Communication is and always will be a cornerstone of growth. The better we are at sharing our messages with others, the more aligned we are to our most meaningful work. Last week, the National Speaker Association (NSA) held its annual conference called Influence in Dallas. This was a gathering of more than 1,400 people looking to expand their capacity to communicate.
As a professional speaker to corporate audiences on fast-growth and the evolution of leadership, I attended Influence to evolve as a professional speaker and become a better communicator no matter the size of the audience.
The path to being a better communicator requires us to let go of bad habits. Many times, it is not learning something new, but being reminded of something that we know deep inside us. However, we have often forgotten it along the journey. Communication does not have to be from the stage in front of thousands or even in a boardroom to a few. Improving your communication will help you in your one-on-one conversations too.
Here are some examples of how you can go beyond your current communication skills and learn from NSA's newest Hall of Fame Professional Speakers. They each received their CPAE (Council of Peers Award for Excellence) designation last week.
1. Be Intentional With Your Body
When you aim to communicate with more influence, you must look beyond the words that are coming out of your mouth. In other words, you have to be intentional to how your body shows up so that it aligns with the message you are saying.
Lenora Billings-Harris, CSP, CPAE speaks about diversity and inclusion with such grace and is author of the third edition of The Diversity Advantage. In talking with her, she said, "Effective communication is so much more than just the words. Is your body language congruent with your message?"
2. Be Careful in Measuring Impact
Scott Stratten, CPAE, and his wife Allison Stratten are co-authors of five bestselling business books. Stratten (the speaker) talks to corporate audiences about marketing and disruption with a direct, humorous style.
Stratten says, "Don't fall prey to the vanity numbers of likes and views that are often talked about in marketing." He shared a video he created about millennials that got more 13 million views on Facebook. He showed the numbers behind the vanity to reveal that just 3.4 million had watched it for more than 10 seconds with the sound on (videos automatically start with the sound off). In contrast, Stratten created a different video that got about 40,000 views and resulted in 14 high quality enquiries.
The lesson here is that impact is not based on vanity metrics. Impact is only based on impact. When you speak and aim to move people into action, you have to measure the action.
3. Be Different
To improve your communication, you must look for areas that allow you to be seen as different in a sea of sameness. It is not about fitting in -- it's about standing out.
Jay Baer, CSP, CPAE, is a New York bestselling author of six books. Baer's domain expertise is in marketing and customer service. Baer shared a message about the courage to be different. It is a simple thought that "same is lame," according to Baer. He lives this with is trademark plaid suits that make him stand out and a book that encourages people to Hug Your Haters.
Communication of a message that is taken as unique will lead to increased sharing of the message as well as increased willingness by the audience to take action on that message.
4. Be Unapologetically You
Many people want to model others they see that are good communicators. They will mimic their style and even their gestures. But to improve your own communication, you must be able to be authentically you.
Marilyn Sherman, CSP, CPAE, speaks with corporate audiences on how to get a front-row seat in life and author of Is There A Hole In Your Bucket List?. "I don't try to be like any other speaker," she says. "I try to learn from the best, then be the best version of myself. I don't strive for perfection. I strive for being of value, making sure what I have to say is of value to my audience."
5. Be a Giver, Not a Taker
If you want to improve your communication skills, take every chance to consider your audience. Where are they with the subject or issue? Do your best to focus on the listener -- not you.
Bob Burg, CPAE, is the co-author of Wall Street Journal bestseller The Go-Giver. Burg sees opportunity in serving others around us by communicating with more intention on others. "When moving from an 'I' or 'me' focus to an 'other' focus -- that is when we shine," he says.
Each of these amazing communicators has worked hard on their craft, and they are among less than 200 living Hall of Fame speakers. Their insights on being a better communicator are timeless.