What makes a great communicator?
In November of 2001, I had the treasured opportunity to listen to Nelson Mandela speak at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, SA. It was a business conference on Excellence and Quality in South African industry sectors.
These are four things I remember about that memorable experience:
1) It took former President Nelson Mandela about a minute and half to get from one side of the stage to the other with his walking stick; whilst we welcomed him to a ‘standing ovation’
2) That he spoke for twenty-five minutes or so. And, time seemed short.
3) That I did not take particular note of much of what he said, because I was in awe of being in his presence
4) That he walked off stage to another standing ovation whilst all admired and relished his attendance.
He was not your stereotype “motivational speaker”: the kind with great energy, eloquence, accentuated body language and emotion. He had none of what Stephen Covey talks about as the “personality ethic”… the stuff on the outside. He had “character ethic”… the stuff on the inside; and a noble reputation admittedly.
If we could liken leaves and branches to “personality ethic” and roots to “character ethic”, we could suggest that no matter how leaves and branches may appear, that could not compensate in the long run for poor roots.
I believe that people can feel the goodness, genuineness and sincerity of another. It surpasses technique, behaviour and skills. Although very important, and complimentary for successful delivery and presentation, skills can be learned. Character is developed and carved through effort, consistency and discipline. Skill can be practiced and habituated.
“What you are shouts so loud, I cannot hear what you are saying” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Be more concerned with you character than you are with your reputation, because your character is who you are whilst your reputation is what others think you are” – Anonymous
So what makes a great communicator?
1) Character: sincerity, genuineness, authenticity, being an example, good value system and integrity
2) Personality: engaging, real, able to connect with your audience, humour, positive body language, craft, uniqueness
3) Reputation: what others say does matter. It weighs in your favour or against you. Your character will always serve to correct or prove your reputation
4) Intent and Motive: Is there purity in what you wish to part? Is your true reasons to share to outwardly impress or inwardly express?
“The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.” – Peter F. Drucker
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