Most people would accept that one characteristic of a great leader, in any context, is the ability to communicate effectively, ‘one to one’, small teams or at ‘town hall’ scale …communication that will inspire and really engage others.
‘The ability to get others to do, what you want them to do, because they want to do it’….could be one interpretation of true leadership.
For such a critical area of capability, is enough focus and coaching expertise being devoted to helping aspiring leaders and well established / mature executives to be the best they can be?
From research and actual client experience, communications (crafted and executed with professionalism, creativity and impact) continues to be a critical/differentiating element of any successful Leader or Leadership team. Unfortunately, the misplaced assumption in many cases appears to be: that ‘what got them where they are today, has served them well…therefore why change’.
Although some business leaders would reluctantly admit this, the anticipation of having to speak in public is one of the most common fears (allegedly more so than death!) and prevents many leaders from achieving their objectives, or at best it slows the process down. This fear emanates from an inability to effectively communicate that message in a clear, concise and compelling way, with the right media; very rarely, does it come from not knowing what they actually want to say.
Having spent over 15 years working with CEO’s, CFO’s, MD’s, Sales Directors and others in key leadership roles, it concerns me how often leaders can embark on a communication journey that is destined to fail from the outset.
Successful communications (public speaking in particular) isn’t about how well you ‘feel’ it went, it’s about your audience. Do we actually know if they listened and remembered the key points? There are various techniques for gathering this insight, data that will prove either way…the message and delivery worked in the way it was intended.
Next time you have a presentation, start with the end in mind. What do you want your audience to think or do at the end of the presentation? Once you have a clear definition of the objective, work back to the key messaging and what information you need to communicate to achieve the goal. Remember that it’s about telling the audience what they need to hear, not everything you know on that subject!