PERFORMANCE-BASED COMMUNICATION: Getting Your Audience to React the Way You Want!
Close your eyes. When you hear the words great communicator, whom do you think of? Whose faces do you see? Which voices do you hear? Perhaps your list included politicians or public figures like Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama, Winston Churchill, or Martin Luther King, Jr. Or you might have gone in a different direction listing corporate executives like Jack Welch, Steve Jobs, or Suze Orman. Others might have chosen media figures like Oprah Winfrey, Bill Maher, or Tony Robbins.
They are among the list of people often considered great communicators. While many have the desire to emulate them, there is a common misconception that great communicators are simply born with the magical ability to move people with their words. Great communicators certainly make it look easy. But like any top athlete or brilliant opera star, most are not born. Rather, they’re made through disciplined practice and hours of hard work. They also spend focused effort learning great communication tools and techniques and never stopped honing them.
When great communicators speak and they’re “on,” they are perceived as what we call the 5Cs - clear, concise, confident, credible, and, especially, compelling. But they have something extra, some spark that makes them more engaging or dynamic than those who are just very good communicators, or even great ones. You may think it’s their self-confidence or their ability to tell a story, their facial expressions, body language,e or maybe their voice.
The reality is it’s never one thing alone that makes a speaker engaging in the audience’s eyes, whether that audience is a boardroom full of investors or someone’s in-laws at a dinner party. It’s the combination of the skills mentioned above, but there’s something else that helps them attain the mysterious combination of passion and confidence that results in charisma: the activation of the communicator’s secret weapon – a strong and specific intention in pursuit of a clear and tangible objective. The objective is what you want or need from your audience after the speech or presentation. The intention is the strong focused aim and delivery of that message that will help you pursue and ultimately achieve that objective.
The burden of engagement always lies with the speaker. As Stella Adler, the legendary acting teacher said, “When you stand on the stage you must have a sense that you are addressing the whole world, and that what you say is so important the whole world must listen.” It is the speaker’s responsibility whether running a meeting, presenting material, or sharing a story to engage the audience so fully and completely with what you are saying and how you are saying it that, at any given moment, you could literally hear a pin drop. A strong objective and intention can help you achieve that level of engagement.
Sadly, that often isn’t the case with most business communication. People across all industries consistently bemoan the poor communication skills of the individuals within their organization, from entry-level employees, all the way to the C-suite. Complaints include lack of credibility and assertiveness, low levels of enthusiasm, unclear messaging, and more.
Consider how many meetings you’ve attended, presentations you’ve sat through or stories you’ve listened to and wondered why you were meeting, why you should care, or when the meeting would end. Experts estimate that the average business professional attends a total of 61.8 meetings per month or more than three meetings per day. According to the National Statistics Council, 91 percent of professionals admit to daydreaming or even falling asleep during the meetings or presentations they attend.
Without engagement, which is defined as when an audience is in a willing state of attentiveness, effective communication is not possible. It doesn’t matter who you are or what topic you’re discussing, if your message does not hit its intended target, you will have fallen short of the mark as a communicator. Anyone tasked with delivering a message to others knows, you need to penetrate your audience to make an impact on them. You must engage them if you hope to persuade them.
We all know a great communicator when we see one, the individual that captures our attention, rouses our emotions, or compels us to take action. We are drawn to those people, personally, professionally, and in some cases publicly. The key to becoming that kind of communicator involves using the congruent, intention-based delivery skills that actors have used for centuries.
Just like an audience’s satisfaction and opinions of every movie or play are ultimately influenced by the delivery of the script, so it is in the boardroom, conference room, or offices. The key to success is to communicate your intentions clearly by using your whole body to deliver that message and get your audience to react and do what you want. Because those that have a strong objective and a clear intention are usually the most influential.
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to learn more at the June 2012 Chapter Meeting that Gary is facilitating! Check it out at: www.astdla.org.
G. Riley Milles (Gary)
Chief Operating Officer
Pinnacle Performance Company