Now, in the midst of this pandemic, if you need to adjust your business narrative, how should you do that? If your business is to continue, your constituents need to know that your company is still strong and has been able to adapt to changing times. Here is food for thought and some direction for your consideration as you address this issue.
Begin by understanding that framing the story is essential. You should always answer three questions as you build your narrative:
- Where are your listeners/constituents naturally on the topic that you need to address?
- Where do you need them to be to consider the value of your message?
- What story, information, etc. can you use at the beginning, and throughout your narrative to facilitate that?
Take the time to answer these simple questions, and you will be in a significantly better position to effectively and strategically address the important issues in your narrative. These answers will also help support your need to motivate, influence, and lead in this unprecedented time.
Think bigger. As a communication coach, I tell my clients all the time “I’m going to tell you something important: it’s not about you.”
It’s about your listener. How one successfully reaches a communication goal is by thinking about what tools will help you effectively get your message across. That means choosing the method that best resonates with your listener. Ask yourself “What tools will help us get from here to there?”
How often do you think about how you’re perceived as a communicator? What’s the impression you want people to have of you after they hear you speak? The ability to control the impression you make on others is a crucial tool to have in today’s fast-paced world.
One client with whom I’m working just moved into the President & CEO role. My job as his speech coach begins with the question, “What two words would you like others to use to describe you after they hear you speak in a business situation?”(more…)
To be a hi-impact leader in today’s financial healthcare industry requires confidence and grit. How do you hold your own in situations where there are clearly power politics? Financial folks are now more involved in giving presentations, speaking at meetings to clinicians, senior management, and colleagues. And it isn’t enough just to report the numbers and finances accurately, it’s equally important to communicate a high level of competence and confidence.
In meetings today, getting talk time can be a challenge. Often there are levels of seniority and cultures that do not promote just anyone jumping in to speak. So when you speak, you must make sure you make a comment that will have some teeth in it. One that will resonate with the rest of the team and ideally one that will leave them feeling you contributed something of value. After all, you are at the meeting for a reason: what you think and contribute is valued by your colleagues.
I coach my clients to answer the following question: “What does it mean to be a high level communicator?”
Here are the three key aspects: (more…)
In this day and age, we each have the ability to shape and direct our communication to create a “personal brand.” Communication-style coaching is the path to creating the way you want others to think of you. I help executives do this by choosing the “style words” that define their own personal style, something that they can vary depending on the listener.
Ideally I recommend choosing two words. The first is a word from a business perspective: smart, knowledgeable, intelligent, credible, authoritative. The second word is a behavioral or “human” word: friendly, approachable, personable, engaging, dynamic, charismatic. Sometimes, we suggest a third word: confident.
For communication-style coaching to be successful, it’s important to choose style words that you believe in, and are comfortable for you.
“With respect to style words, the one that has resonated with me the most over the years is ‘approachable’. That might not sound like much, but the distinction between being ‘friendly’ and being ‘approachable’, to me at any rate, is that when you’re approachable, you’ve (internally, at least) established a level of seniority/accomplishment – you’re happy to share your knowledge/wisdom/what have you, but not just because you’re a nice person. I think about that mostly from the everyday communication. I really encourage junior people to participate on panels, etc., whenever possible, even if it’s not a marquee event, to get that practice, so when the big moments come, you are better prepared.“ – Managing Director, National hedge fund
I always remind my clients that “everything communicates”. How you appear in that moment, and sound in that moment to your listener, send a message about you.
The ability to be natural, who you are, and authentic, this is most people’s goal. I believe a great way to reach that goal is to: strengthen your ability to control the impression you make on others. Perception is reality…. At least for the moment you are communicating it.
So the question is how does one control this in a world where so many things feel beyond our control?
Get ready- because taking your communication effectiveness to its next level is a 3 Level process.
Level one: Self-awareness. What is the current message you are sending? How are you projecting confidence and what may be taking away from that? Often my clients will say, “ I don’t like the sound of my voice” or “I never watch myself on video”. If you don’t hear it or see it, how can you know what is working? Level one for many is the hardest part. Be brave.
Try this: Turn your video on your phone and deliver a message to yourself, maybe it’s a quick business update or a voice message you’re about to leave. Watch it back. Grab a piece of paper and draw a line down the center. (more…)
28 Mar Creating Muscle Memory
When I work with clients on strengthening their communication effectiveness, I’m often asked, “How can I make these new tools come more naturally?”
I assure them that when they carve out time to practice they are creating ‘muscle memory’. Muscle memory is something we often take for granted, yet it’s there and if harnessed, we can use it anytime to project confidence in doing any task. Obvious examples include putting your car key into the ignition, zipping a jacket, brushing our teeth. Any habit repeated dozens or hundreds of times creates muscle memory.
This muscle memory comes in a 3 part process: Level 1 is self awareness: “What am I doing that is working well and what areas do I need to develop?” This is often the most challenging part of a learning process. If unsure, ask people you trust what they feel you do well and could strengthen. (more…)
In his TED talk, The Hidden Power of Smiling, Ron Gutman provides some insights into the proven value of smiling.
We are born smiling. Using 3D ultrasound, we can see developing babies smile in the womb. When born, they continue to smile. A smile is one of the most basic expressions of all humans and it is the fastest way to build trust and rapport during face-to-face interactions.
OK, so why doesn’t Bill Belichick smile? What would he be revealing? Especially with the Media, he knows how to be brief, be good, be gone. Yet he almost never seems happy. I believe this is his strategy. In fact, one study tracked him smiling only 7 times in 114 minutes of media footage!
“Even the simulation of an emotion tends to arouse it in our minds.” (more…)
19 Dec Are You a Fast Talker?
æHave people ever said to you “Hey slow down, you talk too fast!” Wonder what they are referring to? Being from the Northeast, we hear this comment quite often. When thinking about controlling your communication style, it’s helpful to peel back one more layer and look at what makes up someone’s speed of speaking.
As a Speaker Coach, I break speed into two categories: rate and pace. Rate refers to the speed in which a person puts words together. It literally refers to the amount of words per minute. The average rate of speech in a business presentation will range from 150-180 words per minute. Think about listening to a commercial and often, at the end there is a voice quickly giving you all the fine print details at a rate you can hardly follow. They are speaking at approximately 300 words per minute. Much too fast for the average listener! (more…)