October 7, 2021

Meeting Topics 8 October 2021 – 22 October 2021 – Growth: Verbal Communication – the Leadership Superpower By Diana Thomson – Leading in Strange Times By Jennifer Myers

Meeting Topics 8 October 2021 – 22 October 2021 – Growth: Verbal Communication – the Leadership Superpower By Diana Thomson – Leading in Strange Times By Jennifer Myers

leading in strange times

Meeting Topic

Introduction for meeting topic discussion:

This article is contributed by Diana Thompson of SpeechMarks. Speaking in public can send people into a state of panic but it is something we all need to conquer in a work environment.

As you construct your 60-second introduction, read the article and share with your group how you use verbal communication and speaker opportunities to raise the profile of your business

Verbal Communication – the Leadership Superpower By Diana Thomson


To be a leader in a community, business, not for profit or corporation, strong verbal communication skills are essential.

Moving from management to leadership takes many different traits and soft skills. Multiple bodies of research have shown that as we move from manager level to leadership, our reliance on technical skills and use of them decreases and soft skills increases. The most important is communication and even more specifically verbal communication. This is because leaders speak to multiple people or groups everyday, adjusting their style and content accordingly. From one-on-one meetings and phone calls all the way to large industry conferences. If a person is known as a good speaker, they are likely to be asked to present at company functions, industry events and hence gain visibility and credibility.

At the height of leadership speaking are those who inspire and motivate. Very rarely have people been inspired by a letter or an email. What truly inspires people is the way a person speaks, connects and gains the audience’s trust. Hence Inspirational or Motivational speakers are some of the highest paid in the world such as Tony Robbins, Brian Tracey, numerous sporting legends and of course the gorgeous Jess Quinn!

Multiple surveys pre-and-post Covid have confirmed that confident communication skills are essential to leadership. They support communicating company vision, persuading and influencing, proposing strategic thinking and pitching new ideas. Larger businesses usually ensure managers are ‘put on a course,’ but if you are a small business owner or owner/operator, you may overlook it.

The What

Figure out what you need to work on. Here are a few aspects that are guidelines for what you may need to develop.

Some Characteristics of a Speaker who Leads

  • Motivates and leads teams with encouraging language
  • Can present to a large group or on stage
  • Can tell meaningful stories
  • Has impactful memorable messages
  • Uses Sticky messages when needed
  • Can deal with interruptions, questions or disagreements
  • Listens to feedback and to others

First, develop your confidence to speak up in common situations that arise. Venus Businesswomen is great for this because every fortnight you have a safe and supportive environment to do this. But put the extra effort in and actually have a pre-written, well practised opening and closing to your one minute promo. Then work on your delivery. There’s a well-used phrase in public speaking: There is no such thing as a boring topic only a boring delivery.

A confident speaker could make preparing breakfast sound exciting and fun. While an inexperienced speaker can make six minutes feel like a lifetime.

So practice and rehearse your one minute promo delivery and don’t forget to prepare the classic elevator pitch. You will never be considered a leader in your field or industry if you cannot speak confidently about yourself and what you do.

Your use of pauses, varying pace and changes in tonality (usually just called vocal variety) are essential for an interesting and engaging delivery. Do you speak in a monotone, do you lack energy or do you speak at one very fast pace to get it over and done with? Then make vocal variety your priority.

Confident body language and facial expressions that are appropriate are also part of ensuring the delivery looks confident, is engaging and interesting.

Longer speeches and presentations 

People often find that a short speech is harder to deliver than a longer one. 10 minutes of verbal brain dump (or conversation) is natural, as opposed to a carefully planned well-structured five minute presentation. Editing and cutting extra padding out can be one of the hardest skills to master. If PowerPoint or a slide deck is used then “Death by PowerPoint” is a no-no as it will instantly devalue your content and reputation. Make sure that you follow the current trends of a few words in a very large font, high quality pictures, icons and simplistic graphics that make up a cohesive slide deck.

Try to have a basic understanding of the DISC profiling system or an equivalent. These help you learn and spot different personality styles and the way they prefer to be communicated with. This helps you know whether you should be directed and to the point or focus on a more social approach or maybe explain things in detail and allow time for responses.


Find an option that suits your needs, location and budget. Toastmasters International is the most recognised and well known worldwide club system. While there are 100s in New Zealand, so there is likely to be one near you, it is very much a case of ‘buyer beware’. The quality of Clubs varies, depending on the Club members and current leaders. And remember, both good and bad techniques and habits can be passed on.

