The institute of public speaking is a Boston based international public speaking training organization. We live and breath educating others on the skills of public speaking, leadership and communication.
Like many areas of scientific study, EI or Emotional Intelligence has its detractors. EI is the capacity of individuals to recognize their own emotions and those of others, discern between different feelings and label them appropriately, use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior, and manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt to environments or achieve one’s or an organizational goal(s). Here we’ll explore some of the common misconceptions about emotional intelligent leader and how these are more based in myth and conjecture, than scientific fact. Let us explore some of these common misconceptions:
Many detractors of EI erroneously assume that emotionally intelligent leaders lack the ability to be assertive. A common inaccurate assumption that EI leaders are ‘wishy washy’ and simply want to placate others. This assumption is patently false. The emotionally intelligent leader seeks to understand both others and himself and has no issue asserting in a positive way – where ever it is required. Being emotionally intelligent doesn’t equate with being a push over or lacking the skill of assertiveness.
Many detractors of Emotional Intelligence claim the EI produces a state of self absorption. This misconception shows a deep misunderstanding of what EI truly entails. The emotional intelligent leader isn’t stuck in her own head when engaging with the world but rather able to understand the need/wants of the world around them and observe (in an unbiased way) the workings of their own experience. By definition, someone who practice EI is the opposite of self absorbed. They are able to observe the self and respectfully connect with the other as equals.
EI Leaders are Born with it
Many criticize proponents of EI because they believe we are ether born with it or not. EI like most skills is one we can learn and improve upon through out life. As most scientists recognize, people are the sum of nature (genes) and nurture (environment), in an interactive system. If we practice the fundamentals of the EI, we are better leaders, but this is born out of conscious effort and practice – not genes.
Lacking Conflict Resolution Skills
Another assumption of the EI leader is ‘too nice’ and thus unwilling to deal with conflict or difficult issues. Leaders with EI skills are quite capable of dealing with conflict because of their ability to listen, connect without bias to the issues at hand and resolve them. EI leaders see conflict as an opportunity to resolve an ongoing issue. They don’t cower in the face of conflict but embrace it and more importantly resolve it.
Emotions Don’t Belong in the Workplace
Many that criticize the science of EI assert that emotions don’t belong in the workplace. They assume that emotions only belong in our interpersonal relationships. They miss that work relationships are interpersonal by their very nature. These detractors of EI leadership fail to understand that successful work relationships are founded upon the same fundamentals as interpersonal ones. Relationships based upon mutual respect, dignity and shared values produce better outcomes. The EI leader is both aware of her emotions and those of the other. They understand how they feel and how to interpret these experiences, this leads to better connections with their coworkers.
Some of the most vocal detractors to the science behind EI leadership fundamentally lack understanding of its science, intention and practice. I’m not among those who assert EI trumps IQ or other skills, but it is a critical intelligence for all of us to foster and develop. Doubtless a leader with emotional intelligence is better than one without it. Emotional intelligence along side other intelligences makes better leaders. They are better at navigating their inner and outer world. They can solve workplace interpersonal (& organizational) conflicts more effectively, build teams that are highly functional and productive and create an environment that encourages innovation. These are but a few of the many strengths of the EI leader. In our next post, we’ll further explore the powerful benefits that EI brings to leadership. So be gone the myths, let’s focus on the facts. EI is a powerful tool among many skills a leader needs to enable business outcomes everyone can be proud of. Please do check out our related posts on Emotional Intelligence for even more details and infographics.
Beginning public speakers often fail to realize the importance of time management. Often, they don’t realize the amount of content they will deliver should be carefully considered to match their allotted speaking time. Most novice speakers think if they have 1 hour they need to develop 2 hours of content in case they have’ extra time’. They forget that the core message they’d like to deliver is more important than covering every possible detail. Unfortunately for those that don’t practice time management in their speeches this leads to less than positive speaking outcomes. Let’s explore through the following examples:
The ‘data dump’ is the type of speech were the presenter gives you every conceivable tidbit of information in their speech topic. These sorts of speeches are often accompanied by 100’s of PowerPoint slides filled with vast amounts of information. If the speaker doesn’t spend the time to really work on the fundamental message they intent to deliver – this is a common occurrence. Instead, early in our speech writing process we should condense and focus our message and its call to action.
Every Minute Accounted For
Some speakers also make the timing mistake of accounting for every minute of their speech of their delivery. They forget that a speech without audience involvement is less than optimal. If we don’t leave space in our talk of 15-20% of our time to engage with the audience – we miss out on a vital opportunity to truly connect with them. Instead, we should plan for some time in every speech dedicated to the sole purpose of audience interaction and connection.
Death by PowerPoint
Modern technology is great but it can have a downside for speakers and leaders. PowerPoint, Prezi and Apple Keynote can be powerful tools to augment your speech if used properly. We once worked with a public speaking coaching student who came to us with over 200 slide he intended to deliver in a single 20-minute presentation. In reviewing his speech and PowerPoint it was easy to see he had packed too much information into too short a span of time. His message wasn’t clear in his mind and it certainly wouldn’t be in the mind of the audience. Instead we should focus and condense our message and use technology ONLY in a supporting role.
