What Makes A Great Communicator, The Ultimate Snake Charmer
Years ago, Ronald Reagan was known as the great communicator. Even Bill Clinton had a reputation for walking into a room and charming a den of snakes. When it comes to communications, many of us think we’re not too bad at this game. The truth of the matter can be quite different. We think we are charmers but in reality we are not tapping into the current mood of the people we are trying to persuade.
“People know when you are telling them a lot of B-S…”
Now I don’t know if you have ever taught undergrads, but being persuasive among this lot can give the best communicator a good run for his or her money.
First off, this crowd is not easily impressed. Secondly, there is the question of attention span. Have you every felt that you were getting across to someone only to realize that it was an illusion? Actual understanding is so much more profound. Just ask Ramana Maharishi. He rarely spoke, but his energy vibration was so potent that were you to sit in a room with him, you felt he understood your deepest feelings and emotions.
Presumptions about understanding are rampant with people we think that we know. This allows us to believe we are getting through when in reality we are talking past the very people to whom we wish to communicate. References and touchstones are relative. Being on the same wavelength is really a question of consciousness. The moment you are rushed or preoccupied with other thoughts is the moment that non-communications is taking place.
Simply put, if you have any intentions towards leadership, then you must be a great communicator.
Speak with authenticity and from the heart and you will connect. The moment you try to get clever your message will be askew.
“Are you so easily distracted…”
Here are a few keys to recalibrate how to be a great communicator:
Speak to groups as individuals. This is a hard nut to crack but it is essential. No one wants to feel like a number lost in a crowd. To engage you must make eye contact and show intimacy. The moment you can do this, a bond is fostered and every one in the room feels as if you are speaking to him or her directly. To get to this level of communications is magical. During the messaging you won’t even know because you will have lost all sense of I. It’s a zen-like moment. Satori was never easier.
Talk so people will listen. If the success of a restaurant is location, location, location then the hallmark of a great communicator is to listen, listen, listen to your audience. Gauge your perception and be ready to adapt and change your tone and style according to your audience. Do not drone on nor read from a slide presentation. This is not communicating. There are terms to describe this approach none of which are positive. When your audience becomes participants with feedback and questions contributing to the discourse, know that you are on track and have cracked the code on how to really reach out and touch people.
Remember, communications is not what I say or the highway. It’s a two way street. Actually, it’s a dialogue. Tone and texture play a significant role as does body language. Do you file your nails when someone else is speaking to you? I thought not. However, you don’t think twice about reading email or sending SMS. Actions always speak louder than words. Show you are engaged not distraught or distracted.
The power of connecting emotionally. Maya Angelou, a great communicator once stated: “People will forget what you said and did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” Let your emotional intelligence shine otherwise people will know you do not care what they are saying. Don’t let your persona or ego get in the way.
Dress your body language. Some people are afraid of authority and suits in general. Don’t kid yourself, clothes speak volumes whether formal or informal. If you desire frankness be forthright. People will rarely tell you what they tell their peers. The old chestnut that the suit makes the man (or woman) is spot on. Clothes set the tone. The way you speak and move your body reveal unspoken messages.
Being a great communicator is that simple.
“A great hat speaks volumes…”
What are your intentions. Clearly, know what you want talk about. Are you giving a discourse or is your objective to chair an informal discussion. To be convincing you will need to focus on content. Content always matters, It shows intent and defines a sense of purpose. Don’t fill the air with wasted words. Also remember, nobody likes to be talked down to. Avoid jargon. Forget insider terminology. Jargon seems to invite inclusion but winds up excluding the very souls you want to engage with.
Stepping up your game. The best way to do this is to study speakers you admire. Watch how they engage an audience. Notice the dynamics. Quickly, you will notice that there is no one style to communicate. Circumstances can dictate the gravity of speaking. Most great communicators understand human psychology and know to make contact. They feel your pain. They identify with their audience. They do not act as echo chambers but listen closely before making recommendations when asked for advice.
Let’s hear from you! In your view what does it take to be a good communicator? How easy or hard do you feel it is to interact and persuade your audiences.
About the author
Andrew Scharf shares provocative ideas on the topics of leadership, innovation, talent development, and coaching. He is also an award winning career advisor and the Head Koi at CAREO, a division of Whitefield Consulting Worldwide. If you would like to learn how to balance your professional objectives with your personal aspirations, contact Whitefield Consulting Worldwide for further counsel.
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