Monday, May 6, 2013

My personal outro

I always think about how I'm going to end a presentation before I start. I consider this my "outro". An outro serves a number of purposes:
  1. The outro helps you link your message of the day back to a higher message, hopefully your ethos and values.
  2. The outro, when repeated with an audience over multiple engagements, elevates this higher message in their minds.
  3. The outro gives you a closing point and helps avoid running on to a weak finish, it is an offramp.

In my Coast Guard leadership duties my outro emerged easily. "Be safe out there and look to the safety of your shipmates". What we do as Coast Guardsmen on the water, in the air and ashore is inherently risky.
My first concern is the safety of my crew. My "crew" can be a few when I'm leading a mission on the water as coxswain or hundreds in my senior leadership roles. We direct a great deal of institutional attention to identifying and managing risk. We manage risks with training and structured conversations about the dangers of what we do -- but we also want the perception of the risks and the understanding of our duty to each other as a top of mind outside of those structured conversations and training. There is also a few subtle calls to our Coast Guard core values in my outro. First, I'm addressing my audience as shipmates which has powerful resonance in our service. Second, I'm focusing my audience on others in our organization.

This outro works great with my internal audience but, surprisingly, it also works very well when I'm speaking to external audiences. Our primary mission as Coast Guard Auxiliarists is boating safety. With a new external audience I talk about our approach to risk when on duty and talk to them about the similar risks they face when working or playing on the water. By using my internal outro of "Be safe and look to the safety of your shipmates," I invite them into our community... a community of safe boaters.


Be safe out there and look to the safety of your shipmates.

Related link: In November 2012 I did a blog post and video as part of my Project Presence that talked about the importance of a strong outro when making leadership videos.

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