Effective leaders use appreciative dialogue talk and use specific communication methods to achieve results.
Traditional Western assumptions have compared organizations to a machine. Organizations were compared to a machine with each employee being a cog in the machine. There was a clear hierarchy of authority and managers control those under their stewardship. Managers were completely in charge of controlling the work, determining best practices and training workers to follow strict rules.
There were two purposes of communication: to deliver orders from management to employees and to deliver production information upward from employees to managers. Employees were told to avoid two types of communication: bypassing (going above a supervisor) and horizontal talk (talking to each other about how to best do the work). The tradition model is outdated as we now know that managers must consciously invite employees to join them as partners in the managing process.
One model of management differentiates between two types of managers: theory x and theory y managers.
1. Theory x managers: These managers assume that employees dislike work and avoid it when possible. They also see employees as lacking ambition and needing direction. They aren’t concerned with the organizations needs and only care about take home pay. These managers give direct orders and micromanage, criticize and threaten punishment. 85% of managers have low views of employee motivation and ambition.
2. Theory y managers: These managers do not make the same assumptions about all workers and communicate with rather than down to employees. Units led by theory y managers are more productive than theory x managers. These leaders set direction, secure alignment, and support employees to help them be seen as valuable, competent and influential. These managers focus on leading employees so that they can manage themselves.
Commander D. Michael Abrashoff defined his leadership style as “Grassroots leadership.” In 20 months he turned the ship he was on from one of the lowest ranked ships to the highest ever ranked ship. He used many principles to achieve this:
1. Don’t command, communicate purpose.
2. Organize around performance, not obedience.
3. The Work you do matters more than the stripes you wear.
4. Feedback: Ask individuals what they like best, least and what they would change.
5. Question yourself first: If performance is lacking ask yourself: “Did I clearly articulate the goals I was trying to achieve? Did I give people the time, resources and training to get the job done?”
Public Speaking – Aristotle, Cicero & Carnegie
One important part of leadership is the ability to communicate in front of large groups of people. Aristotle’s three persuasion methods, Cicero’s five canons of persuasion and Carnegie’s tips are all
useful guides for crafting influential speeches.
Aristotle described three tools or techniques that speakers can use to persuade an audience: ethos, logos, and pathos.
1. Ethos refers to how the audience perceives the speaker’s character. A speaker will be more persuasive if he is viewed as trustworthy and credible. Speakers need to be viewed as intelligent (competent) and having good will (caring). You need to be sufficiently knowledgeable to address a topic and you need to be motivated by genuine concern and not self-interest.
2. Logos refers to the strength and structure of your claims and arguments. Develop a core argument that is supported by convincing evidence.
3. Pathos refers to the emotions felt by the audience during a speech. Aristotle suggested that good speakers elicit the appropriate emotions that are relevant to the argument being made. If you can inspire emotions in your listeners then they will be more likely to understand your perspective and to be persuaded to act.
Robert Kennedy’s announcement of the assassination of Martin Luther King on April 4, 1968, is considered to be among the most moving speeches in U.S. history. It is a perfect demonstration of Aristotle’s three tools. Kennedy used Logos by arguing that Dr. King lived and died for peace and that violence would destroy his vision of a united America. He utilize pathos by expressing grief, sadness and anger and didn’t try to hide them. He encouraged the audience to feel the same. Kennedy also established credibility by highlighting what a friend Dr. King was to him. He showed good will by acknowledging the racial tensions that existed and being honest with the crowd.
The Roman Orator Cicero joined the Roman Senate in 75 B.C. and was a skilled orator. He introduced the five canons of persuasion: invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery.
1. Invention: Speakers need to prepare speeches by doing research and picking the arguments most compelling to the given audience.
2. Arrangement: Speakers need to effectively structure their arguments. Typically you establish credibility (ethos), you then make your arguments (logos) and then you elicit emotions in your audience (pathos).
3. Style: This refers to what emotions your tone will elicit in the audience. Use a tone that is appropriate for the setting and that will elicit the emotions you desire.
4. Memory: Memorizing speeches allows you to focus your attention on the audience and not your notes.
5. Delivery: Ensure you practice how you will deliver your speech. Use language that the audience understands, be clear, vivid and follow local conventions. You need to genuinely feel and display emotions you want your audience to feel.
In his classic book, Dale Carnegie outlines three fundamental principles for dealing with people that can be adapted to speech making: (1) Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain. (2) Give honest and sincere appreciation. (3) Arouse in your audience an “eager want.”
