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Leaders can't succeed if they aren't good communicators - and more often than not, leaders don't even know that their communication skills need polishing. After all, who's going to tell them?
In many cases, the skills that get leaders to the top of their business or organisation are not sufficient to do the work at that level. The higher one goes in a company, the more success is measured in winning hearts and minds rather than in the mastery of some technical skill.
It isn't that their core disciplines don't matter, they do. They're what's minimally necessary to do the job. But they're not enough to hold on to the job.
Leaders need to be good at interpersonal verbal engagement - one-on-one and large group, in person and at a distance. A leader is judged based on three fundamental public leadership attributes:
1. The leader's bearing: how the leader carries himself or, herself.
2. The manner in which the leader engages with others.
3. The words the leader uses to engage others.
Being effective in engaging audiences requires one additional element: an understanding of what audiences are capable of, and ways to break through the barriers and connect powerfully with an audience.
An audience's first impression is visual.
The body speaks long before the mouth ever opens. Before the speaker even opens his or her mouth, the audience is making judgments. And once the speaker begins, the visual drives an audience's attention. Does the speaker look confident? At ease? Distracted? Scared? Angry? Mean? These visual cues are nonverbal, but powerful.
Non-verbal cues sabotage a speaker and immediately diminish the speaker's effectiveness.
Audiences need the executive to gesture. Recent research into cognitive psychology and neuroscience points to a connection between seeing someone gesture and hearing that person speak.
Audiences retain more when the speaker gestures. Because they are accustomed to seeing speakers in ordinary circumstances gesture while speaking, audiences are habituated to viewing the entire package - voice, gesture and content - when they listen. And the gesture helps facilitate understanding. Audiences particularly pay attention when voice, gesture and content are aligned.
The more a speaker gestures, the more robust the connections between the gesture and word choice become. So the speaker is better able to remember a memorised speech, or the content for which bullet point summaries are reminders. A speaker who habitually gestures is able to speak extemporaneously far more effectively than the speaker who doesn't. Invariably, this makes them better able to remember what to say and how to say it.
As soon as an audience is paying attention, the speaker must exhibit confidence.
That includes walking to the front of the room or onto the stage, or while sitting in a meeting while others are speaking. A leader is "on" whenever he or she is being watched by an audience, even when not speaking.
To 'sell' your idea, product or service, as the leader, you must pass your audience's ACID test:
A. Gain favorable Attention
C. Inspire Confidence
I. Build Interest
D. Allow Desire to surface.
When 'desire' surfaces, the others take the lead in the conversation while you provide the evidence necessary to justify the concept you are selling.
Reference:: The Power of Communication: Skills to Build Trust, Inspire Loyalty and Lead Effectively. Helio Fred Garcia