically ask the audience to sort through our piles and piles of raw data. It’s essential when you get up to speak to know exactly what information is essential and what isn’t. Develop key messages you want your audience to take away. Then present those ideas in bite-size pieces.
In contrast, it was easy to tell which people knew their stuff and were passionate about their great ideas. They stood out from the crowd. Their confidence shone through and made their ideas all the more appealing. And their ideas were well-developed and easy to understand immediately.
These were the leaders. And when they took the stage, you sat up, listened, and were ready to follow. That comes only with practice. It’s not a born trait. Some are born with confidence but that needs to be refined into an appealing manner that draws people in. If you want to become a great leader, communication skills are a must. And the time to begin working on them is now, not two weeks before your big pitch.
What Do You Notice?
Watch the episode and make note of your feeling about each of the contestants. How does the way they present themselves make you feel? Would you invest in them? Why or why not?