I have certain expectations of individuals who have the audacity to describe themselves as leaders. One of the key expectations is that they be very effective communicators.
Effective communicators know that what they say matters little when compared to what was heard. They also know that what was heard matters even less when compared to what was understood.
The words you speak may be as elegant as Socrates’ and the words you write my flow like Mark Twain’s but none of it matters if your intended audience doesn’t understand what you’re saying.
As I travel around speaking about leadership virtually nothing causes more discussion than when I say that leaders are 100% responsible for how their “message” is received.
There will likely always be someone who just can’t accept or understand your message. But if you’re not willing to accept 100% responsibility for how and if your message is received then you’re going to have a whole lot of “someones” in your organization.
Here are what I believe to be just a few of the “keys” to effective communication.
Great communicators understand that words only create 7% of the impact they make when communicating, whether it be one on one or in front of a large audience. Voice tone – varying the volume, pace and pitch of their voice, punctuating the important words and pausing actually contribute 38%. And, body language, making decisive gestures, great eye contact and your energy make up a whopping 55% of how you impact and influence others.
Great communicators never talk “to” people, they talk “with” them. It makes no difference if you’re having a quiet coffee with an individual or speaking in front of thousands, you’ll never connect with someone by talking to them. If you’re going to talk with someone you had best keep in mind one of Dale Carnegie’s principles from “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” It’s the principle that says: Talk in terms of the other person’s interests. People tend to care a lot more about what you think when they first know that you care about what they think.
Great communicators have passion. They care about what they are saying and it shows. This is particularly important when speaking to groups. It is vital when attempting to motivate others. There is perhaps nothing more important in determining how your message will be received then whether or not it was presented with passion.
Authentic leaders invest the time to make certain their words will be heard as intended. They accept responsibility for the acceptance of their message. They know that once something is said it’s stays said so they are thoughtful in their choice of words.
Authentic leaders also write exactly as they speak. They don’t count their words, they weigh them. They never write ten words when their point can be made with nine. They don’t use big words to impress, they use the right words to inform and influence.
Here’s a question for all leaders to ponder: If nobody heard what you said was there really any point to saying it? Great communicators prepare to communicate well.