Speaking as a Leader will show you how to influence and inspire others every time you speak. It provides a single, comprehensive approach that will help you lead in every communication, from formal speeches and presentations, to phone calls, meetings, Q&As and elevator conversations.Too often, communications situations represent lost opportunities to lead. Messages are confused, audiences are bored or overwhelmed by a flood of information, and the speaker fails to elicit action. When people fail to communicate, they fail to lead.
In Speaking as a Leader, world renowned executive coach Judith Humphrey addresses this problem and puts communication squarely at the center of leadership. In today’s flattened organizations, leadership opportunities exist in every interaction and for individuals at every level. For a leader, the mike is always on.
Speaking as a Leader will help readers meet the enormous challenge of engaging, energizing and motivating others day in and day out. It will help you unlock your leadership potential every time you communicate, and turn your listeners into followers and believers.Humphrey offers a powerful approach to move you from information to inspiration.
Here are some highlights from the book:
If you internalize the idea that speaking as a leader is an ever-present responsibility you have to your stakeholders, you will infuse all your speaking with the quality of leadership. Whether you are answering a question, commenting on a project, presenting a strategic plan, selling to a customer or simply taking a group of people through a solution to a problem, your intention must be to inspire and move others to believe and act on that belief.
But how do you speak as a leader in all situations? This book presents a systematic approach called The Leadership Model. It is scalable: it works equally for a town hall event as for a brief elevator conversation. It will unlock your leadership potential every time you communicate. The Leadership Model has four steps:
- Think like a leader. This first step is mental preparation.
- Create a leader’s script. The script structures your ideas and influences the audience’s thinking.
- Use the language of leadership. The best leaders are conscious of the language they use, and deliberately choose words that have the power to influence and inspire.
- Achieve a leader’s presence. A leader, like a good actor, brings a script to life through energy, eye contact, gestures and voice.
The four steps of The Leadership Model provide a powerful template. They will help turn your listeners into followers.
Organizations still do have tops and bottoms. But leaders at all levels must be willing to influence others, even those they don’t have authority over. The old structures, where a few at the top had access to all pertinent information and issued orders through a command- and-control structure, are gone. Regardless of your place in the hierarchy, you have a responsibility to lead. But leading takes a different shape depending on whether you are speaking to those who report to you, your peers or someone more senior than you.
- Leading from Above. The best bosses provide a vision that helps direct their company, division or area. They convey that vision by persuasion, not by preemptive commands. And when forming their views and guiding their employees, they listen carefully. They welcome suggestions, encourage frank conversations and are open to constructive challenges to their views.
- Leading from the Side. In today’s flatter organizations you’ll often find that you have to lead your peers, clients or suppliers. The first rule in this situation is to abandon the “us and them” mentality. Another good guideline: Try to see yourself through the other person’s eyes.
- Lead from Below. How do you best lead from below? 1) Be political. Practice speaking to your superiors with confidence, but with respect. 2) Be direct. Executives don’t want you to beat around the bush.3) Be bold. It may mean speaking up more frequently at a meeting of senior colleagues, initiating a one-on-one discussion or seizing the chances to lead from below when the opportunity strikes
Listening is a prerequisite to motivational leadership, and successful listening connects you with your audience on three levels — the physical, mental and emotional.Good listening involves keeping your audience in mind all the time. The best actors accomplish this by listening to their audience while performing. Christopher Newton, former artistic director of the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada, once told an audience of after-dinner guests: “The actor divides his head — one side inside the part, the other focused on the audience.” You can be a committed listener if you engage in such active listening on three levels: physical, mental and emotional. Only by working with these three approaches will you fully come to understand the views of your audience and, more broadly, individuals in your organization.
- Listen Physically. This first level of listening requires that you create physical openness. To begin with, make sure the space between you and your audience is an open physical environment. Good posture is another way you show you are listening.
- Listen Mentally. As Ernest Hemingway wrote: “When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” So listen closely to the ideas and concerns of your audience.
