When we think about great communicators, we think about people who influenced the outcome of world events by the power of their words. We think of people like Nelson Mandela, Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, John F Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.
In her book, Simply Speaking, Peggy Noonan remembers her time as a speechwriter for Ronald Reagan, and explains why the Reagan’s presidency had such an impact on the world stage.
“He was often moving, but he was moving not because of the way he said things, he was moving because of what he said. He didn’t say things in a big way, he said big things … Writers, reporters and historians were in a quandary in the Reagan years. ‘The People,’ as they put it, were obviously impressed by much of what Reagan said; this could not be completely dismissed.”
Ronald Reagan was known to be the Great Communicator, but it’s a nickname he did not agree with. In his farewell address to the nation and to the world, in his own humble way, he redirected the praise by saying:
“In all of that time I won a nickname, ‘The Great Communicator.’ But I never thought it was my style or the words I used that made a difference: It was the content. I wasn’t a great communicator, but I communicated great things, and they didn’t spring full bloom from my brow, they came from the heart of a great nation — from our experience, our wisdom, and our belief in principles that have guided us for two centuries.”
It doesn’t matter whether you are in a president or a manager -either way, your success depends heavily on communication.
So how great leaders communicate great things?
Great communicators know that people won’t listening unless they connect intellectually and emotionally. It’s all about the quality of the relationships the leader has with the people they communicate with. Know your audience and start by conveying an emotional stories that connect to their heart.
A great example of a connector is Bill Clinton-people say that, when Bill Clinton talks with you, he makes you feel like you are the only person in the world. Let your listeners feel your empathy and know you value their importance.
Communication is a two-way street. Great communicators know how to give and take in a reciprocal fashion. Not only do they initiate conversation, they help drive the direction and encourage others to take part in the conversation.
If you overwhelm your listeners, they will tune you out from confusion or confusion. Reagan was best known for being simple and clear. Never assume just because you understand what you’re saying that your audience does as well. Great communicators find ways to simplify though issues without being condescending.
Great communicators understand people retain only ten percent of what they hear, and they are artful at reinforcing key ideas through storytelling, context and repetition.
They use Humor
Great communicators are skillful to lower the defenses of those with whom they communicate. People sometimes can be on the defensive from over-communication these days. Great communicators show genuine interest in the other person and use humor and authenticity to come across as non-threatening.