Leadership for Life – Let’s Talk

By on March 3, 2014
Leadership for Life - Let’s Talk

Our Leadership experts will be sharing tips and insights for everyone, at any station in life, at both home and work. Leadership for Life – the skills you embrace represent who you really are at all times.

Great leaders are good at getting people to do what the leader wants them to. Depending on your leadership style, you can order people to do things, you can persuade them to do things, or you can hope they’ll come around to your preferences because they’re smart enough to figure out why you’re right.

By now, I expect that most leaders know that simply giving orders isn’t the most effective way to lead in the long run. Well, maybe it works for Vladmir Putin, but not for most leaders in the US. If you let people come around on their own time, you might get what you want, but the timing could be seriously off. What a leader really needs to know how to do is persuade people to see his/her point of view and follow through in a timely manner.

As with any behavior, persuasion can be learned and practiced. The more practice you get, the better you’ll be. Enter Dr. Rob Portnoy, who runs an organization called Executive Communications Training Company, Inc. (www.excotraining.com). I was privileged to hear his presentation on Speech Coaching Guidelines at a recent meeting of ASTD (American Society of Training and Development).

When you get in front of a group of any size, from a small meeting to an auditorium full of people, you need to provide your listeners first with value. Why should they spend their valuable time listening to you? A good speaker knows that s/he has to put forth the value proposition early in the presentation, maybe even in the first couple of minutes. Portnoy points out that listeners will be asking themselves …

  • Why should I listen to you in the first place?
  • Why should I keep listening?
  • What do you want me to remember?
  • What do you want me to do?

With respect to speaking skills and technique, you need to use your voice as a tool by varying the loudness, tone, rate, etc. You also need to use eye contact, gestures, and effective visual aids. And speaking of visual aids, spare your audience the toil of plodding through a sea of small text on a slide. If you use slides, charts, or other visuals, they should be big enough for people in the back of the room to see them clearly, and their content should be limited to a single bit of data or point of interest. You’ve heard the expression, “A picture is worth a thousand words”? When it comes to visual aids – it’s absolutely true.

Another important and effective speaking skill is story telling. Sure, you want to provide examples of ideas or how things work, and nothing compels a listener more than a well told story. A good story engages the listener and helps to make a point in dazzling fashion.

There are many other skills involved in being a persuasive and compelling speaker. We’d be glad for the opportunity to persuade you to take one of our classes in Presentation Skills. Call or write bschapiro@stlcc.edu or 314-539-5329.

About Barry Schapiro

Barry is the Workforce Solutions Group Practice Leader for Leadership and Professional Development. His experience includes delivery and management of business training in a variety of industries, with specialties in leadership, team development, generational diversity, and customer service. Twitter

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