Unfortunately, not every successful leader is a strong communicator. It is a mystery to me how someone can lead well, but speak in public poorly, but it happens all the time.
Recently I listened to two speakers, both successful leaders, who made these four common mistakes:
- Sharing too much information. We are all tempted to believe that we can wow an audience with our shear wealth of knowledge. But we can only absorb so much information before we tune out due to overload. Remember to keep your ideas succinct and few.
- Not telling a good story. A great presentation is a blend of information and story – one without the other compromises the effectiveness of a speech. A good story is more than just telling us your history or the history of your organization. A good story involves characters, a little background, setting, dialogue, conflict, a twist, a happy ending, etc. Never underestimate the power of a good story.
- Failing to speak with passion.I used to make this mistake as a preacher when I first started preaching – I’d give a bunch of background info with any excitement and then I’d finally warm up to the good nuggets of content towards the end. Why waste everyone’s time on the boring stuff? Why not get right to the good stuff as quickly as possible and speak from our hearts and with passion? Both these speakers started getting a little more excited towards the very end of their speeches – oh, if they had only started there and talked from their heart!
- Not interacting with the audience. We had two hours with these accomplished leaders and part of it was for Q & A. There was 7 minutes left when it was handed over for Q & A. SEVEN MINUTES out of 120! Ouch! I know the audience would have loved to have been reached out to and included in the presentation. Why not interact with the audience and ask them questions? This endears a speaker to the audience every time it is done right. And the audience may want to hear about something you didn’t think they wanted to hear about – a chance for another story!
I’m guessing that if we master these four areas as speakers, doors will open for us in leadership as well.
Go get ‘em!