Improving credibility via communication

The man was presenting something like a top-ten list of lessons learned. I think it was 10 lessons, but I don’t really know. It might have been 7 lessons, or 12 lessons. It was a breakout session and the speaker oozed nervousness.

Sometimes the “tell” of nervousness is a shaky voice or shaky hands, and but many times nervousness manifests differently. When we are presenting, the typical tack for nervousness to escape our body is through our mouth. We speed up. We don’t provide enough inflection. We run our sentences together. We say things and then think to ourselves in real time, “did I just say that out loud?”

If I were nicer I would tell you that it’s perfectly natural and people will forgive any inadequacy. That would be doing you a disservice. I am not in the disservice business.

Presenting is a key skill for leaders. It’s something to take seriously. People view a leader’s credibility primarily via the ability to communicate. Full stop. And communication is something none of us are born knowing how to do. It’s a skill.

The nervous man had our attention, and he had good content. The problem was that his lack of skill dimmed our experience and prevented the material from landing.

Nervousness can’t be eliminated, but it can be blunted by improving our skill.

by Jonathan Wilson

Jonathan is the Head Coach at Sandcastle Company, a Seattle-based leadership training organization. His first book, Future Leader: Rebooting Leadership to Win the Millennial and Tech Future [link], is now available. Jonathan regularly writes and speaks about The New Leader Way, leadership resilience, and the future of work. He has years of leadership experience in both the public and private sectors, a master's degree from Seattle University, and professional coach training from the University of Miami.

Filed under: Leadership

Published on June 19, 2019

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