The following is a guest article written by Chuck Garcia, the founder of Climb Leadership International, an executive coaching firm that focuses on teaching skills related to public speaking, emotional intelligence, and executive presence. Chuck formerly spent twenty-five years in leadership positions at Bloomberg, BlackRock, and Citadel Investment Management.
After years of working with a variety of organizations in multiple industries, one conclusion is clear as day. Career transformations typically falter because individuals overlook the need to improve their ability to persuasively communicate.
The Ten Commandments…
Most individuals generally focus on developing their technical skills but often dismiss as irrelevant leadership competencies critical to succeed in the 21st century. That attitude has caused countless individuals to reflect, rethink, and regret the negative impact it had on their careers. It’s not that domain expertise doesn’t matter. It does. But those who merely satisfy minimum communication requirements often don’t have the speaking skills required to ascend to the top of their careers.
Call to Action: From my book A Climb to the TOP: Communication & Leadership Tactics to Take Your Career to New Heights, you can adopt a toolkit to bring discipline and rigor to communicate with power and purpose. Called the Ten Commandments of Great Communicators, focus on one or two tactics now and gradually practice the others over time. Your meetings and presentations will be more compelling and perhaps unforgettable. As you strive for progress, not perfection, do not be surprised when others lean in and begin to model your effective communication tactics.
1. THE PRIMACY AND RECENCY EFFECT: If you don’t start your speech with something that captures your audience’s attention, you’re going to lose them immediately. And if you don’t close with something equally compelling—an inspiring call to action, you have wasted your time and theirs. Learning to start and finish powerfully is the called Primacy and Recency Effect.
2. POWER OF EMOTIONAL APPEAL: When you address the audience, people aren’t going to recall the exact words you deliver but will remember how you makde them feel. Understanding how to recognize and leverage those emotions are key to becoming a persuasive speaker.
3. SPEAK WITH CONVICTION: The importance of a carefully crafted message is critical. The words you choose, the tone, inflection, etc. are all considered a part of that communication package headed to the receiver. Ultimately, we all want to sound clear, definitive, and sure of ourselves. If you want people to believe in you and in what you say, speaking clearly and with conviction is a good place to start. Eliminate uh, uh, and ‘ya know and watch how intently they start to listen.
4. BODY LANGUAGE: Your body speaks before your mouth opens. There are 19 body parts, 407 gestures, all communicating in silence. The lesson: Control your body language or it controls you.
5. MINIMIZE THE DISTANCE: We’re conditioned to believe that there should be barriers between a speaker and an audience. This is a time-honored habit that needs to change. Like a good TED talk, eliminate barriers to maximize audience engagement.
6. THE RULE OF 3: The Rule of Three is everywhere – from the delivery of comedic sketches and stage productions to advertising jingles. Not only is it an excellent means of distilling loads of information into digestible chunks, it makes your message more memorable. For example: The Three Little Pigs, has a Beginning, Middle, and End, and sits on my son’s shelf next to The Three Musketeers.
7. ALWAYS PUNCTUATE: Punctuation is essential to communication when you write – it is just as important when you speak. However, since listeners can’t see commas, question marks, or exclamation points, you must express them in ways that make them care. Be intense, sincere, and passionate. Stories make their way to an audience with power, precision, and punctuation.
8. POWER OF THE PAUSE: Mark Twain once said, “The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.” Pauses allow the speaker to concentrate on their call to action, creates suspense, and allows the listener to catch up.
9. LEVERAGE THE VISUALS: We change our clothes, eat different foods, and watch different television shows, all in the pursuit of variety. Time and again audiences mumble things like “I can’t listen to him any longer” and “When will it be over?” No variety, engagement, or results. The effective integration of lively and colorful visuals can counterattack this and ensure audience engagement.
10.VARY YOUR PITCH AND TONE: How you deliver your speech will dictate the tone, mood, intention, and your perceived command of the topic. One way to think of this is to visualize and recall the differences in musical instruments. Take a violin and cello: the violin is high and bright, the cello low and slow. Depending on your pitch, you are attaching different emotions to your words. Take any sentence and play around with the pitch and its meaning will undoubtedly change. Recognizing, understanding, and changing your approach are critical to deliver messages that people want to hear.
As you learn to apply these principles, many will seem unnatural, uncomfortable, and awkward. Public speaking brings fear and frustration to many. But it is in the act of overcoming challenges where growth occurs. Your commitment to these ten public speaking commandments will forge a path to the top of your career mountain. To buy A Climb to the TOP, click A Climb to the TOP on Amazon
Chuck Garcia is the founder of Climb Leadership International and coaches executives worldwide on public speaking, emotional intelligence, and executive presence. His clients include many of the world’s best and biggest companies. He is a motivational speaker, Amazon bestselling author of A Climb to the Top, and a Columbia University faculty member. Chuck is also a passionate and accomplished mountaineer who has scaled peaks all over the world. He formerly spent twenty-five years in leadership positions at Bloomberg, BlackRock, and Citadel Investment Management. Learn more by visiting chuckgarcia.com.