Communicating with Authenticity, Purpose and Engagement
Your ability to communicate with confidence, influence and inspire others is key to your success as a leader. Being able to speak effectively as a leader elevates your own personal success and that of your organisation.
Leaders are the ones who set the direction for their team, build a vision for the future and drive innovation. Therefore, if you want to be a great leader, you need to be an excellent communicator.
Here are three areas worth focusing on if you wish to elevate your mark as a remarkable speaker:
- Be Authentic
Public speaking reflects who you are. Whether you are speaking to your team at your departmental meeting, speaking to your entire workforce at an organisational gathering or addressing an audience at a special event, what your listeners want is the real you. Attempting to look and sound sensational will probably translate itself as being somewhat artificial. What listeners truly want to know is you and to connect with the real you. Whatever your topic is, what your audience really want is to see attributes in you that go far beyond content. So, let your true self come through for your own sake and that of your listeners.
In order to for your listeners to open up to your influence you first need to earn their trust. Honesty and integrity play a key role here. Audiences are much more willing to follow the lead of a speaker who walks the talk.
- Define your specific purpose
Public speaking and presentations are not merely about delivering information. Instead, it is more about influencing an audience positively. It is not enough to just give your audience information on your topic. Think in terms of the thoughts, feelings and actions you are seeking to evoke in your listeners. The more specific you are in terms of identifying the concrete actions that you are aiming at, the higher your chances of succeeding.
Know your audience’s needs. Ordinary speakers deliver information; successful leaders combine information with the needs and desires of their listeners. Every true leader knows that the desire to lead is the desire to serve.
So instead of getting lost in your content, think of the main thought that you want to leave your listeners with. What action do you want them to take after you finish speaking? Be clear on your purpose.
- Engage in a Dialogue with your Listeners
A speech or presentation might seem like a one-way street: you send, your audience receives, and that’s it. Yet, an effective speech goes far beyond that. A dynamic talk is like an interchange where information passes back and forth continuously. Even if most of that information is being shared by you, a good talk involves an exchange of information and sensory input. In that sense, every good speech is more of a dialogue than a monologue. It stands to reason that as a speaker you need to pay attention to the nonverbal communication that’s coming your way. Watch your listeners’ reactions. If they appear confused or uninterested, you may have to repeat a key item, state something in a different way, or think of a metaphor to illustrate your point.
Seek to adopt a conversational tone in your speech, even in your most formal presentations. Here’s a good way to achieve a conversational dynamic in your speaking ability: Imagine, even in front of a large audience, that you’re having a conversation with your circle of friends. Allow your voice and your mannerisms to take on the authenticity that is the real you and your audience will trust you more.
Build in Engagement. Essential information will never reach home if your audience is disengaged, bored or zoned out during your performance. Think specifically of how you will get the audience engaged as early as possible and keep them in that frame of mind.
To Speak to Lead, Serve Your Audience
Avoid getting too lost and intimate with your topic at the expense of your leaving audiences starved for affection.
Being a great speaker is not about trying to be perfect – instead it is about sharing the values, ideas, and vision with your audience in a way that gets them motivated to follow your lead.
Ask yourself, are the people you spoke to better in some way because of your efforts? Focus on your desire to serve others to become the speaker you wish to be.
So if you accept the challenge of speaking for leadership, from now on think in terms of your public speaking persona: authentic, clear on your message, engaged in a dialogue with your listeners, serving your audience.
Considering that every aspect of leadership encompasses public speaking, if you aspire to become a leader, working on enhancing your public speaking skills is a good place to start.
Michelle Fenech Seguna is the Director of Speak to Move, a company offering professional training programmes that enable participants to communicate confidently and present powerfully in business and social situations.
The upcoming Masterful Public Speaking workshop will take place on the 12, 13th and 17th of February 2020 at The Westin Dragonara Resort, Malta. You can reach Michelle Fenech Seguna on firstname.lastname@example.org