Communication is essential for leaders. It demonstrates one’s positive traits, creates buy-in, builds employee engagement, and reflects one’s honesty and authenticity. Research has found that only 10 percent of communication is verbal. Half is non-verbal and 40 percent is paraverbal. As a result, leaders need to recognize that how they convey a message is as important as what they convey in the message.
*Know. Leaders must convey the essence of their message as clearly and specifically as possible. The key question to answer is, “What are the facts?”
*Understand. The audience must understand the details. People want a solid context and will ask questions to confirm their understanding. The key questions to answer are, “Why do we need to do this? Why have we decided that?”
*Believe. The audience must believe in the value of what a leader asks them to do and believe that they can accomplish it. This is the buy-in phase. The key question to answer is, “What are the benefits for the people receiving the message or for other stakeholders?”
*Act. In many circumstances, a leader’s communication will lead to an action. People will be committed to act only if they know, understand, and believe the message.
Effective communicators clearly understand what motivates and inspires others. Storytelling can be a powerful way to illustrate and convey ideas. Powerful stories have four characteristics:
1. Purpose. The speaker focuses on the essentials and knows why they are telling the story.
2. People. The story talks about real characters.
3. Plot. The story has a beginning, middle, and end.
4. Place. The story is situated in a place that the audience can visualize.