Monday, May 9, 2016

The Best of the Best

Last week I attended two different leadership conferences (Regroup and Leader Cast) which included talks from eight different public speakers.  Some of the speakers are known for their communication skills (Andy Stanley) others are known for their leadership in another profession (SEC football coach, psychologist, successful business woman, etc).  

I thought it would be helpful to break down the qualities of the most successful messages and ask the question: what did they have in common?

Here's five qualities I ended up with:

1. Clarity

2. Simplicity

3. Content (including illustrations/stories)

4. Humor

5. Preparation

The two most noteworthy communicators were Andy Stanley and Clay Scroggins (and I'm not just saying that because they are both preachers).  

I'm going to use these 5 qualities to unpack the difference between the messages of Andy Stanley and Nick Saban at Leadercast.  

In case you don't know, Nick Saban is the head football coach at Alabama and he's one of the most successful college football coaches ever. However, the three of us who attended the conference agreed that he was not a very effective communicator.  

I know comparing the message of a professional communicator and a professional football coach is a bit like comparing apples to oranges, however, it helps me improve as a communicator when I think about the differences in their talks, so here it goes:

1. Clarity
-Andy was absolutely clear and on point from the beginning of his message to the end.  Everyone knew he was talking about "making vision stick."

-Nick talked about being a winner and discipline and teamwork and intensity and work...all good things, there just wasn't clarity/focus around any single one.

2. Simplicity
-Andy's point throughout his message was (in my own words) "a clear vision is important" and he unpacked "why."

-Nick's point was all over the place.  He had some decent one liners like "work isn't about spending time, it's about investing time" but I couldn't tell you his main point.

3. Content
-Andy's content incorporated personal stories, cultural stories, visual aids, memorable one liner's and an easy to follow flow.

-I will say that Nick had some pretty good content, it just wasn't organized in way that was easy to receive.  

4. Humor
-Andy is not a comedian and I don't actually remember laughing much in this particular talk, but I don't remember laughing at all while listening to Nick Saban.

5. Preparation
-While neither Andy nor Nick used notes (that we could see), Andy's preparation had an easy to follow flow and included slides that helped make his message stick.  It seemed as though Nick was "shooting from the hip" regarding what he's learned about leadership as a head coach.


I am now thinking about how others would evaluate my messages using these five qualities.  It's one thing to evaluate myself, but what if I actually invited others to evaluate me as well.  I think this blog has encouraged me to find a couple of people I trust to evaluate me so that I can improve as a communicator.

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