In an exclusive interview, HRD
asked Bowden about the basics of communication and why employers should be trying to improve their current skills.
HRD: Why is it so important that a business leader be able to address an audience effectively?
MB: We all make important judgments about the leaders around us based on their performance under pressure. We all know that public speaking and presentation can be a huge pressure. Therefore we pay special attention to how our leaders perform when speaking to a crowd. We want to know if they can take the heat!
HRD: What would you say are the three most important steps to communicating effectively?
MB: Make a choice. Make it bigger. Keep it tidy.
What I mean by this is decide the one thing you really need to get across. Amplify that idea so that it is very, very clear. Don’t then add anything else to it and muddy it up.
HRD: What makes your advice and approach to communication effective across multiple channels?
MB: My approach to leadership communication uses an understanding of the science of how we all process messages into stories and those stories into behaviour.
When this is used alongside the understanding I bring in the art of performance it creates a huge advantage for any leader. Simple to execute and powerful on any audience.
HRD: What’s the worst thing a HR professional can do when communicating with employees?
MB: A business leader must understand that there is a power differential between themselves and the employees that can cause those employees to act like the leader is connecting, ie people who are in some way actually or implicitly dependent on you can unconsciously pretend to listen and agree with you. But this does not mean they are actually
engaged! It is easy for a business leader to think they are a great communicator because they get fantastic feedback.
Don’t believe your own hype!
HRD: What are the most common mistakes you see managers making when it comes to addressing an audience?
MB: They are too casual in their attitude. They don’t bring the energy, skill and preparation needed to really connect with an audience. Their position affords them a feeling of power which can blind them to the work that really needs to be done if they want to lead, motivate and inspire an organisation with their messages.
Recognise: it takes some extra skill to stand out, win trust and gain credibility every time you speak. But that extra skill can be learned, and learned fast!
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Truthplane CEO Mark Bowden is an internationally renowned communications expert who claims well-crafted interactions can help business leaders set themselves apart, win employee trust and generate profit.