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How to Speak so Your Team Will Listen

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How to Speak so Your Team Will Listen

Not only listen, but take action, too.
 

Team communication should be very important to all leaders. Whether speaking to a large group or a small team, there are ways you can engage with your ‘audience’ so that they will not just hear you but actively listen and even take action on what you’re telling them. It’s an art form, really.

Motivating positive reactions versus acting from a place of fear, or worse, disdain. It’s an important skill for leaders to master in order to be effective with their team.

Be genuine and be present
 

No matter the size of the group, if you speak to all them as if you were speaking to one of them, you’re more likely to get a positive response. It’s not an easy thing to do at first, and will require some practice, but doing it will reap many rewards.

Appearing genuine and human is essential for people to want to take in what you’re saying and, further, act on it. That really only comes if each person in the audience feels as though you are speaking directly to them. Putting on the ‘big shot’ persona isn’t appealing and doesn’t invite others to act on your words. Be real.

Being present is also important: eye contact for smaller groups, body language that is open and receptive, focusing on what is happening in the moment and not fidgeting, fussing or, worst, looking at a phone. The audience needs to feel that, in that moment, you are 100% there for the message and for them.

Listen—actually listen—to the feedback
 

Feedback isn’t always verbal. Take non-verbal cues from your audience into account when you are speaking with them. You need to be able to adjust what you’re saying on the fly, so that you don’t lose the audience and you remain connected to them.

Someone who feels they need to say everything they had on their agenda, regardless of how it’s received, simply to ‘make their point’, isn’t communicating effectively. If you’re looking for feedback or an actual dialogue on the subject, you’ll know that you’re not reaching your audience when they tune you out or don’t ask any meaningful questions.

Further to the last point, you should always be looking to create that dialogue. Communicating to create action is not a one way street: it’s not command it, and it will happen. People simply don’t respond to that kind of demagogue like speechmaking.

Focus on the WHY, not the WHAT
 

When you want people to act on what you’re saying, you have to give them the motivation and, to some extent, that feeling is more important than the acts themselves. Look at it like storytelling: if you tell a group WHY you’re passionate about a new process that you want to put in place, and not just THAT you want to put it in place, you will develop buy in from your audience far more quickly and effectively.

If you start with just the fact of a change that you want them to engage in, you’re putting walls and barriers for those who might be reluctant followers before you’ve even begun. If you start with the why, your motivation, your passion… you will get far more people nodding along with you, understanding your thought process and wanting to run with it on your behalf.

The reality is, most people aren’t born communicators. The skills needed to reach an audience and compel them to action are learned. It’s a major effort for most people but it’s worth every moment spent acquiring the skills and practicing them because communication and leadership are synonymous. You really can’t have one without the other.

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