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Tips to Improve Leadership Communication Skills
Executives who deliver a clear, concise and relevant message become more than just bosses — they become leaders.
Every executive was once a manager, and every manager was once an entry-level employee. Those who advanced understood that making the right impression and sending the right message was not a luxury — it was a necessity.
Once emerging managers themselves, they carefully prepared for both impromptu and planned presentations, and they saw dividends paid in the form of increased trust, credibility and leadership opportunities, both for themselves and their companies.
In their book, Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why People Demand It, Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business instructors James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner emphasize for all who want to become leaders to “say what you mean and mean what you say.”
Preparation is essential, but fortunately not complex. Here are some keys to consider.
Define Goals, Hone the Message
With desired outcomes in mind, speakers gain focus on delivering the key points they want the audience to remember and take away and share with their peers. For learning leaders preparing to lead meetings, this step may be as simple as jotting down individuals’ assignments for various tasks, then outlining the main points that will convince each person to take ownership.
Know the Audience
By considering each audience’s background, beliefs and expectations, speakers can more easily calibrate the demeanor and vernacular most appropriate for the topic at hand. Some executives — and even national leaders, like President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton — can forget their audience at times. Successful communicators remember that each audience is unique and therefore work hard to make their information and presentation understandable.
Keep It Short and Sweet
Messages can get muddled by dense terminology. Worse yet, they can get missed entirely if the audience loses interest.
Many trainers recommend coming up with three or four main points, then thoughtfully introducing the messages, delivering them and saying them again. Using different words, anecdotes or figures keeps the message lively.
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