- Listen Emotionally. This is the highest level of listening because it involves empathy, caring and a desire to give support. Helen Keller learned that “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen nor even touched, but just felt in the heart.” Emotional listening involves a range of qualities: politeness, political intelligence, an awareness of verbal and nonverbal cues, and a willingness to make the exchange enjoyable.
The Leader’s Script is a template The Humphrey Group has created for designing your remarks — whether you are speaking for 30 minutes or 30 seconds. This single model works when giving a formal speech or a presentation, responding to questions, speaking on the phone or having a brief conversation with a colleague. By using this template you will always be “on message,” and will influence and inspire others.Let’s look at the three parts of this scripting template.They are the Introduction, Body and Conclusion.
- The Introduction. A good introduction draws the audience in and aligns them with your thinking.The Introduction has four components: the grabber, the subject, the message and a structural statement.
- The Body. The body of your script contains the arguments that develop your main message and should be organized in a clear structure.
- The Conclusion. Your script ends with a Conclusion, which contains two elements: the restated message and the call to action.
The Leader’s Script is a template that ensures you will lead whenever you speak .The Leader’s Script has a beginning, middle and end.After your script’s Introduction comes the Body, or middle.
The Body of your talk should do one thing: Prove your message. If you fail to structure your talk effectively, your audience will be unconvinced or bored, or will simply wonder what you are talking about. The well-crafted message statement you began with will be left high and dry. Unfortunately, poorly structured talks are all too common.
Organizing your talk is not difficult if you put the effort into building a sound structure. Here are five guidelines to help you get the structure right.
1. Present arguments, not topics. The Body of The Leader’s Script should provide arguments that prove your message. No one will be convinced by a structure that simply lists topics. Make sure that each of your main points in the Body is a complete sentence and presents a sound argument in support of your main idea.
2. Bring your arguments together in a recognizable pattern. When you create an effective argument, you build a case where each of the sup- porting points ties back to the message.
3. Think of your structure as scalable. It’s vital to have a sense of structure that allows you to expand and contract the length of your remarks depending on the opportunity. Knowing what your key proof points are enables you to deliver the body of your talk whether you have 30 min- utes or 30 seconds.
4. Write down your structure — or in impromptu speaking, work it out mentally. Whether you are delivering a formal speech or speaking from notes, map out your structure.
5. Lead into the body with a structural statement. Audiences want to listen, but they need your help! To guide them through your structure, give them a road map at the outset. The last sentence of your Introduction should be a structural statement that lets your listeners know what route you (and they) will be taking through the Body of your script
Even the best script won’t persuade listeners without clear, forceful language: the language of leadership.How can you make sure your audience understands you? Follow these guidelines:
1. Think before you speak. Clarity comes from putting in those hours preparing for a speech, or simply pausing to collect your thoughts before answering a challenging question or speaking up at a meeting.
2. Always be “on message.” The best speakers are always on message, and they back up their contentions with strong supporting arguments. The guidelines for message and structure are important not only for the overall shape of your talk, but also for your paragraphs and sentences. Clarity involves more than simply choosing the right words. The clearest speakers stay on message and present evidence in a well-structured manner.
3. Be precise.Precision is crucial to achieving clarity. It means being exact about expressing your ideas.
4. Be succinct. Clarity also involves expressing your ideas succinctly. Some speakers think that extra words make their arguments clearer. Remember, inside every fat sentence is a thin sentence dying to get out!
5. Make your language appropriate for your audience. Speaking with clarity requires that you have a keen sense of audience. Speakers who know their audience and assess their listeners’ level of expertise can pitch their comments accordingly.
6. Avoid jargon.Jargon is the bane of business,government and professional organizations. It consists of lazy language, inflated terminology and phrases that get repeated so often that they lose their meaning.
The best leaders establish warm ties with their audience. They get personal. The better the relationship you create, whether you’re speaking to 1,000 people or to one person, the more likely you are to persuade. One of the keys to strengthening those ties is using “I,” “you” and “we.” Let’s look at how you can do so.
