Leadership Communication: Smart & Fresh

It’s true for meetings, panels or when speaking in front of staff – impactful communication always follows four criteria:

structure, tangibility, brevity and simplicity. Leadership communication requires punchlines, powerful imagery and personal statements that give people orientation. Also crucial: simple language, comprehensive structure and a fresh style. This is how leadership can achieve a strong impact when communicating.

Is this the status quo? Nope. To this day, far too many slide presentations are given that are little more than overloaded, self-explaining scripts. Too many managers still try to get across every little detail in packed bar graphs and spread sheets, leaving those listening with only one feeling: disconnection. This is a shame, given the positive potential of effective leadership communication – both inside and outside the organization.

What are the don’ts of impactful leadership communication?

The Powerpoint trap – Powerpoint can be a strong communication tool, yet it is often misused as a written document. Speakers use these slides as their support when speaking and fail in their communication goal: to win others for their ideas – which requires clever, fresh and sometimes witty ideas that leave an impact.

The facts & figures rut – A talk is coming up. Last changes to the content and structure are made. More facts and figures are added, with an exclusive focus on the written word. Little time is spent thinking about what the listener will take away from the talk. What leadership needs is compelling communication: geared towards the listener, suitable for the human ear, simple and clear.

The language bore – Modern management often overuses unfamiliar business school jargon as well as in-house acronyms and abbreviations, leaving the listener frustrated and bored: “The executive committee articulates granular ecosystems,” and “CSR is PL when BGC contacts VI.”

Good leadership can close the gap between perception and reality with the help of successful verbal communication that includes emotional competence and rhetorical know-how. We need the courage to communicate in a simple and fresh way. This is how communication creates what we want it to: common ground.