There are many companies and organizations in the world that follow the Peter Principle by promoting from within. They promote from within to create a strong sense of unity and loyalty amongst the employees. With this philosophy, there is one problem that is very prevalent. The people being promoted are learning their organizations inside and out, but they are not acquiring all the skills necessary to be a great leader. One skill being underdeveloped is the ability to speak in public to grab the attention of the audience. I call this the ability to “Speak Up” as a leader. Public speaking is a learned skill that many people are not learning as they progress through their career.
How can you speak up?
The goal of any leader is to speak up so they have confidence while giving their presentation to get their message across. As people speak up, there are three main barriers that inhibit leaders from conveying the message. The three barriers are verbal, vocal, and visual communication.
To speak up as a leader, it is important to use effective verbal communication. Verbal barriers are the barriers created from the words coming out of the speaker’s mouth. The verbal barriers come out when people stutter, have lots of “ums” or “ahs”, or have other issues causing them to stumble over their words. When speakers are “winging it,” there is a greater tendency for them to have these problems. It has been said that what you communicate is 7% verbal.
Vocal communication accounts for 38% of what you communicate to others. The vocal communication comes by the tone you use as you speak to others. Vocal barriers are created when you speak up in a tone that doesn’t connect with your audience. The vocal barriers are seen when leaders speak too quiet or too loud, in a squeaky or monotone voice, in an angry tone, etc. The way your voice sounds can say a lot more than the verbal words coming out of your mouth. You have probably all seen speakers that did not effectively communicate their message because of their vocal communication.
Visual communication accounts for 55% of what you are communicating. It comes from your body language and the visual aides you use. Leaders speak up visually when their body language communicates the same as what their words communicate. Visual barriers, on the other hand, come from the physical moments or graphics (i.e. Power Point, chalk board, etc.) that are very distracting. Some major visual barriers would be swaying back and forth, hands in the pockets, hands crossed, folded arms, distracted demeanor, etc. All these visual cues distract the listeners and take away from the message they are trying to get across to their audience.
If you are not sure if you speak up as a leader, video yourself giving a presentation and watch it so you can critique yourself. As you watch yourself, identify what you did well and what you can do better. If you don’t have access to a video camera, practice giving a presentation in front of someone that will give you honest feedback on the message you convey. Have them critique you once you are done conveying your message.
You can overcome each of the three barriers through repetitive practice. If you are giving a speech, practice it before giving it in public. If you are talking to another leader, go through what you want to say before you talk to the person. Practice having the conversation with someone else so that you can use the right body language. Another way to overcome these barriers is to know your content really well and have it clearly outlined before you present it.
What suggestions do you have to speak up as a leader? How can you overcome the communication barriers mentioned above? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!