Find Your Executive Communication Style

microphone-audience

Every CEO knows that effective communication is vital to successful leadership. As CEO, your voice should define and protect your brand. Yet, communication is not always a skill that comes naturally. Over the years, I have encountered many CEOs who had a masterful command of their business, yet when it came to communicating their vision and strategy – to their employees, key stakeholders, customers, and the media – they did not feel confident in their ability as a speaker.

As someone who has worked with countless leaders to help them be better communicators, I’ve seen that half the battle is finding your own style.

What’s Not A Style?
There are a lot of crutches people use when speaking, whether in front of a room or a camera. Your style isn’t necessarily your comfort zone, and going there can really hold you back. So get rid of the crutches:

  • Sitting behind your desk is not a style.  Some leaders simply don’t want to get out from behind their desks and into the public eye. They say they don’t have time or that they’re just “low-key.” That’s a fallacy. Communicating is not optional if you are going to lead.  You must be visible, you must have something  meaningful to say, and you must say it well.
  • Not practicing is not a style.  Busy leaders love to say they are better at improvising when really they’re just avoiding the hard work of preparation. There are very few people who speak well off the cuff – and you probably aren’t one of them.  You must practice.
  • Reading is not a style. Don’t rely on your printed speech or the teleprompter.  A few notes are OK, but go into your talk or interview knowing the three key messages you want to communicate without having to read them. No excuses.

Finding Your Style
Finding your style is part instinct, part practice and part getting feedback from people who will shoot straight with you. Start by asking yourself these questions:

  • What are you passionate about? Whatever it is, find a way to talk about it. Or, use your most passionate delivery style as your benchmark.
  • Do you think more clearly when you have room to walk?  Or when you are standing still?  Or would you prefer to have a stool to sit on?
  • Do you prefer to hold something in your hands, like a pen or remote?
  • What gestures do you regularly make or could you make to help you punctuate your message?
  • How can the way you dress reflect the image and message you want to portray?
  • How can you use your personality to add life to your communication? Great communicators can be reflective or dynamic, witty or serious – or any other number of personalities.

Maybe you can answer some of these questions immediately, but others may require experimenting. Most important, practice and get feedback. Then practice some more and ask for some more feedback. Then do it again! Practice will be the key to developing and getting comfortable with your own style. Soon you’ll be well on your way to becoming a master communicator.

 

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Becky Powell-Schwartz, Founder & CEO