Allow your personality to shine through! Part 3

July 29, 2008
Telling Stories by Enoch Mukiibi

Telling Stories by Enoch Mukiibi

My last two posts gave you two reasons to reveal your personality when you talk to your stakeholders (here and here). If you’re still not convinced, another reason to reveal your personality is to hold attention:

“When you stand up and speak to any audience, as their leader you have their attention. But keeping their attention is another challenge. If you are official, dispassionate, concerned about articulating your messages clearly, you will tend to have a flat, focused-on-the-facts presentation. No matter how significant your facts — how relevant, how dramatic — facts after awhile are exhausting, not compelling.

“When you strive to reveal your personality you will have a more conversational tone. You will have more rhythms and more gestures. You will include your stories. You will create the peaks and valleys you need to keep your audience engaged and, at moments, personally inspired.”

Again, Anett D. Grant‘s insight is valuable. First, if you allow yourself to relax and just BE, you’ll be more comfortable. And everyone works better when they’re comfortable, right? And second, notice where the inspiration comes into play. It’s not back there with the facts and figures. Instead, the inspiring happens with the conversational tone, the gestures, the stories. Your stories! The stories are where the connections happen, and that might be the best reason yet to reveal your personality as a leader.


Know your audience.

July 8, 2008

OK, this seems a little like common sense, but recent events at work suggest otherwise… so here goes. Take a little time to figure out who your audience is, will ya? This is not difficult really, only costs a few minutes of your time and means EVERYTHING in terms of how you craft your message. (Because — um, hello! — how are you going to know what to say if you don’t understand to whom you’re saying it?) Think about:

  • Who cares about this subject? (Identify specific groups, committees, departments, project teams, etc.)
  • What are their demographics? (In other words, are they men or women? How old are they? Where do they live?)
  • What makes them tick? (What are their values? What’s important to them? Consider political leanings, environmental perspectives and their understanding of technology, among other things.)
  • Why do they care? (What are they getting out of it? It always comes back to the WIIFM — What’s In It For Me?)

So, here’s a hypothetical: Your employer establishes a new “quiet room” for employees. It can be used as an infirmary, but its main intent is for lactating mothers. You certainly could send out one blanket communication to all employees. But would you get more bang for your buck if you created a special message for the lactating mothers, highlighting the room’s features and guidelines? If you take a minute to think about this segment of your audience, you realize they are going to be concerned about safety, privacy and whether the room will be open when they need it. If you know those are the concerns, your message might pay special attention to the lock on the door, the “in use” sign and the scheduling policies. See what I’m getting at here?

All I’m suggesting is that when we consider our audience FIRST in everything we write and communicate, we can predict what will be important and where to concentrate our efforts. We can also anticipate when a message won’t go over so well. We see little indicators of sensitivity and overhear exchanges that help us anticipate problems. And — here’s the key — we apply them in advance so we effectively address those problems from the outset. Our messages can always benefit from the kind of thinking that yields insights about the audience in question.