- Lives Values
- Empowers Others
- Asks for feedback, ideas, comments
- Directs the Course
- Effectively Communicates
Question: What if a leader is a fantastic public speaker i.e. great energy, tone and everything is engaging in the presentation but the message itself is really not of great interest? Is how the message delivered more important than the real message itself?
Today I drove into work knowing that I had a great learning opportunity waiting for me. A few of us were going to deliver our 2012 results at our quarterly staff meeting. I went into this meeting with a true intentionality to listen and see if I could gain some insight into our various communication techniques…were there particular ways of delivering our messages that were more effective than others? What did I learn? I learned something that I think most of us know: post-lunch is one of the most difficult times to hold a meeting…energy level is a bit subdued to say the least!
It was interesting to see the variety of our styles showing up in our PowerPoint presentations. There were slides with bullet points, slides with lots of facts, slides with humorous clip art, slides with more refined clip art and slides with columns. Some of us were relaxed, some of us felt a little rushed, some of us “forgot what we were saying” , some of us used humor, some of us stood still and some of us talked with our hands. Did any particular style of expression and communication elicit a (presumed) better response than the others? To be honest, I am not sure. The crowd was attentive through all the presentations; if the leader clapped, the crowd clapped loudly and if the leader used humor, the crowd would laugh.
There are many ways we can communicate by using verbal skills, body language, pictures and writing. I happen to love to write and I think I am a fairly decent writer despite the fact that I have not taken any formal writing classes since college (and at the age of 54, that was a few years ago). I really enjoy writing this blog, letters and business communications. Yep, the written word has been and always will be a great thing for me. For others, speaking is their great passion. I happen to think there is not anything better than listening to someone who is extremely articulate, has a very skillful command of words and is quick-witted.
One thing I have learned over the years about my own personal style is that as someone with a bit of (or as my hubby would probably say “a lot” of) an expressive personality, I tend to think out loud. When I come out in my full expressive mode and I am communicating with someone who may be more an internal processor of information (i.e. analytic style), I can sometimes tip someone over the edge and overwhelm with my exuberant style (yes, it has happened once or twice in my life…). I have had a few people (who I am extremely grateful for) share with me that I can be “intimidating” when my passion comes through if I am speaking about something that is very important to me because I get more animated and my voice gets louder. Intimidating is not a real positive trait in my book and it bothers me greatly (actually saddens is a good term) to think that people may be put off by my communication style because I am a strong relationship-oriented person.
What have I done to try to improve my communication? I reflect on all of my important communications. I read and re-read emails that are in response to something I feel strongly about before I push the send key. I prepare some notes ahead of time if I am going into a crucial conversation to make sure that I am communicating the key points and not getting side-tracked by my tendency to think out loud.
Another great tool that I started using last year is my LiveScribe pen and paper. I began using this device due to having some nerve damage in my right (dominant) hand making it a problem for me to hold a pen to write. This thing is the best thing since sliced bread and I have gotten so much more than what I bargained for with this little gadget! I not only have the ability to take notes but it allows me to record my conversations (with the other party’s permission). I listen to my communication all the time now, especially when I am in conversations that I feel I may have come across too strongly in my tone. I listen intently to not only what I have said but how I said it…a very powerful way to create awareness and facilitate change if needed.
Great leaders effectively communicate providing clarification and direction. They answer the questions: What do you expect of me? What can I expect from you? How am I going to know that I am doing okay? How am I going to know that I am not doing okay? Do you have my back? Do I have yours?
What are some of your most effective communication techniques?
Who are some examples of some great leaders where you were immediately at the edge of your seat , anxious to hear what they had to say… wanting to sign up and team up as soon as you heard their message?