Comments Off on The most inspiring leaders do these 10 things when they speak

Leadership and communication go hand-in-hand. So particularly inspiring leaders are, by default, also outstanding communicators.
“Leadership is about having a vision and communicating it effectively. Managers get their employees to achieve a task in the most efficient way possible. Leaders also do that, but they get people to do something because they want to do it — not because they must do it,” says executive coach and leadership expert Ian MacFarlane.
“Leaders awaken intrinsic motivation, and to do that, their powers of persuasion must be top-notch. They must resonate with and read their audience, whether it be an individual or a large group.”
So what are some communication habits that differentiate average leaders from exceptional ones? We asked MacFarlane, who spent over three decades as a leader in the financial services and fintech industries, to share his wisdom on the topic.
From leveraging empathy and storytelling to being aware of their body language while remaining genuine, the most inspiring leaders do the 10 following things when they speak. Adopt their practices and you’ll soon be looked up to for your leadership.
1. They have a positive core message and a flow
In order to convey a message effectively, you have to be certain about its core points.
Then, you want to make sure to deliver your points in a structured and logical manner, which includes smooth transitions and moments of re-emphasis to avoid losing your audience. The last touch is all about keeping things positive and uplifting to leave a long-lasting impression.
“Research has shown that credibility is enhanced when a message is fluent, optimistic, and periodically re-emphasizes key points. Spend time getting your speech to flow fluently,” says MacFarlane.
“While you want to be spontaneous, you can never prepare enough. Nobody wants to be left depressed. Moreover, do not be afraid to periodically refresh your audience’s memory to keep them with the flow.”
2. They use empathetic listening
Any leadership or communications expert will tell you that listening is as important — if not more — as talking. And the most inspiring leaders add a layer of empathy to their listening skills.
“Empathetic listening is an integral part of communication. When you are present in the moment with someone, you are providing an opportunity to make their dreams and concerns known. That will invariably help you to hone your message to resonate with them.”
3. They state their case concisely and effectively
Inspiring leaders may be empathetic, but they also mean business. They are able to make a case fast and effectively and aim to be both convincing and concise. And they know that in our era of information overload, the first minute is crucial to keep someone engaged, according to MacFarlane.
“The central part of your speech is necessary for credibility. Provide a few points of detail to back your case. Finally, repeat the message. In memory-recall experiments, participants typically remember what was said last and first. The recall of a speech’s central body is usually hazy, beyond giving a general impression of the validity of your content.”
4. They tell stories
Inspiring leaders are storytellers. This is why people listen to them when they speak and remember their impact, even if they don’t remember everything that was said. So if you want to sound mediocre, stick to straight facts. If you want to inspire, tell stories.
“Humans respond to narratives rather than a series of facts. It makes you more relatable and speaks to everyday experiences,” says MacFarlane.
5. They use hooks
On that note, if you start paying attention to the leaders you look up to in action, you might notice that they use specific storytelling tactics such as hooking their audience into whatever they’re going to share.
Wanna try it out for yourself? “Start with an unusual and unusual fact that your audience can use at a cocktail party or chatting with a friend. Alternatively, ask a question and tease them that you will answer it later.”
6. They vary the pitch of their voice
“When you are excited about something, let your listeners hear it in your voice. Nothing is worse than a monotone delivery with no emphasis on your essential points,” says MacFarlane.
Super inspiring leaders infuse their speeches with passion and emotion, painting a picture that extends far beyond the tangible and tugs on the heartstrings of their audience. They let their enthusiasm shine through their words and emphasize their message.
7. They hold eye contact
MacFarlane says the most inspiring leaders not only hold eye contact, but they are also very deliberate about who they look at:
“Whether it is a one-on-one conversation in person, in Zoom meetings, or a public forum in front of a large audience, making eye contact is essential. It can increase trust. If you are in a public forum and are nervous, look for a friendly face that acknowledges your message’s validity.”
“Or suppose you are a leader in front of a large group of employees. In that case, you could increase inclusion by making a deliberate attempt to scan the audience, ensuring you make eye contact with the most junior people.”
8. They leverage body language
“An open, relaxed stance with some appropriate smiling never goes amiss,” says MacFarlane. Inspiring leaders project inspiring non-verbal cues. They don’t necessarily have to actively think of their body language to leverage its power, but they’re so in touch with themselves and used to projecting confidence that it kind of happens organically.
9. They don’t overtalk
It turns out less is more when it comes to speaking in an inspiring way, says MacFarlane:
“Brevity is the soul of wit. Do not drone on. Attention is difficult to attain and even harder to maintain. The best speeches are short, concise, and to the point. If the audience wants more detailed information, let them ask for it. Telling them you will limit your remarks to a particular time to maximize time for questions is always a good strategy.”
10. They stay true to themselves
There are excellent communicators and leaders who are overly polished and disingenuous, but the truly charismatic and memorable ones have an authentic quality about them. It’s not about aiming to be charismatic but staying connected to your own values and beliefs. And if you think you have to be perfect to be inspiring, think twice. Leaders who inspire trust are not afraid to admit when they don’t know something.
“You do not want them to lose confidence in you, but you might want to tell them what your strengths and vision are and how you look to others in the team to compensate for what you do not know,” says MacFarlane.
“Leaders are courageous and optimistic and dare others to join them to reach a specific objective. They have a good sense of what is within their control and do not waste time worrying about what they cannot influence. Above all, they are true to themselves.”

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