I want to write to you about an immensely important part of your leadership. I also have to offer an apology. The apology is due because I haven’t addressed this aspect of your skill set enough, and I haven’t done it because it is within a field my firm specializes in. I simply didn’t want to appear self-promoting. I apologize. Now, though, I’m going to hit away and trust you won’t think I’m just advertising in this Leading Thoughts. I’m not. I want to help you. And, yeah, I might tell you a bit about what we do.
The reason I’ve suddenly decided to dive into this area is that I read something Warren Buffett said recently. Anything he says I want to hear, believe me. What he said was that there is a way you can increase your worth by 50%. Do you know what he said that was? Improve your written and spoken communications ability.
Here’s the article. Read it for yourself.
I agree with him fully. Because of the speaker coaching I do, I’ve seen huge increases in people’s income, leadership range, and career trajectory come from learning to communicate better.
Let me just stay on the theme of spoken communication here. I’ll leave written communication for another Leading Thoughts.
The truth is that our world is placing greater demand on speaking skills than ever. The new video technologies we have and the evolution of a “spoken word” culture in both our business and entertainment sectors is forcing people who have never been trained as speakers to “perform” well in order to succeed.
Here’s an example. There is a petroleum engineer who is truly gifted at what he does. He has a doctorate in engineering, he’s helped firms thrive, and he has a stellar reputation. He was recently hired by a firm that required that he report in from the field directly to the board via video conferencing technology. They value the speed and the clarity, as well as the paperless way of doing business. Well, he’s a brilliant petroleum scientist but is a terrible speaker. He’s a field guy. He uses shorthand. He’s very West Texas. His reports were unclear and frustrating. He was about to be let go. Then he got some coaching. Things are getting better. He’s even considering spending his later years as a teacher at a university, something he would never have done before he got help with his speaking.
You see, this man’s career field transformed into a spoken world culture without him having been prepared for it. He probably has a similar story to yours. He made it all the way through his formal education without ever having sat in a speech class. Our schools don’t teach speech much anymore, and most people never get personal coaching. So, he foundered—until he got help.
I’m so lit up about this field, particularly in light of Warren Buffett’s recent comment, that I’m going to continue on this theme in our next Leading Thoughts. In the meantime, take stock of your own public speaking skills, look over the spoken word culture of your firm, and hold both of these up against Mr. Buffett’s comments. More next time.