Be a Better Speaker, Be a Better Leader

Most of us have had bosses at one time or another who ascended the ladder because they had strong technical skills – they may have been great at finance, operations, or sales. But then when they got to the top job, they struggled; as the saying goes, what got you here will not get you there. Being a leader is different from being really good at the jobs that help you climb the corporate ladder.

There are many things that go into being a good leader but communication is perhaps the most important. A leader has to be able to communicate their vision to the team in a way that makes sense to and inspires the team.

While there are many ways a leader communicates – small group meetings, memos to the staff, conversations at the water cooler – being able to stand in front of the troops and deliver a message is critically important. This is much easier said than done – the overwhelming majority of people in business have a hard time standing in front of a room full of people and delivering a presentation.

Here are five things great speakers do that aspiring leaders should consider:

  1. They know the context. There’s nothing worse than an all-hands meeting in which an executive doesn’t understand how the staff feels. For instance, if there have been recent layoffs and the staff is worried, a leader can’t ignore that fact and claim that everything is rosy. A leader must understand the employees’ emotional state when addressing the team.
  2. They know themselves. If you’re a quiet, soft-spoken person, you can’t all of a sudden put on a loud, over-the-top performance. It won’t ring true to your team.
  3. They are optimistic. The best speakers offer solutions, even in the face of daunting challenges. Even in difficult times, a leader must show the team a future filled with possibility, rather than focusing on what can go wrong. Of course, they must be grounded in reality – being optimistic is not merely about saying positive things; it’s about rolling up your sleeves and making positive things happen.
  4. They make important points more than once. Key messages must be repeated over the course of weeks and months. Saying something important one time will get lost in the fog of your staff’s daily routine.
  5. They tell great stories. Often, people in business shy away from telling stories; it seems “soft.” However, science tells us that stories have the power to get the neurons in our brains firing. That’s why we remember stories and forget statistics. Great speakers focus on stories.

In business, the leader does not have to be a fire-and-brimstone, podium-thumping inspirational leader. But they do have to be able to stand in front of the team and deliver the right message at the right time.

Contact us at 215.441.4600 or Email if you have questions or would like to discuss how this topic may impact your business.

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