The Speech Wiz introduces “The ABC' of Executive Speaking”: Clarity

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"Clarity affords focus."
Thomas Leonard

In my last post, I followed my discussion of the “A” of the “ABC’s of Executive Speaking” framework– Authenticity with an examination of the “B” of the “ABC’s” – Brevity. In this post I will cover the “C” of  the “ABC’s”– Clarity.

CLARITY

Thomas Leonard, one of the founding leaders of the executive coaching industry said, “Clarity affords focus.” For speaking executives this is doubly true. Clarity brings greater focus to what the speaker will say and a greater understanding by the audience of the content that it hears.

But Clarity is a slippery eel for many speakers. Because many executive speakers are also subject matter experts, it is difficult for them to parse out the “noise” that occasionally interferes with the content they are presenting. Achieving Clarity as a speakers means your content must be:

  • Coherent

  • Intelligent and

  • Transparent.

Let’s take a look at each of these qualities.

COHERENT

Being a Coherent speaker is the number one speaking behavior where most executive speakers first lose their audiences. Being Coherent is the act of uniting or forming as a whole an idea or action. When you speak as an executive, your audience relies heavily on your ability to design and refine your content and then opine it effectively. You must be logical and clear in everything you say. Your thoughts must be connected in a way in which the words you say create an image of what you want the audience to absorb or act upon. You cannot obfuscate, hem, haw or otherwise confuse your audience by meandering from idea to idea without some sort of logical pattern. A coherent speaker is a trusted speaker. Just ask any audience.

INTELLIGENT

Intelligence in the executive speaking world can be defined as having Certainty. Certainty is a quality of knowledge about a fact of which there is no doubt.

In an article from the job board, The Ladderstitled “8 Things that Set Truly Confident People Apart”, number 4 on the list was “They speak with certainty.” Here is an quote from that article:

“Confident people speak assertively because they know that it’s difficult to get people to listen to you if you can’t deliver your ideas with conviction.”

Conviction is a level of belief, faith and trust that you develop, as a speaker, from having done the background work, verified the research, and integrated the knowledge you’ve gained into your speaking essence. While content can be borrowed, its delivery should never be faked. Doing so would violate all the elements of being an Authentic speaker (the “A” of The ABC’s of Executive Speaking). Giving a speech prepared by another person is like taking a ten-mile hike in some else’s shoes; you may get into them, but the fit is awkward and over time will produce painful blisters.

I witnessed this happening when I saw two gentleman attempt to deliver a long form presentation created by another person who asked them to step in at the last minute to cover for him. The longer they went on the less intelligent they sounded and the more restless the audience became waiting for them to reach their painful conclusion.

The lack of a speaker’s intelligence is most quickly revealed when they begin to demonstrate a lack of knowledge of their content material.

TRANSPARENT

A Transparent speaker is a Confident speaker. Transparency is in demand these days from every source, authority, and organization. Speakers are not exempt. In fact, speakers must be the standard bearers of communication transparency. By virtue of the public nature of speaking, all speakers including executive speakers, must be confident enough in their content to allow themselves to be open to the public scrutiny of transparency.

Since, as speakers, we hold ourselves to a higher standard, this should not be an issue of concern. Speakers acceptthe unwritten code that “we will do no harm to our audience”. This means, as an executive speaker, you will not knowingly mislead your audience through the purposeful delivery of a misstatement of facts or events. It means that you hold your audience in a higher esteem than you hold yourself.

There can be no other way for you to establish the trust of your audience. After all, their faith in you as a leader rests upon the trustworthiness of what you say.

THE CASE FOR CLARITY

It should be easy for you to see that, as an executive, whenever you speak Clarity is your greatest ally in both getting your point out and getting it across. Listeners respond most favorably to speakers with clear, logical, easy to process language that supports the purpose of their speech.

The primary role of communication is to allow people to connect. It does no one any good if the connection is unclear, muddied by incoherent, unintelligent, and cloudy speech. To be effective, think about becoming a master of Clarity committed to delivering one great Coherent, Intelligent, and Transparent speech after another.

Thanks for your support as a reader of my blog and I eagerly welcome any comments on how you’re thinking about achieving the possibility of your promise. Also, I would appreciate any suggestions you might have for future posts in this blog on a topic near and dear to you in the comments section below. As always, please feel free to share this post with a friend or colleague.

To Your Speaking Success.
The Speech Wiz