Practice Your Delivery: Patrick Henry
Patrick Henry gave a famous speech during the American Revolution in which he said: “Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace—but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” –Patrick Henry, Give Me
An Eyewitnesses said of Patrick Henry: “The tendons of his neck stood out white and rigid like whipcords. His voice rose louder and louder until the walls of the building and all within them seemed to shake and rock in its tremendous vibrations. Finally his pale face and glaring eyes became terrible to look upon.”
The action of a speech has two parts: the voice and the body. The Voice includes:
i.) Volume: Volume is the easiest tool to use. Use a variety of loud and soft sounds and match them to your speech. You can make your speech a crescendo, as Patrick Henry did with the “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” speech.
ii.) Pitch: This is how high or low your voice is. Most of the speech should given in a comfortable middle range but you should vary pitch from high to low for dramatic value. You can practice by cross-training through singing.
iii.) Tone: Tone usually refers to the emotion that is conveyed in the voice. Think about the expression “I didn’t like his tone of voice”. Tone can indicate anger, sadness, joy or fear.
iv.) Pauses (silence): How often you pause between words or ideas.
v.) Pace: How quickly you are speaking.
vi.) Accents you put on individual words: How you emphasize different parts of speech.
vii.) Inflection of a phrase: Choosing how to use pitch and tone at certain parts of the speech.
Body Language is also important and can refer to the following:
i.) Stand up straight: This suggests assurance, conviction, and pride. Be sure to make the best of your height no matter how tall you are.
ii.) Gestures: Don’t make useless movements and make sure your gestures reinforce particular words or phrases. Don’t invent unnatural poses but instead use your hands like you would in regular speech.
iii.) The Importance of Eye Contact: The eyes are the most important part of your body while speaking. One person that saw Patrick Henry give the “Liberty or Death” speech said, “He fixed the audience with a glare.” Looking into the eyes of the audience will fix their attention on your message.
The main points around using your voice and body can be summarized in the following 5 points:
1. Use your voice and body language to reinforce your message.
2. Always match your voice and movements to specific words and emotions.
3. When you first start out as a speaker, mark the tone and gestures into your text as reminders; they are as important as the words themselves.
4. Establish and maintain eye contact with your audience.
5. In cases where you are not inciting a revolution, smile.
Be Yourself: Elizabeth I to her army
When the Spanish Armada was about to attack the outnumbered English, Queen Elizabeth gave a speech to her army. The key moment in her speech is when she confesses her sense of her own weakness: “I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman.” Elizabeth opened up about her weaknesses and was vulnerable with her audience. Remember to open up and reveal who you really are. There are lots of ways in which you can talk to people about yourself. It doesn’t have to be just weaknesses; it can be personal things to you that help people understand you.
Dale Carnegie similarly said: “Be yourself, and let your audience know who you are.” Don’t talk in abstractions or in impersonal terms. Own who you are and show that to the audience.
Here are six suggestions for embracing and being yourself:
1. Explain your personal connection to the subject of your speech.
2. Share your own emotions, beliefs, and ideas, and don’t shy away from revealing your weaknesses and failures.
3. Establish a personal link with your listeners at the start of your speech.
4. Use plain, direct language, but never talk down to your audience.
5. Don’t hesitate to read your speech from a script if necessary.
6. Make sure that your audience will be able to hear you.
Find Your Humorous Voice: Will Rogers
Will Rogers was a great example of using humor to improve public speaking. Every joke that he used was used to make a point and to focus attention on the real substance of his speech.
From Will Rogers we can learn six tips for using humor in speeches:
1. Laugh at yourself before you laugh at others.
2. Comedy helps relax your audience, especially at formal occasions.
3. Use humor to focus on your theme, not to distract from it.
4. Jokes can illuminate serious points, providing new thoughts and perspectives.
5. Your humor should reflect your own personality.
6. Nothing unifies an audience quicker than laughter.
Make it a Story: Marie Curie
Marie Curie was good at taking bland scientific facts and presenting them through interesting narratives. The human brain is designed to remember and understand stories and not decontextualized facts. Learn how to make facts memorable by attaching them to an interesting narrative. Four tips for utilizing narrative in speeches include:
1. Use stories and narratives to make your speech easy to follow and the details easy to understand and remember.
2. Clearly identify your theme at the beginning of your speech.
3. Include vivid and memorable details that bring your subject to life.
4. Anticipate your audience’s questions, and provide the answers in the body of your speech.
Use the Power of Three: Paul to his People
Winston Churchill told the British people that all he had to offer was “blood, toil, tears and sweat.” However, this phrase has been remembered as simply “Blood, sweat and tears” illustrating the point that we like to think in threes. The importance of threes is illustrated again in the advice to make your speech a story. Every story has three parts: a beginning, middle and an end. Give your speech a clear beginning, middle and ending. The end of your speech should be a climax, and not just a repetition or summary of what went before.
