Great moments are, by definition, exciting. Like diamonds, they sparkle. If you think about it, each and every one of us have moments in everyday life – an important conversation held, a tough decision taken or perhaps a point of realisation. Such experiences are critically important because they trigger change, and shape the way we think, feel and act in the workplace.
Add storytelling to your leadership toolkit
When it comes to leadership communication, the spoken word is a fundamentally different medium from the written word. Simply banging up bullet points on a slide and reading through them is, as we know, rarely a compelling proposition for an audience.
By contrast, stories are.
Storytelling skills are – or at least should be – a vital component of any leader’s communication toolkit, whether they’re a business executive, a politician, a teacher, an academic, preacher or a professional speaker. Effective storytelling provides a narrative, generates suspense and imposes a need and desire on the listener to know how the story ends.
If stories are the gold of an effective presentation, think of great moments as the gemstones – the point of maximum drama, where the eventual outcome of the story is determined and where the meaning and true value of the story is unlocked. They offer perhaps the single most potent resource for any communicator. Yet so often, the true power of these gems lies buried, hidden and untapped.
Engaging others: harness the power of the moment
In the excellent book Made To Stick, Chip and Dan Heath speak of “the curse of knowledge” – the curious truth that as soon as you know something well, it becomes all-but-impossible to appreciate what it must be like to not know it. This perhaps helps to explain some of the communication challenges confronted by IT professionals.
The same is true when it comes to our own personal experience. Too often, I’ve seen the curse afflict senior leaders when stepping forward to engage the hearts and minds of an audience, only to undersell their message. Perhaps they failed to emotionally connect with their material; perhaps they glossed over some critically important detail; or perhaps they were just plain dull.
Harnessing the power of the moment offers one way to break that curse. Call them case studies, anecdotes, examples or just plain old stories, but pinpointing the great moment of that particular narrative can be enormously powerful. It’s the point in the story at which the critical decision was taken, the crucially important conversation was held. And the more laser-like you can be in articulating the precise details of that moment, the better. What exactly was said? Who was there? What was the reaction?
Illustrate the moment & draw on personal experience
Painting pictures to illustrate that moment as vividly as possible brings a number of benefits. If you’re presenting to an audience, you’ll be far more engaging. You’re also assured greater credibility by being so specific.
Finally, if drawing on personal experience, you’ll find yourself almost reliving the experience – your concerns, hopes, fears and joys. Far more vivid for the audience and guaranteed to ensure you are more emotionally connected to your material.
Keep an eye out for the great moments in your own life. They offer an important key to winning the hearts and minds of others.