Martin Luther King is known as the greatest orator in modern times– a man whose words and style created profound social change. Though few of us will transform society, we can elevate our professional world through the way we speak.
Here are three lessons:
- Your words have power: MLK taught us that a leader must have a theme that s/he states frequently. The four words “I have a dream” were powerful because they were chanted repeatedly and succinctly expressed MLK’s vision of a more just world. “I have a dream my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!”
- Take a stand: Leaders need courage to say what they mean and mean what they say. As a communication coach, I have found that the most respected leaders take a stance, with diplomacy and strength. Dr. King stated: “There comes a time when one must take the position that is neither safe nor political nor popular, but he must do it because his conscience tells him it is right.
- Find your Voice: MLK’s voice was resonant and lyrical, with a poetic rhythm and passion felt through each phrase. Each leader needs to find his/her unique style. My team and I have observed many kinds of speaking styles among effective leaders. Whether reserved, impassioned, sonorous or subtle, the lesson from Dr. King rings clear:
“The time is always right to do what is right.”
As coaches, we sometimes have clients with big egos and high opinions of themselves—in short, real Type A personalities. Sometimes they have trouble getting their ideas across to others or connecting with audiences. This is confusing for them (they are, after all, subject-matter experts), as having hard-charging personalities has helped them be successful and often sought-after speakers. They ask: What’s not working here? Why do some audiences tune me out? Why do I get the cold shoulder?
It could be several things, but one thing often overlooked by coaches and those they coach is the absence of humility and gratitude. Recently, a very senior executive and I had a breakthrough. Like that old song says, try a little tenderness. As a speaker, this client came off as a real smarty pants; he was flippant, arrogant, and it was easy not to like him. Being vertically challenged may have played a role here; he always had to be better to compensate for his lack of physical stature, or so he thought. As his coach, just as a good chef adds certain ingredients, we added certain amounts of humility and gratitude as themes in the early part of his talks and revisited those themes at the end of his speech.
But how does one pull this off? He began by saying how proud he was to be on such a diverse and talented team. He felt honored to be a senior leader, and on a personal note, he acknowledged how grateful he was to have been chosen years ago to have a role in the organization. Further, he was appreciative of the lifestyle his position afforded his young family. All these ideas, said before he got to the “business” of his talk, went a long way toward presenting him as a real person to his colleagues and peers. He already had a vast reputation as a huge moneymaker; some even called him “The Machine” as he made money like crazy year after year. In his closing, he revisited the themes, saying, “I am very lucky to be here with you and thank all of you for the roles you play to help me, us, and our investors.” Of course, these words must be delivered with genuine warmth and sincerity or they will be meaningless.
By adding a touch of humility and gratitude, he changed many people’s perceptions of him and convinced them that, indeed, he was a real person who was finally showing a more human side. The feedback he started getting was very positive; there was much more interaction and discussion during Q&A time. It all came from small changes that allowed him to be seen in a different light. Warming up to people was not the big challenge he had been avoiding, and it paid nice dividends as a speaker. Coaches and speakers should try it!
This past year has been filled with loads of change. We have rapidly learned how to channel our energies to get our work done. There has been a lot of focus on doing, producing, participating, fulfilling deadlines, and creating content. The communication part of our work streams is still being fine-tuned. As a communication coach, I frequently tell clients that the capacity to maintain and establish trustworthy relationships is the key to success during this unique hybrid time. Raising self-awareness about the fact that many people have become multitaskers. So, it’s vital to realize that distraction is just a click away.
One of the techniques we know makes a difference is active listening. Trusting relationships have a strong current of listening and feedback. Here’s an article about six methods to confidently demonstrate mindful listening and show you are present and involved in your interactions. As you read through, choose two that you can implement into your work interactions in the next 2 days. Creating a culture of communication in this new normal is how we navigate and continue to speak and listen with confidence.
15 Nov Affect and Technology
Affect relates to the presentation’s general impression, the feeling it evokes. It’s like overhearing loud voices in the next room or getting “an impression” of what is happening. Affect refers to the openness, tension or mood of the experience. It is primarily intangible but a genuine and crucial part of communication.
The Technology of Communication refers to the specific procedure used to accomplish the presentation. What type of organization should be used? What vocabulary or jargon is appropriate? What persuasive approaches should be used? If it’s a team presentation, who should speak first? Is s/he an eloquent speaker? Technology carefully analyzes the specific skills required for effective communication. Do I have clear speech? Is my voice confident? Are my nerves under control?
A successful business presentation is directly related to the accuracy with which you prepare for both the Affect and the Technology inherent in the experience. Unfortunately, many “presenters” focus exclusively on their preparation and comfort level. In reality, the Affect and Technology required by the listener are equally important. A highly effective speaker is attentively conscious of the “listeners'” wants and expectations. The concept of Affect and Technology provides a viable way to analyze the overall experience critically.
Being able to communicate assertively and confidently helps people succeed in business and personal relationships. It begins with a mindset and requires attention to non-verbal communication and delivery style. This recorded webinar will introduce you to the best practices for both and provide valuable, life-long communication skills.
Communication excellence, the ability to speak clearly and convey ideas with impact, is highly associated with career and organizational success.
Yet, healthcare and technology leaders face a major challenge: how to simplify complex and technical information so that others “get it”, buy in, and take action for best results. (more…)
With large numbers of employees working remotely, managers are grappling with a set of challenges in communication, motivation, and employee engagement to continue leading effectively.
Watch our recorded webinar and you will learn:
– The key challenges to remote work
– Five important skills for effective remote collaboration
– How to motivate and engage employees
This is a unique opportunity to fine-tune your communication skills. You will learn proven strategies you can put to use immediately with any remote employee or team to keep them focused and productive.
Telehealth is here to stay! Eighty percent of patients had positive experiences during the pandemic, and the same number wish to continue their telehealth sessions when meeting in person is not necessary for treatment, or as an adjunct to in person visits.
No matter what the medium though, patients and clients judge healthcare providers on two dimensions:
1) Professional knowledge and expertise; and 2) Communication/relationship skills.
Research show that effective communication skills are correlated with patient satisfaction, and that poor bedside/webside manner is the most frequent complaint of dissatisfied patients.
Our 30-minute recorded webinar Speaking Business English Clearly will help non-native English speakers be heard.
English is the international language of business. This can be especially challenging for people whose native language is not English. This complimentary recorded webinar will introduce the most important elements of being able to speak English clearly.
3 Oct I, um, ah, what?!?
Watch our 30-minute recorded webinar: Thinking on Your Feet
This informative, practical webinar teaches you how to process and organize your thoughts quickly in a way that will help you communicate clearly and with confidence.