By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy
Here is an idea to help tune into your audience more directly.
It’s instructive to note that the accent falls on the U in the word communicate. That’s why the most effective leaders I know first make a You-turn INTO the audience long before directing their message TO the audience. These speaking leaders know they have to deliver the Audience to the speech long before delivering the Speech to the audience.
These speaking leaders know their audience is always tuned into the most listened to radio station in the world – WIIFM (What’s In IT for Me). That’s why they adopt a three step process in delivering the Audience to the speech.
They (1) tune into the same WIIFM station that the audience is listening to so that they can personally feel what the audience feels. They (2) weave those feelings – those threads of hope and despair—into a net of mutual understanding that surrounds the speaker and the audience. And they (3) tug ever so gently on that net of mutual understanding to pull the audience toward the speaker –and into—the message.
These speaking leaders heed the advice of Benjamin Disraeli, the former British Prime Minister, who said: “Talk to a man about himself and he will listen for hours. As speaking leaders, they transform the audience’s feelings into poignant words – words that prick the heart and soul of each person in the audience. Words that prick them personally. Words that prick them passionately. Words that prick them powerfully.
And in that pricking process, the audience and the speaker become one. They are woven together into the same net of pain and pleasure, frustration and fortune. One becoming the other.
In the pricking process, the speaker becomes the spindle from which the audience’s feelings unravel. In the pricking process, the speaker becomes the conduit from which the audience’s energy flows. In the pricking process, the speaker becomes, as former British Prime Minister William Gladstone once observed: able to perceive a vapor arising from the people, condense it and then pass it back to the audience. In a flood.
Caring Is The Most Important Trait of Any Leader
Parlaying the pricking process of turning a vapor of vision into the flood of feelings, speaking leaders provide the audience both affirmation and information. They show that they care personally, passionately and purposefully. They know that audience doesn’t care about how much the speaker knows until they know how much the speaker cares. In fact, caring is the most important trait of any leader, according to author John Keegan in his book “The Mask of Command.” Keegan ranks caring or kinship a more important leadership skill than: (2) knowing what to do; (3) rewarding behavior; (4) taking action or (5) providing example.
How do you establish this caring, this kinship? Make contact with your audience up close and personal. You don’t have to be as daring as the Hungarian pianist Franz Liszt. During a recital he would get up after playing two numbers and walk out in the audience, chat with a few people (weave his net) and then return to the piano to continue his recital.
But you do have to reach out and touch the audience. You do have to connect. You do have to make contact. You do have to embrace speaking as a contact sport as author Bert Decker says. How can you make even better contact as a speaker? How can you use your speaking skills to become an even more effective leader? CommUnicate.
Tune into the specific interests and concerns of your audience to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.
You might also like these previous Leadership Mints on Personal Communications:
Speaking Meanfully Without Words
SUBSCRIBE: Have a Leadership Mint delivered to your E-mail every business day. It’s free. Just click the SIGN ME UP box in the upper left column.