Books – As the Author of Anyone Can Speak Confidently, it will sound strange that I say you will get very limited improvement from reading a book.  But the truth is you have to get out there and speak. Hence Toastmasters does work.  But there is also a range of books and many won’t be applicable because you actually don’t aim to “Present like Steve Jobs”.  As one client said to me “I just don’t want to make a dick of myself”.

There are also women’s speaking clubs or courses, such as Speaker Sisterhood or She Says So, these have a familiar female vibe, where you can feel more comfortable to reveal personal content that makes fantastic speeches. Many community or interest groups will allow you a chance to speak, as does Venus Businesswomen with the 6-minute Spotlight for members, these are great practice grounds.

Workshops are very popular. Make sure they help you build your confidence, require you to speak multiple times and deliver speeches.

Speaking well is an essential business skill but an even more essential leadership skill. There is no better time to make it your priority than now. Commit to small steps and then schedule a course or workshop to accelerate your public speaking skills and confidence. I know through my own experience and from helping 100s of others that Anyone Can Speak Confidently.

Diana Thomson is an international speaker, author and speaking coach. You can read more about her at www.speech marks.co.nz and find out about the ‘She Says So’ speaking club here: https://www.speechmarks.co.nz/she-says-so-public-speaking-membership-program

Original blog here

Next Meeting Topic

Leading in Strange Times By Jennifer Myers

INTRODUCTION: As you construct your one-minute introduction for the upcoming meeting, read the article below, then share the most recent activity you engaged in that helped you develop your skills as a leader and influencer, regardless of whether you have people working for you or not. What have you done to build that ‘influence’ muscle? If you’ve done nothing, what CAN you do to begin building your own leadership abilities? Because leadership isn’t about being the ‘boss’ of a team. Leadership is about the example you are BEING to those who look to YOU for direction, inspiration and guidance.


Things are strange out there. I would dare say 99% of us have not lived through anything remotely as disruptive as the situation we’ve been facing for the last 18 months. Times like these tend to drag our focus as business leaders into all the ‘noise’ around us – blow by blow media updates, worry, ‘languishing’.

Leadership guru John C Maxwell states that leaders are not made in times of crisis, they are revealed. Nobody ever became a great leader overnight. Leadership is a skill that can be learned and practiced, so those who have been learning and practicing over the past several months and years are now stepping up and finding out what they’re capable of. Those who haven’t yet invested in their own leadership development are looking for strong leaders to help show them the way.

In this article, we’ll take a quick look at how leaders at ALL levels (parents, not for profit leaders, coaches, business owners, medical professionals) can step up and influence those around us for the better. Because, at its core, leadership IS influence. Bad leadership precipitates a faster fall while good leadership offers steadiness and perseverance.

Let’s look at how we need to ‘show up’ as leaders for the people who look to us. We as leaders need to define reality for those we lead. This is not the first crisis we have ever faced. The people you lead need to hear the voice of reason right now. Define reality for them and help them re-focus their anxiety on staying in positive motion. Actually, according to my Clinical Psychologist partner, the people who look to you need 3 things that YOU can provide:

  • Calm
  • Certainty
  • Positive ACTION

We as leaders need to put the people first. Who ‘the people’ are depends upon who you lead. Every single business has been affected by this situation and will continue to be affected by it. Good leaders will be thinking beyond the next 3 months and will be communicating regularly and calmly with their teams and their customers about how their business will look as they adjust to the changing situation. What short- term pain must you all bear now in order to come out the other side even MORE fit for purpose? Look for opportunities wherever you can!

Crises are distracting – they pull us away from the things we WANT into things like negativity and anxiety. As leaders we need to remember that even though the sky might be falling for some of those around us, the sky isn’t falling for us because we will remain focused on those things we CAN CONTROL. And that’s the second thing we need to do now – keep our focus single-mindedly on what we can control about our situation.

People around us are losing traction left and right – let’s help them regain traction by setting the

example. We know that people do what people see. Let’s show them how to behave in this situation by remaining calm, providing a sense of hope or certainty and directing ourselves and those we lead to take positive action.

Ultimately, this crisis will reveal what is inside each of us. Our choices over the years shape our character. Crises simply reveal the result of those choices. I’m showing up for you and for those I lead. What positive action can you take today that will help you stay the course?

Stay calm. Focus on what you can control. Keep moving forward.

Jennifer Myers is the owner of Gener8 Leadership Solutions and is a certified Leadership coach and trainer. You can read more about how she helps her clients and their teams HERE.

Original blog here

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