Mastering communication skills helps leaders to make better decisions.
Yes. Yes. Yes.
Yes, there's not a liberal America and a conservative America — there's the United States of America.
That's me high on energy watching Barack Obama’s Keynote Address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, chanting these lines with patriotic fervour, raring to vote for Barack Obama.
There is just one tiny issue. I am an Indian Citizen watching this speech on YouTube in the year 2021.
This was not the first time that I was watching this speech, but I still had goosebumps and a sense of breathless anticipation as I was once again swept away by the words of "a skinny kid with a funny name".
Note: President Obama describes himself as "a skinny kid with a funny name" in the speech.
Communication is a leadership skill that very few master, but those who master it have the power to change the course of history.
Some speeches have an almost magical quality to them. Be it the 'Do or Die' speech by Mahatma Gandhi during India's Freedom struggle, Martin Luther Kings 'I have a Dream' or Steve Jobs 2005 Stanford Commencement address.
Since part of my job is to help people become magicians... I mean powerful communicators; I am sharing five tried-and-true techniques of effective and powerful communication used by leaders.
So, let the magic begin!!
Successful communication, both spoken and written, requires a specific purpose. Be clear about your purpose, and convey it clearly to your audience too. If your ideas are not clearly expressed, the communication is unlikely to be effective no matter how valuable your ideas may be.
For e.g. The opening paragraph of this article makes it clear to the reader that they will take away 5 rhetorical techniques of effective and powerful communication used by great communicators.
“Know that our time in life is limited and think carefully about how to spend it. Don’t waste it living someone else’s life."
In his Stanford Commencement address, Steve Jobs urged graduates to pursue their dreams and see the opportunities in life's setbacks -- including death itself.
Coming from Steve Jobs these lines have immense credibility as he lived life on his terms following his heart and forging his path.
The same lines would have fallen flat if it came from a speaker who had lived their life following the dictates of the society, scared to try anything new and different.
It is important to have the right balance of logical and emotional content in your presentation. For getting it right take a cue from your topic and the audience.
Certain topics like Steve Jobs Stanford Commencement address will be high on emotional appeal.
However, other topics like presenting a technical product to the world will include more logical appeal, like technical data and analytics.
For Example, the Steve Jobs 2007 iPhone Launch Presentation.
It had lines like, "We made a beautiful, seamless version of OSX for Intel processors. And our team created Rosetta software which lets you run PowerPC apps on top of OSX on Intel processors."
This may not make much sense to a non-techie like me but was perfect for the audience it was presented to.
No matter how technical your topic, it should still have some elements of emotional content.
Have an elegant balance between these two elements–the logical and the emotional and leave your audience inspired and persuaded to your message.
“I declare that the blows struck at me will be the last nails in the coffin of the British rule in India.”
These are the electrifying words of the legendary freedom fighter of India, Lala Lajpat Rai after he was mercilessly beaten by the cops under British rule. Almost a century later these words still have the power to stir my heart.
Lala Lajpat Rai paints a vivid picture by comparing the blows struck at him as nails in the coffin of British rule in India.
Using metaphors has been a very powerful theoretical tool used by brilliant orators through the centuries.
Great communicators use vivid language and metaphors to leave a deep emotional imprint in the minds of their audience.
"Ruchi, mine is a serious topic. I can't share stories."
I still face pushback from some clients when I suggest the use of stories in their presentations. Then I ask, "Is it more serious than Bryan Stevenson's topic?"
Bryan Stevenson is a civil rights attorney and he shares some hard truths about America’s justice system in his TED Talk. According to “Talk like Ted,” Bryan Stevenson earned the longest standing ovation in TED history. His audience was so inspired by his presentation that they donated a combined $1 million to his non-profit. His talk has been voted one of the most “persuasive” talks on TED.com.
After a pause and a smile, I tell my clients an interesting fact.
Bryan spent 65 per cent of his presentation just telling stories!!
As Bryan Stevenson says, "You need data, facts, and analysis to challenge people, but you also need narrative to get people comfortable enough to care about the community that you are advocating for.”
It is a key part of what makes your speech persuasive. No matter how entertaining your presentation is, if the audience leaves without understanding what they are supposed to do with your ideas, it is a wasted effort.
One great example of the call to action is from Steve Jobs Stanford speech:
"Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become."
With this, we come to the end of this article. I leave you with five powerful and effective techniques of communication used by brilliant communicators through the ages. Use it well. And keep adding to it, as communication is a vast subject and a very powerful tool to success.
Like I had mentioned at the beginning of this article, Communication is a leadership skill that very few master, but those who master it have the power to change the course of history.
That speech I had started with... I am talking about Barack Obama’s 2004 Keynote. Well, that speech is also famous as the Speech that made Obama President.
To quote Lampe, the Chicago-based political consultant, "I walked on stage with my state senator from my neighbourhood, and I walked off stage with the next Democratic president of the United States.”
That is the power of effective communication.
Communication is a 'power' skill. Learn it, hone it, and conquer your world.
Ruchi Singh is an International keynote speaker, Communication Mentor for Leaders, International Best Selling Author, Talk Show Host & Award-winning Former HR professional. She has been a Keynote speaker at the United Nations. Other than Antarctica, Ruchi's work has touched lives on all the continents of our world. Learn more at ruchisinghtalks.com You can also connect with her on YouTube: RuchiSinghTalks, LinkedIn: Ruchi Singh, Instagram: RuchiSinghTalks and Twitter: RuchiSinghTalks