Effective leadership requires effective communication. As our organization grows, our communication skills must grow with it! I began speaking professionally when I was twenty-three years of age. I was OK but nothing to write home about. However, over time, I have grown tremendously as a communicator! How did I grow? I actually had a plan to grow as a communicator. Growth never happens by mistake. Experience won’t necessarily make you better. I know people who have preaching or speaking for years and have not improved at all! Do you have plan to grow your communication skills? You need a plan for growth! Here are:
Three Fast Ways to Grow As A Communicator:
Watch or Listen To Yourself.
I know. It’s painful. It’s indeed painful to go back and watch or listen to a talk that you just gave. Yes, you will be your own worst critic, but that’s sort of the point! As you listen to your last talk, take notes on what was right, wrong, missing, or confusing. Take notes of words or phrases (or jokes) you use too often. Look for mannerisms or “ticks”(habits, mannerisms, or words I use too often) that could potentially distract from the message? Now do this every time you speak. For over ten years as a weekly preacher, our church held both Saturday Night and Sunday services. Every Sunday morning after speaking twice the night before, I would go back and LISTEN to the sermons I had preached the night before, while primarily asking myself one question: “How can I make it better today?” Even today, I like to set my iphone on the lectern when I speak, record it, and listen to myself within 24 hours and make notes. I may not be the prefect communicator, but I am much better than I used to be, and I will get better. What about you?
Invite Specific Feedback.
You shouldn’t be the only one watching or listening to yourself speak. Have you see the early episodes of American Idol? We do no always have the best perspective on our own talent! In addition to listening to myself after every talk after every sermon I preached over the years, I would also circles up with 3-4 trusted members of my team each week, and invite very specific feedback on my last message. I didn’t just want to know “How was it?” To invite specific answers, I would ask questions like:
- Was was Right? Wrong? Missing? Confusing?
- Was the opening engaging?
- How was my passion level on a scale from 1-10?
- Did that illustration make sense? Did it connect?
- Was I funny?
- Was I appropriately vulnerable?
- Did I use any “ticks?”
- Was the closing call to action clear?
If you ask the right questions, you get the right answers! Then, I would be careful not to be defensive when critiqued! If you shut down honest feedback because of your defensiveness, you just shut down your best ability get better! Take notes and process everyone’s feedback. Every element of feedback might not be relevant. Some of it will be, at that’s the point!
Script (At Least) Your Opening & Closing.
Scripting out more what we are going to say is one of the best ways I know to ensure we are bringing fresh language and content to the stage. Write out what you are going to say word for word. Take your notes into your Study and speak the content out loud several times. Internalize the message. The more familiar you are with your content when you stage the stage, the more relaxed you will be. Then, memorize your closing and deliver it strongly! See, communication is not primarily about delivering content. It’s about connecting with and moving your audience. Every second you're not looking at your notes, you’re making more eye contact with the crowd, and connecting with them at a higher level. Be a leader that connects with people! Be relatable. Be vulnerable. Be passionate. Be humorous. Be passionate, but play loose! Close with clarity and conviction. Before you know it, you have grown as a communicator!
Let me know if this helps!