The Event of a Lifetime


Bestselling author Donald Miller keynoted a four-day seminar in Nashville last fall where he evaluated business owners’ websites. For the thick skinned, it offered a chance for expert, personalized feedback.

He began by addressing “the curse of knowledge,” a common mistake business owner’s make when they assume prospective customers know more about their business than they actually do. “We’re talking over their heads,” Miller said. “We’re not speaking to their actual needs.”

“If people can’t describe what you do in a short sentence,” he added, “you’re probably losing business to someone else, even if they’re an inferior company.”

Soon it was time for his first guinea pig: Victoria Clausen, the owner of a D.C.-based special-event company known for its flower designs.

Miller began by assessing her website’s homepage. The primary text, laid over a picture of an elaborately decorated table, consisted of four large words: “Victoria Clausen floral designs.”

“No offense,” he said, “I’m sure you’re a wonderful person, but I don’t know who Victoria Clausen is. But there she is. And then ‘floral events.’ So floral events are events that are put on for flowers? It’s where flowers get together and have events together…”

Miller was being facetious, of course, but demonstrating how a casual visitor could interpret these choice words. Once clarified that Clausen designs special events, Miller pressed a step farther.

“That’s what you sell: You sell a beautiful event. But I’m not looking for just a beautiful event. I’m looking for a beautiful event that impresses my friends. …What’s in it for me? Everybody will be impressed. It’ll be the event of the season. What you’re offering me if you say ‘the event of the season’ is an identity. Something that I want that’s even more powerful than a beautiful event is I want to be the kind of person that is known for having a beautiful event.”

It was a razor-sharp, lickety-split assessment, and Clausen went on to take his advice. The primary text on the homepage of her high-traffic site now reads: “Let’s design the event of a lifetime.”

This story resonates with me because it reflects the work we do at Dardis Communications: to help others “speak as well as you think.”

Clausen was already doing excellent work; she simply lacked the language to effectively convey it. Similarly, our clients come to us with a solid body of knowledge. What they need is a little training and guidance to better articulate it. Our coaching brings their message to the forefront, making visible expertise that had been hidden.

There is a considerable confidence boost that comes with refining your public-speaking skills. It helps you articulate and own your professional achievements.

Clausen found the confidence to describe her capacity: to “design the event of a lifetime.”

Likewise, after receiving Dardis executive training, our clients are equipped to make the presentation of a lifetime. They have all the tricks and tips to speak like never before.

This certainly comes in handy for the big talks in boardrooms and ballrooms, but it enhances all the communication you are engage with on a daily basis – in cafeterias and cubicles, in elevators and emails. It feels good to know that, at any given moment, you’re putting your best foot forward because you have been trained to speak as well as you think.

It can be difficult to pause the demands of daily work in order to undergo self-improvement –a public-speaking seminar or a wardrobe consult. But in relatively little time, you wind up with a huge pay-off: allowing others to see the talent that was always there. You too can “speak as well as you think”!

Greg Dardis is the CEO of Dardis Communications, based in Coralville. For more information, visit