If you are a leader, the chances are good that you are going to give some kind of presentation to your team in the next month. Whether you are the head of a department, a manager, supervisor, or some other position of leadership, one thing we expect leaders to do is communicate to the team—as a whole. You may not be Winston Churchill or Condoleezza Rice, but there are some checklist items that can help you make every presentation a positive one.
We often hear that for a vision statement to be fully maximized, leaders need to repeat it at least once a month. That seems like a lot to most people. However, I have observed that in almost every sector, the most dynamic leaders and the ones who are seeing their visions fulfilled most effectively are adamant about repeating it every month. They don’t say the exact same thing every time they speak, but they have learned to summarize their vision in a sentence, a catch phrase, or even a word. And, no matter what else they say, it always goes back to vision.
No matter what style of music you like, we all prefer the same radio station: WII-FM. (What’s In It For Me!) Leaders get so caught up in the vision, the organization, the new initiative, and their own private worlds that they forget to think about the audience. So, while you need to share your vision in some way, every time you speak publicly, you also need to speak authentically about what’s in it for the people. Be crystal clear on this. This is not the place to be vague.
What is the elephant in the room? Is it layoffs? Insurance premiums? Morale? Whatever it is, don’t ignore it. Acknowledge it. You may not have a solution, and the solution may not be a pleasant one, but the worst thing you can do is fail to acknowledge it. And when you address it, do so with hope. Speak with confidence, empathy, and realism. Don’t let them walk out of the meeting thinking, “He doesn’t have a clue” or “She just doesn’t get it.”
What do you want them to do? What do you want them to feel? What do you want them to think about differently? You may think that people just intuitively know what you want, but they don’t. You may think it’s insulting to them for you to spell it out precisely. It’s not. The clearer you are in your call for action, the more dynamic people will perceive you to be. Keep it simple. Keep it short. And by all means, keep it clear.