- Put yourself into your remarks using “I.”Using “I” shows your personal convictions. For example, you might say “I want to talk to you about,” “I believe” or “I’m convinced.” “I” can be a powerful means of letting your colleagues, customers and staff get to know you as a leader. Just make sure that you use it with that goal in mind.
- Use “you” to engage your audience. Speakers need to refer to their audience as directly as possible. In all forms of communication, keep a “you” focus and reach out to your audience.
- Use “we” to create a connection with your audience. Used effectively, “we” brings the speaker together with the audience.You can build rapport and a common bond when you use “we.” For example, when you are talking to an employee, you can incorporate “we” into the discussion by saying, “We both want this to work,” or “We are both committed to seeing this project through.”
The most effective leaders make full use of the power of the English language. They lift up their audience with eloquence. Such language is more memorable. It influences listeners, commands their attention and encourages them to act. While rhetoric, which is a key to eloquence, may sound forbidding, it’s not. It can be as simple as a metaphor or the use of repetition.
If you want to lead and inspire others, avoid language that weakens your ideas. Watch out for the following “credibility killers” that could create tentativeness in your speeches, presentations and conversations.
1. Avoid prefatory qualifiers. Starting sentences with qualifying expressions can undermine your leadership. Avoid, “It’s only my opinion,” “Just a thought,” “I’m not sure” or “I don’t have all the answers, but ...” If you suggest to the audience that they know what you are about to say, they won’t bother listening to you.
2. Eliminate mincing modifiers. Don’t undercut your comments with modifiers that reduce the impact of what you’re saying. Avoid “I’ll probably want you to spend some extra time on this project,” or “Hopefully we’ll get to the root of this,” or “I just want to say,” or “Maybe my call to action should be” or “I’m quite satisfied.”
3. Watch for wiggle words. Avoid words like “probably,” “likely,” “roughly,” “primarily,” “basically,” “pretty,” “sort of,” “some” and “quite.”
4. Avoid filler expressions. Make sure you don’t fill your pauses with words like “um,” “ah,” “you know,” “to be honest” and “like.”
5. Delete weak verbs. Phrases such as “I think,” “I presume,” “I suppose,” “I’d guess” and “I’ll try” lessen other people’s confidence in what you
6. Don’t over-apologize. Too often people apologize when there is no need to. Don’t start a phone call with “I’m sorry to trouble you about this matter ...” Don’t apologize in meetings when you offer a comment.
7. Don’t self-correct. Learn to speak with straight- forward, declaratory sentences. Don’t trip over yourself to correct your words.
8. Don’t diminish your power at the end of sentences. Often people end thoughts with “et cetera” or “and that kind of thing,” because their minds are racing on to their next thought.
When you speak as a leader, you must energize your audience and motivate them to act upon your ideas. Your vision, script and language are only important insofar as they can be brought to life for an audience. To energize your listeners, find the power in your script and then convey it to them. Bring your script to life for your listeners. Your job as a speaker is to interpret your text for your audience. If you treat every word in the script as equally important, you’ll sound monotone and your audience will retain little of what you’ve said. Instead, bring to life the important elements of your script.
Wherever you are, whatever the occasion, whomever you are talking to, you have a leadership opportunity. The call to action is that you internalize this mission:I will work to influence and inspire every audience — large or small.To achieve this goal you’ll want to master the four broad steps to develop a leader’s mindset, script yourself as a leader, use the language of leadership and achieve a leader’s presence. But that is only the beginning.
- Large and Small Stages. You are always on stage. Every talk, presentation, email and voice mail is a chance to lead.
- The Mike Is Always On. There are many situations where leaders feel they are offstage, but they aren’t. Look around. You have an audience when- ever people are present. These “stages” can be offices, restaurants and golf courses.
- Every Situation Is a Leadership Moment.Recognize every situation is an opportunity to lead and inspire others with your convictions.