Top 7 Lessons Managers Can Learn From Politicians About Speaking
By Bill Lampton, Ph.D.
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To improve their presentations, managers hire speech coaches, ask colleagues to critique their speeches, and read articles and books about speaking. Here’s something else they can do to strengthen their speaking: watch political speakers in action. Consider these valuable lessons managers can learn that way.
- Refresh Your Language
President Kennedy’s slogan “The New Frontier” and George H. W. Bush’s “a kinder and a gentler nation” stimulated listeners and fostered support. Illustrated negatively, bland politicians repeat ad nauseam, “Bring this country back to the people,” or “I don’t believe in handouts, but I do believe in offering a hand up.”
When a manager watches a video of her speech, does she find herself talking about “what each one of us brings to the table,” “the elephant in the room,” or “have to think outside the box”? To rid your speeches of tired, trite phrases, list the ones you slip into using habitually, and replace them with jargon-free wording.
- Speak Less Frequently
Quite early in a campaign, candidates begin to speak wherever they can find an audience. They pontificate in panel discussions and interviews, debates, and addressing live audiences. After two months, the public has heard them enough. Listeners become jaded. This explains, in part, why a candidate who enters the race months later sparks a huge welcome. Voters are happy to hear a fresh voice with new content.
Applied to management, do managers speak too often? Is there a surplus of meetings, even after the last fifteen years have brought us so many other ways to exchange messages and ideas? Further, does the manager have to be the only administrator who directs every necessary meeting? Calling on others to preside would introduce welcomed variety, as well as giving your colleagues experience in presiding.
- Accept Full Responsibility For a Situation
Just as politicians rely on “We wouldn’t be in this mess if the previous Governor had acted responsibly,” managers look for scapegoats: “Not surprising our sales fell down, because our top sales professional went to work for our competitor.”
A more candid and constructive approach: “It’s obvious our sales have dropped from last year. Clearly, I haven’t been giving our sales team the attention and support that I once did. I’m increasing my involvement and leadership immediately.”
- Give Accurate Information
Within the last two years, a new word has gained popularity among politicians. When they are exposed for making a false statement, they reply lamely and quite evasively, “I misspoke.” Not surprisingly, the press probes the story vigorously. The astute manager protects himself up front by telling “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”
- Say the Same Thing to Every Audience
In previous decades, a politician might get by with promising one thing in Iowa and a contrasting favor in Indiana. That could not work in today’s blogosphere and in the major Social Media sites. Likewise, managers will maintain their credibility by keeping their messages identical with every department, division, client, and board member they address.
- Encourage Group Participation
The most successful politicians have mastered audience involvement. In Town Hall meetings, they invite attendees to express their concerns. In large auditoriums they say, “Raise your hand if health care has become a major part of your financial problem.” Best practice managers rely on fool-proof ways to get everybody’s ideas: “Bruce, that’s a fine idea. Let’s turn to Sally now. What other approach could solve our payroll delays?”
- Use Real Life Examples to Make Your Point
The politician calling for increased financial aid for college students might describe a recent college graduate whose huge debt will threaten her solvency for the next twenty years. Certainly this approach becomes most effective when the student is willing to speak to the group herself.
Compelling case histories help managers make their points convincingly, too. “Marjorie showed all of us last month that when we are open to new ways of doing things, we can learn what we need to. She had never worked extensively with computers, and now she is writing the company’s daily blog.”
Bill Lampton, Ph.D., "Speech Coach for Champions," helps clients speak with "poise, power, and persuasion," so they will generate "attention, agreement, and action." His top-tier client list includes Gillette, Duracell, Procter and Gamble, Ritz-Carlton Cancun, and Celebrity Cruises. Visit his Web site to sign up for his complimentary online newsletter: http://tinyurl.com/otlcgz Call him: 678-316-4300 Visit his Facebook business page:
Article Submitted On: July 21, 2011