Communication occupies most of the leaders’ time at work. Earlier academic research in the 90s showed that managers were spending about 70-90% of their time communicating with their teams and others at workplace.
The time spent on communications by leaders will continue to go up in light of the use of e-communication. You can see Donald Trump is tweeting like no other president in America’s history. At work and in this fast-changing era, leaders are expected to be more responsive to emails, messages and queries.
In The 6 most compelling leadership qualities, we also identified communication is the real work of leadership, where confidence, clarity, careful listening and empathy are basics in leadership communication.
Also, to attract and increase followers, leaders will need to motivate people and convince them to believe in his vision and ideas.
Therefore, if we wish to achieve more in our career, excellence in leadership communication is inevitable.
This article will discuss communication in leadership and how to enhance your communication skills as a leader.
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We can develop leadership communication!
“Communication is a skill that you can learn. It’s like riding a bicycle or typing. If you’re willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life.” – Brian Tracy
To start with, we must note that no one is born with effective communication skills. It might be true that some people may grasp skills for effective leadership communication more quickly because of their innate characteristics, such as voice and self-confidence. However, it does not mean we cannot achieve the same level of these people or even more.
We must know that good leadership communication is much more than being good at talking. People who are good at talking speak non-stop and sometimes confuse the listeners.
We can boost leadership communication skills from improving our style of speaking.
- Speak with confidence
- Speak slow
- Observe your audience
- Listen carefully and actively
- Avoid filler words
- Be positive and respectful
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1. Speak with confidence
Many believe that the ability to speak confidently is congenital. There might be some truth in it. But it does not mean you cannot build our confidence.
The truth about confidence is not really about whether you are confident. Instead, it is all about how your audience sees and hears you.
Here are some tips to make you look confidently speaking.
(1) Clear and strong voice
The primary purpose of speaking is to make your messages heard by the others. A forceful but comfortable tone is always helpful in getting the audience attention.
That said, this is not saying you should shout, which is impolite and disrespectful.
Instead, your voice should be solid and just loud enough that you do not need to repeat the same sentence the moment after you just said it.
(2) Good eye contact
Good eye contact is powerful in showing confidence. It applies whether you are speaking a huge crowd or to just one person.
If you are speaking to just one person, look at them for about 60% of the time over the conversation. It is not necessary to look at the other for 100% of the time. Or, the other person will feel awkward.
If you are speaking to a crowd, you should look at the audience all the time. Instead of jumping very quickly between listeners or looking at somewhere else, your sight should stop at a person for a few seconds before moving on to another.
As a golden rule, your eye contact should make your audience feel comfortable but not intimidated.
(3) Good posture with appropriate facial expressions
To show your confidence (or to appear confident), you must mind your posture and facial expressions.
If you are standing, stand up straight with your feet aligned with your shoulders and distribute your weight equally across both legs. By doing that, you will not have unwanted body languages, such as swaying, that discredit your confidence.
If you are sitting, sit straight and ignore the backrest. If your feet are flat on the floor, they should align with your shoulder and your legs should be at about 90 degrees. You may also cross your legs.
As to your hands, make them visible. Never put them in pockets while speaking.
On facial expressions, unless you are speaking of some very serious matters, it is always good to smile at the audience as this makes the audience feel comfortable.
2. Speak slow
Since you are conveying a message and, probably, calling for an action, you should speak slow. This is beneficial for both you and your audience.
You can speak very quickly without notice especially when you are familiar with what you are saying or when you are nervous. However, this is easy for things go wrong – speaking something you do not really mean it. A slow pace allows you to speak and think, and observe the audience reaction so that you can adjust your speech.
Fast speech often makes the audience uncomfortable. For those who are trying to get something out of your words, they may not be able to grab hold your core message. Therefore, you must speak slowly to allow your message to sink in and give room for your audience to think about your message.
3. Observe your audience
A good leader is observant even when they are speaking. As your primary goal is to deliver a message and ensure your audience processes and understands it, observing and analysing the body languages and reactions of the audience is important.
Not only can you tell whether your audience understands what you are saying, but you can also know how they feel about it from their facial expressions. With this important information, you can further adjust your message accordingly.
4. Listen carefully and actively
Communication is always two-way. Listening carefully is an act of showing respect and signs that comments and concerns are heard properly. It gives you a chance to address concerns with precision immediately.
While listening, try to lightly nod and smile to show you are actually listening.
5. Avoid filler words
We often use filler words, such as “um” “ah” “well” “right”, when we speak casually.
However, in leadership speaking, this should be largely avoided because filler words:
- affect the effectiveness of getting audiences’ attention
- can lower the seriousness of your message as it gives the feeling of casualness
- make you sound nervous and that your message is not well-considered
If you really want to throw out some filler words for any reason, make good use of pauses. Good pauses give several advantages:
- let your words sink in
- keep yourself calm as you have a chance to take a deep breath
- redraw the audience’s attention in case they are lost
- collect your thoughts
6. Be positive and respectful
Your overall attitude in communications should be positive and respectful. This is notwithstanding in the face of any negative feedback or addressing a negative matter.
With this attitude, you can motivate your audience and gain respect for yourself.