In the fall of 2000, when Fortune named then-Hewlett Packard’s CEO Carly Fiorina the most powerful women in business, Fiorina talked about the importance of communication skills in a business leader. “A company is people, people with brains and hearts and guts. People want to see you get it intellectually and feel it emotionally,” said Fiorina.
Before resigning as Hewlett Packard’s CEO in 2005, Carly Fiorina spent more than six years at the helm of the computer giant. In 2001, Fiorina led one of tech industry’s biggest merger’s – HP’s $19 billion merger with Compaq. While the merger was ambitious, it was no less contentious. As a matter of fact, a powerful board member and son of one of the company’s founders, Walter Hewlett, aggressively opposed the merger.
Fiorina had to convince customers, analysts, the press, investors and nearly a hundred thousand employees that the merger was what the company needed. She had to capture the emotional spirit and share it with her audience. Not only did she pull it off brilliantly, but her last three words during the presentation in New York were “Watch us now!” Investors rarely give standing ovations, and that was the day when Fiorina earned one!
Great communicators like Carly Fiorina know the secret to grabbing one’s attention from the start till the end. Whether you’re sales executive or a business mogul, take the lead in your presentations. The content of your speech is more important than anything else in the room. Craft your message in a manner that everyone can grasp its implications. Great communicators can stress on the message without losing the substance of his or her message.
Today, in the age of social media, a lot of people place a strong premium on clarity. Second, great communicators avoid business jargons, especially when delivering to people outside of the boardroom. They use words that a normal person walking down the street would understand. When you veneer words behind management jargon, either your audience won’t understand the substance or they won’t be equally passionate about it. Third, people in this day and age have become more accustomed to content crammed into less time.
Great communicators not only recognize that their audience expects brevity, they use it to their advantage. Unfortunately, when business leaders break this rule their audience sits quietly and attentively, which gives the speaker a false sense of pride. If you can finish the pitch or speech in less than three minutes, much better. Always strive to be clear, concise and compelling. Remember, brevity is powerful. Brevity is persuasive.