5 Speaking Lessons Leaders Can Learn From Presidential Debates
What professional lessons can hospital leaders learn from the 2012 presidential debates? Quite a few, according to Kristen Hayner, senior executive advisor with healthcare communications firm Jarrard Phillips Cate & Hancock.
Politics aside, the televised debates illustrate basic principles for effective communication. In a recent blog post, Ms. Hayner explained five lessons executives can pick up from the debates and bring into the C-suite.
1. Focus on the present. Although long-term visions are an integral part of the C-suite, speaking in the present builds the strongest ties with audiences. "Vision casting is important for framework, but it's the specifics of what is happening today that demonstrates your entrenchment in the same situation as your constituents," Ms. Hayner wrote.
2. Tell a story with your face. Even when a leader isn't in front of a camera or at the podium, his/her facial expression is still influential on the audience and suggests how the leader feels about a colleague's or opponent's remarks. "Smug smirks, head shaking, under-the-breath laughter, eyes downcast or peering straight ahead — each is as important as your words, or silence," Ms. Hayner wrote.
3. Don't abandon emotion. Sharing stories or using casual language allows the audience to relax and connect with statements. Ms. Hayner wrote that emotion "diffuses tension, humanizes facts and creates a focal point of your statement."
4. Use rhetorical questions. This device, when used effectively, lets the leader ask a broad question that unites the audience in an inspiring or thought-provoking way.
5. Don't lose pace. "When you lose a steady speaking rhythm, you lose your arguments and audience, plain and simple," wrote Ms. Hayner.
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