It’s easy to forget, in a world that seems increasingly dominated by big government and big corporations, that people still matter.
In fact, as renowned thought leader Marc Stoiber suggests in this brief article in CareerBright, anyone desiring to make things happen these days, whether he or she is at the helm of a country, a huge corporation or a small non-profit, needs to be able to inspire and motivate by zeroing in on the essence of things — by articulating, clearly, concisely, and powerfully, what really matters.
Sounds simple, right? So it is — ah, but like dancing the Funky Chicken, it’s not easy!
People don’t trust organizations. People trust people.
Sure, folks have always been a bit skeptical about the motives of big corporations. But doozies like VW, Turing, Enron and BP have given any whiff of vestigial consumer trust in bigco’s the heave ho.
I believe that’s why advertising is being regarded with more cynicism than ever before. And why more and more business leaders are trying to position themselves as thought leaders. They know people need people to believe in.
If you’re running a company, you are the de facto brand. As a brand, you need to craft the impression you want to leave. Or the haters will do it for you.
That’s why you need a speech.
No, I’m not advocating you get up on the stump and start espousing your greatness / humble beginnings / obstacles conquered. But in the words of a great former boss, you need to own your story.
This is critical, even if you’re a student looking for your first job. It only becomes more important as you rise up the ranks and make decisions that can be seen from a number of angles. How can you explain what you did in a way that reinforces your trustworthy character? How can you become someone that people ‘get’?
If you haven’t thought about your story, here’s a tip. Think JFK, MLK, Gandhi…don’t think bulletpoints on a slideshow.
Great speakers create confidence and trust by sticking to big ideas. JFK wanted to send a man to the moon – he didn’t mention how. MLK had a dream – he didn’t go into an executional timeline.
So what’s your big idea? And can you express it over a coffee (without sounding like a timeshare salesman), or write it on a napkin? Is it simple, surprising, and captivating? And do you have a few good stories to illustrate why it’s true and trustworthy?
If you don’t have a speech yet, start writing one. Chances are, you’ll never get it ‘right’ – there is no right in this game. But at the very least, you’ll be able to express the thoughts that make you a leader.
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