Paul’s letter to the Corinthians is a great example of using threes (faith, hope and charity): “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face; now I know in part; but then I shall know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, agape, these three: but the greatest of these is agape.” (1 Corinthians 13)
Consider these three points when utilizing the power of threes in your speech:
1. Construct your speech in three parts: introduction, body, and conclusion.
2. Create a rhythm with clauses, examples, and parallel sentences in groups of three.
3. Use adjectives and other short sequences of words in threes.
Paint Pictures in Words: Tecumseh
In 1811 Tecumseh gave a speech to various Indian tribes about the importance of Indian unity. Tecumseh used vivid and concrete imagery to make his points: “Where today are the Pequot? Where are the Narragansett, the Mohican, the Pocanet, and other power tribes of our people? They have vanished before the avarice and oppression of the white man, as snow before the summer sun. … Sleep no longer, O Choctaws and Chickasaws, in delusive hopes. … Will not the bones of our dead be plowed up, and their graves turned into plowed fields?”
Tecumseh commands the interest of his audience in two ways:
i.) He gives real-world examples of what is going to happen: “Will not the bones of our dead be plowed up, and their graves turned into plowed fields?”
ii.) He also uses Metaphors to paint pictures: A metaphor is a figure of speech in which you use one image to represent another. “They have vanished before the avarice and oppression of the white man, as snow before the summer sun.”
Six tips for using imagery in your speeches are:
1. Focus the attention of your listeners with words that create images in the mind.
2. Use poetic language to make your words easy to recollect and more evocative of memories, of feelings, of shared experience with your audience.
3. In logical arguments or technical explanations, use metaphors to help your listeners “see” a problem or a situation more clearly than they would with an abstract, non-metaphorical explanation.
4. Don’t mix your metaphors, and make sure your metaphors are appropriate for the particular occasion and audience.
5. Make abstract observations and principles vivid to your listeners by adding concrete, easy-to-picture examples.
6. Energize your presentation by imagining dialogue and dramatic confrontations.
Focus on your audience-Ghandi
Ghandi was able to direct his speeches at very specific audiences. From Ghandi we learn the following 3 points:
1. Ask yourself in advance, “Who is my audience?” and adapt your speech to address them particularly and directly.
2. Your tone, your language, and your examples should all be chosen with a specific audience in mind.
3. Always be courteous, respectful, sympathetic, and mindful of your audience’s comfort.
Share a Vision: Martin Luther King Jr
MLK’s “I have a dream” speech is the prototypical inspirational speech. Each speech needs a principle tone and King’s tone was “inspiring.” MLK did not use negatives to try to create positives as in his speech he doesn’t reference the outrages and injustices that his people have suffered. He was relentlessly positive. “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed…We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” King then describes his own personal vision for his own family: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
From MLK we can learn 5 things about casting a vision:
1. Integrate all three kinds of appeals—logic, personal concerns, and emotions—if you want to make your most satisfying and most compelling case.
2. If you want to create the feeling of visions, repeat words and phrases.
3. Weave familiar quotations and references to well-known texts into your speech.
4. Divide a long speech into three clear-cut sections; give each section its own particular tone and its own particular take on your theme.
5. Maintain eye contact with your audience, and maintain your energy while reading quotes. Use pauses and changes in vocal tone to set the quotes apart from your text.
Call for Positive Action: Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address
One of the most important parts of a speech is the ending so you need to make sure that you end well. The words need to be strong and you need to deliver them strongly as Lincoln did during his
Gettysburg address. End with a positive call to action as Lincoln did: “It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have, thus far, so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full
measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
From Lincoln we learn to establish unity with the audience. He never says “I”; he never says “you”; it’s always “we.” That’s an ideal for us all to follow as speakers; to establish a complete unity with our audience.
This post has been a summary of: The Art of Public Speaking, John Hale, The Teaching Company