What do leaders and speakers have in common? As a leader and speaker myself, I was pondering on this concept and quickly realized that it is the power of influencingothers. Leadership, at the core, is about influencing others. Speaking is also fundamentally about influencing others with our words. Most leaders often have to speak in public and thus are public speakers although they may not pursue speaking as a career. The same way, speakers lead others because people may follow their advice, their expertise, and may be influenced by their speech. For example, whether a speaker teaches on a business subject or shares his or her inspirational story, the audience listens, and most of the times, follows. Many speakers also become entrepreneurs and lead their own companies.
With the power of influence comes great opportunities and also enormous responsibilities. Some of those opportunities that also carry a lot of responsibilities are:
Set trends. Leaders and speakers can set a trend. Sometimes those trends can be small things like encouraging people to help their neighbors—whether their neighbor is in the next cubicle or in their neighborhood. Other times trends can be world changing like Steve Jobs when he introduced the new iPhone technology.
Set the example of commitment. Both leaders and speakers have to show up and do their jobs regardless of what’s going on in their personal lives. Speakers make commitments to deliver a keynote or teach a seminar months and sometimes a year in advance. People show up to hear and learn from them. I remember last year I had to teach an all-day seminar on Cash Management and 40 bankers had signed up to spend the day with me to learn. During those days, my father-in-law was not doing well and that very morning at 3 a.m. he passed away in Missouri and I not only couldn’t go and be with my husband but I had to show up and teach the entire day. That was one of my biggest tests as a speaker. I delivered the presentation and no one knew what happened in my private life. I understand that sometimes if it’s your own parent, spouse, sibling, or child, you do need to cancel your commitments. But for the most part, your audience doesn’t care what happened in your personal life and speakers are expected to fulfill their commitments. There was another occasion when one of my co-workers passed away and the president of the bank was out so I, as a member of the executive team, had to announce it to the staff. I was devastated and did cry during the announcement but I got through it. I had to lead in that sad moment.
Be consistent. Leaders as well as speakers need to be consistent on how they deliver their message to their audience—whether the audience is the company’s staff or the attendees at a conference or event. Consistency for a speaker means they always prepare by doing their research and by practicing. Then they have to show up on time, consistently. Leaders do their part of the job as a team member. Being consistent also means that both leaders and speakers behave the same when they are at home as well as on the stage or in the office.
Be authentic and genuine. When leaders and speakers are consistent and behave the same way everywhere, that’s being authentic and genuine. Each leader must be him or herself in order to be the best and most effective leader he or she can be. The same way, each speaker has a unique message and delivery method that belongs to him or her. It’s their unique brand.
Bring value. Speakers and leaders who are authentic, genuine, and consistently act the same wherever they go, bring value to their audience. Each speaker and leader has its own value. It’s their unique value proposition. Again, their brand brings value to those who follow them.
Make others feel valued. At the same time that authentic and genuine leaders and speakers bring their own value wherever they go, they make others feel valued. Authentic leaders and speakers genuinely care about others so they spend time with people and take time to nurture their relationships. They listen to others and also share their experiences to help people be the best they can be.
If you are a leader, you most likely are already a public speaker even if you’re not a professional speaker, meaning you don’t speak for a career. The same way, if you are a professional speaker, you most likely also lead in some way even if you’re not leading a company, because you have followers. So take advantage of the great opportunity to influence others and, at the same time, take the responsibility that comes from influencing others, seriously.
Marci Malzahn is a banking executive and founder of Malzahn Strategic (www.malzahnstrategic.com), a community bank consultancy focused on strategic planning, enterprise risk management and talent management. Marci is also an author and motivational/ inspirational speaker. You can contact Marci for speaking engagements through her website atwww.marciamalzahn.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can purchase Marci’s books atwww.Amazon.com.