Sir Winston Churchill led the British people through World War II. As Prime Minister he inspired them to dig deep, stand together and fight against the evil invading their soil. It must have been a frightening time and one in which practical words were needed to give people hope that they could fight regardless of their place in the empire. To talk about tools and getting the job done, no matter the person’s profession the citizens could understand and be included in the fight to save their home.
I had a boss who liked to hear himself talk. He used big words, talked in ethereal ways and usually lost everyone within a few minutes of opening his mouth. It was important to him to be the most important person in the room, his need for power and control left his team empty and usually very confused. We each had to go to him after the meeting, individually to ask our questions otherwise he would humiliate us in front of the group. What a waste of everyone’s time and efforts simply to make himself look big. It was a tough place to work and only the weak follower survived. The best people left quickly and never looked back.
When we speak, our words have the power to elicit emotion and action from the listener. It is our job to express thoughts and ideas in such a way that someone hearing our words has the ability to apply understand and apply them to their own life. Otherwise we end up sounding like a gust of wind that blows in and blows out bringing nothing with it but dust and dirt. This means we must think of the audience first not our own ego. Eloquence and sophistication only work when the audience understands at that level. In other words gear the message to the intended person not to simply say words and sound important.
The best communicators have the ability to use words tailored to their audience. They know who needs what and their goal is to deliver the message so each person can understand. The end result is people follow willingly because they know the speaker cares enough to provide what they need to understand and act. People don’t care who much you know until they know how much you care.