Leadership Notes #40 – Communication & Presentation

(This series of “notes” first appeared in the YahooGroup “VenturingList” and are written by Michael Brown. I thought that they were worth sharing with the Commissioner Corps.)

As leaders we need to be communicators. This is important for many aspects of leadership. As leaders we should develop a vision. But what good is that vision if we are unable to convey that vision to those we lead such that they accept and buy in to that vision. In leading people, we must be able to communicate with them, and that includes finding out what they need and want. This communication could be one on one or small groups.

Too often communication is seen as being totally separate from leadership. There are programs and classes on speech and communication, but divorced from leadership. On the flipside, sometimes people think that leaders must be great orators. Well, yes, some have been, for good or bad. But there have also been quiet people who are great leaders as well, but they still were able to communicate.

And always keep in mind that communication can be written as well as verbal. Can you organize your thoughts, put them down in a form that others can understand? This, too is important.

The recent movie, “The King’s Speech” illustrates this issue. It’s based on the true story about King George VI of England, who was king during WWII. He suffered all his life with stuttering, which impacted his ability to communicate. Since his older brother would be king, that wasn’t seen as too important. It is interesting in the movie how we see his father showing him the importance of the ruler to be able to communicate with his subjects, now thru the medium of radio. When his brother must abdicate the thrown, he then becomes the next king, and his stuttering issue becomes more important. We see in the film how the assistance of Lionel Logue helps him manage and be able to be a better communicator, and thus a better leader.

Often times we can see this with others, when their poor communication skills affects their ability to be a leader, even when it’s at the level of a Venturing Crew. I’ve seen this in small groups I’m in, where due to the poor communication skills of the group’s leaders, certain poor decisions were made because of this. There are solutions. A previous Notes I covered some of the programs of Toastmasters that are available to Venturers that can help them become better communicators.

An aspect of communications that is important is being a good presenter. This is more than just being a good speaker; it’s about conveying a message. An excellent resource for this is the book “The Exceptional Presenter” (2007) by Timothy Koegel (www.theexceptionalpresenter.com). This book is a sort of combination of a manual and workbook. There is great information in it, presented bit by bit, but also includes exercises to help practice the concepts being given. Quite honestly, many of the things he covers is also coved in Toastmasters.

The book is built around the idea of OPEN UP! This stands for the six characteristics the presenters must have:

  • Organized – be prepared, organized, have a clear message that is conveyed well.
  • Passionate – have enthusiasm and conviction.
  • Engaging – build rapport with the audience.
  • Natural – have a conversational style.
  • Understand your Audience – if you better know this, the easier it is to engage them.
  • Practice – the only way to improve is practice.

Here is an interesting interview with him on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sAd_ScIl0Yw

A recent phenomenon that is growing in usage is the virtual meeting. This can often times take the form of an on-line meeting or webinar, when usually a powerpoint presentation is given, with someone presenting it verbally. There are a lot of differences between this and traditional presentations, as the presenter does not get the immediate feedback from their audience. Koegel’s more recent “The Exceptional Presenter Goes Virtual” was written to address this. As the cost of being able to do on-line meetings and presentations decreases, we may see an increase of these within our community. So this may help leaders both youth and adult.