On April 11, Buffalo Niagara 360 presented the 4th installment of its “Business Leadership Series” sponsored by Medaille College. Business consultant and corporate trainer Larry Mietus of Speaking of Strategy provided a presentation on “Powerful Communications Skills for Contemporary Leaders.”
Larry gave BN360 members a thorough overview of what it takes to have powerful communication skills. These are skills that any professional can use to effectively communicate their viewpoints, facilitate a meeting, and actively listen to others. Common barriers to communication such as fear, misunderstanding, and differing positions of power were discussed. Many of us have been in situations where we may have been hesitant to express ourselves because we felt our opinion wouldn’t be welcome. Other times, a conversation can stall because one person’s position within the organization may not be high enough in the staffing matrix to be perceived as important enough to be heard.
Just as with learning styles, people have different communication styles and it’s important to try to determine how people best listen and engage with one another. A co-worker may be an “auditory” learner if their responses may include phrases such as, “I hear what you’re saying” – or they may be kinesthetic learners, who work best when taking a brisk walk and physically engaging in the conversation.
When one is able to understand another’s communication style, they must also practice active listening skills: listening to words and thoughts, listening to the “full” story, and recognizing emotions, among others. Non-verbal communication plays a significant part in any conversation. If your co-worker gives you the impression they aren’t fully engaged in what you’re saying, communication can break down. Non-verbal cues that indicate a person isn’t listening may be unintentional, but they can be more powerful than the words being spoken.
Larry’s presentation also focused on good public speaking skills, providing a general outline of the critical components to a good speech (knowing your audience, being aware of your non-verbal cues, having good visual aids) and delved deeper into the meat of what makes a good presentation great. When we have to speak in front of an audience, we must remember that being nervous is a natural – and important – part of the process. If you don’t have at least a few butterflies in your stomach, you may be overly confident about how prepared you are. Use your nervous energy to give a dynamic, engaging speech!
Thank you to Medaille College for sponsoring this year’s “Business Leadership Series.” We look forward to bringing you another series’ worth of compelling topics next year. Stay tuned!