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Say It with Substance, Sizzle & Soul Effective communication is an essential leadership skill By Dr. Kathy Cramer Effective leaders know that communicating with high impact is an essential leadership skill. To the extent your message is memorable, motivational, inspirational, and compelling, what you say can change the minds, hearts and actions of those you lead. Leaders report high-impact communication is the number one asset for: • Changing organizational culture • Enrolling people to champion a new vision • Retaining and satisfying customers • Resolving crises • Creating a productive, satisfied workforce Building on scholarly research, our leadership coaching reveals three assets essential to high-impact communication and the relative importance of each: Substance, Sizzle, and Soul. Asset #1: Substance: The content of WHAT you say (e.g., facts, ideas, formulas, roadmaps, and strategies.) Asset #2: Sizzle: HOW you engage the audience (e.g., stories, metaphors, analogies, inquiry, interaction, and advocacy.) Asset #3: Soul: WHO you are (e.g., your passions, desires, aspirations and values) and WHY your message is important to you. Research Reveals Counterintuitive Findings When we ask leaders to rate the relative importance of each of these essential communication assets, they estimate: Substance (what you say): 50-75% of impact Sizzle (how you say it): 30-50% of impact Soul (why this is important to you): 5-20% of impact However, our coaching findings, and those of researchers, reveal a very different picture. Substance accounts for approximately 7% of your influence in the high-impact communication equation. Asset #2, Sizzle, is worth 33% of your influence, while Asset #3, Soul, and contributes 60% to high-impact communication. The equation depicted by the figure below is a much truer representation of what creates high-impact communication. How Substance, Sizzle, and Soul Contribute to Your Communication Impact A Whole New Approach to Preparing What You Say The substance of your message must be accurate, credible and provocative. It is essential, but it is merely an entry card. Without it people will refuse your influence and persuasion. Your constituencies have instantaneous access to enormous reservoirs of information, made easily accessible by Google and other search engines. They can receive myriad opinions and analyses on almost any subject at any time of the day. In this current environment, Substance has been reduced to merely a commodity. It is necessary, but far from sufficient. Unfortunately, most leaders have disciplined themselves to spend the majority of their preparation time and effort on crafting the Substance of their message. Leaders we coach report that 90-100% of their focus is on shaping content into scripts and PowerPoint slides – what they consider to be Sizzle – to accurately and clearly communicate the content of their message. How Leaders Spend Their Time Preparing Messages In revamping your preparation process, remember that your audiences require entertaining, engaging experiences (Sizzle) and a clear sense of what is important to the person behind the message (Soul.) Since, so much is written these days about how to craft great stories and engaging experiences, in this short article, I want to focus your attention on practical ways of incorporating Soul into your message. To make the element of Soul more tangible, think about this quote: “The world belongs to those who show up.” leadership excellence essentials presented by HR.com | 04.2014 66


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