One of the key ways to develop your executive presence and enhance your leadership skill is to become a powerful communicator. You want to be able to inspire your colleagues or team with clarity and confidence. It’s one of the most critical ingredients for getting your point across and managing your agenda with peers and senior leadership, as well as with clients and partners.
Here are 5 tips to communicate with power from Anne Ricketts, Founder of Lighthouse Communications:
1. Respond, Don’t React.
Before you communicate, whether in an email or a reply to feedback someone just gave you, take a deep breath and think about what you want to say before you start to speak or write a reply. A mindful breath and pause will allow you the space to respond, not react. This is important for everyone, especially as we're all overwhelmed and everything’s moving so fast. A small break, and a short breath before you communicate, goes a long way to ensure that you are communicating with power and not just reacting in a way that you may later regret.
2. Get to Your Point.
One of the biggest communication challenges people face is that they take too long to get to their point. And the harsh reality is that when women do this, they often get interrupted — more than our male counterparts. If you want to decrease the amount that you get interrupted, learn to be concise. Here are 2 frameworks to help with this:
- PRE (Point, Reason, Example): What’s your point? Why is it important? What’s an example?
- What? So What? Now What?: What’s your point? Why is it important? What should we do as a result? What’s the next step?
3. Take Up Space.
Unfortunately, women are told their whole lives to make themselves smaller. Think about it: We sit with our legs crossed. We fold our arms. We literally fold into ourselves. We need to be conscious of this, and learn to take up more space. When you want to project confidence, stand with your legs shoulder-width apart, move around the room, and have open gestures. Research shows that there’s a connection between confident body language and actually feeling confident. Also, think about taking up space with your voice. Have a nice strong volume. One thing you can do is to stand up when you present. You’re going to be above everyone. And you’re going to command more attention that way.
4. Don’t Discount Yourself With Apologies or Disclaimers.
Common things you probably hear in the workplace all the time are, ‘I don’t really like presenting,’ ‘Let me run through this quickly before I bore you,’ and ‘Sorry, but I have something to say.' Don’t apologise for yourself.
Instead say, 'I have something to add; when would be a good time to talk?' It’s a small thing, but apologising can communicate that you’re not confident. An easy way to decrease apologies or disclaimers is to tell coworkers or a friend that you’re working on improving in this area and ask for their feedback. Having others hold you accountable for it will make you more aware of when you’re apologising unnecessarily and help you break the pattern.
5. Avoid Uptalk.
Uptalk is when you finish your sentence as if it’s a question with a rising intonation, which communicates to others that you’re not confident in what you’re saying. There’s a big difference in the sense of confidence and credibility you project when you avoid uptalk. Focus on emphasising words within the sentence, instead of at the end.
Hopefully you find these 5 tools helpful in making you a more powerful communicator. They are simple tools which take a little bit of awareness and a little bit of practice, but before long, you’ll notice positive changes in your communication skills.