There are too many public speaking timing challenges to list so instead we will focus on the things you should practice to improve your speaking timing.
Hone Your Message
Take the bird’s-eye view of your message. What is your key takeaway or point. Focus on this critical core message. Are you able to articulate it in a single sentence? Do you have a clear, concise understanding of what you’ll cover in your talk? Do you know what your key takeaway or call to action is? You should have defined all of these things and articulate them directly in your speech.
Brevity is a powerful tool in accurate speech delivery. If you have an hour speech, plan for 40 minutes of content and a solid 10-15 minutes of questions and audience interaction. Keep it short and simple and your audience will love you for it.
Simplify your message so ALL your audience can connect with it. Many speakers are extremely knowledgeable about a subject and fail prey to wanting to give audiences way too much complex information which takes away from their central point.
Practice Your Timing
Practice is a most overlooked skill in public speaking. Beginning speakers fail to realize that practicing is a critical element to public speaking success. It is optimal to practice while recording ourselves in front of a smartphone or webcam. You can be more aware of your timing by practicing with a timer, clock or time app on your smartphone. We can then know how well we are doing with timing our speech.
Leave Space for Question
Who is the most important person in the room at your speeches? If you answer anything other than your audience – you are incorrect. The audience is the most critical element of your speech and your message should connect with them on multiple levels. Acknowledging this highlights the need for you to leave space in your speeches for audience interaction, questions and insights they may share during your speech.
No audience ever has complained about a speaker finishing early or on time. Audience members might be perturbed with us ‘going over’ or extending our time beyond its originally allotted time. If we put ourselves in the audience shoes, we realize finishing early or on time shows we planned our message well and delivered it in a way that respected the time we were given – no more, no less.
Timing is vital for everyone from the seasoned public speaker to the novice one. Each of us as speakers should hone our message, practice brevity, simplicity for maximum impact. When we plan the timing of our speech and practice it, we are more effective speakers. What are some of your public speaking or leadership challenges? Have you ever had an issue timing your speech or presentation? Feel free to leave a question or comment below and we’ll explore it further.
Ever wondered how to close a speech? Not to worry, we’ve got you covered. Closing your speech with confidence, vigor and enthusiasm can mean the difference between a powerful impression or the lack there of. Many speeches fall flat due to their final lackluster close. Just like a speech intro cements the perception of the speaker (and her message) in the minds of the audience, so does the closing. Herein, we’ll explore a few examples of what not to do in our first part of our series of how to close a speech. Some of the common mistakes novice speakers make are the following:
Lackluster ‘Thank You’
Many novice public speakers will power through their speech and deliver successfully only fizzle out at end with a lack luster and hackneyed closing statement. This is the verbal equivalent of get all the way to the pinnacle and walk away from it. They deliver a lack luster ‘Thank You’ in near monotone, rather than a powerful closing statement, call to action or an engaging story. It’s fine to say ‘thank you’ but it shouldn’t be your final words. Closing in this way does a disservice to our speech and message and should be avoided.
Question and answer sessions are sometimes erroneously relegated to the end of a speech. This is problematic on multiple levels. Q&A at the end of a speech leads to a less than successful closure to what otherwise would be a successful speech. When we close with Q&A, we don’t focus the audiences attention on our call to action or main point. We don’t get to make statements about what we want them to understand from our speech. Instead, we meander through the waters of the subject we are presenting, without a key objective being verbalized. Instead, Q&A should be done throughout the speech as its a perfect opportunity to engage the audience and still allow us to have a powerful closing.
Missing a Call to Action
Every speech has a critical point which the audience should be able to grasp with minimal effort. This call to action should be a the takeaway, message or idea from your speech that your audience will gain. In fact, it should be so clear that if asked these audience members a year later they would remember it. If we don’t make this call to action clear, we leave our audience with doubts or confusion over our message and intent.
Failure to Plan/Prepare
Our closing, (just like our opening) is a critical element to a successful speech. It is among the parts of a speech where we should prepare our content carefully and practice it. A closing isn’t something we should ‘wing it’ or do without preparation. It’s something we should sit down, think through, write out, edit and rehearse in front of a recording device (smartphone, webcam, etc.). If there are any parts of our speech that we must practice it is our opening and our closing. Most novice speakers attempt to ‘wing it’ and are perplexed when it doesn’t get the audience reception they expect. Instead, plan for success and you’ll leave your audience in awe.
No Clear Ending
Many beginning speakers make the mistake of not making it crystal clear they have even ended their speech. When they do come to the end of their speech they don’t show it in body language, their voice or indicate it in their message. They leave the audience wondering if its a conclusion or if they are continuing on to a new topic. Don’t leave your audience wondering or confused. Instead be clear with your message, purposeful in your delivery and leave them with a communication that will resonate and be memorable.
After more than 15 years and 10’s of thousands of happy student – we’ve seen it all. We hope this short post will help you improve your closings. Hopefully these few examples (of the many) will get you thinking and planning for successful closings. Don’t let these mistakes hold you back from the success you so deserve. You should own your own voice, message and the stage. If you avoid these mistakes you’ll have better closings and speaking outcomes. As always, please leave comments and questions below or contact us directly. You got this, now own the stage and close powerfully and persuasively!