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Churchill’s successes are well documented, but what was so special about his qualities as a leader that enabled him to achieve those successes, and how can these qualities be made relevant for the modern meetings environment?
Script what you say
Churchill knew that radio and print were the most powerful weapons at his disposal to inspire his people, so he used his skills as an orator and writer to craft his messages to get maximum impact. Today, most corporate presenters build a PowerPoint deck and then “wing it” with their verbal delivery. The result is typically messages that are quickly forgotten.
Preparation is paramount
It is said that Churchill
spent one hour on every finished minute of his speeches. In reality this is
unlikely, but it’s a useful discipline to emulate. Many executives feel they
don’t need rehearsals or preparation, a practice to which Mr. Churchill would
take great exception. The greatest performers in the world spend more time
rehearsing than they do in concert – a useful habit for any executive to
emulate. You are never too good to prepare fully and rehearse.
Use sound bites
Churchill was a master of the unforgettable sound bite. Proclamations like "We will fight them on the beaches" and "Never, never, never give up" have become as famous as the man himself. Churchill used powerful, short words and clever phrases that he knew would stick in his people’s minds and hearts.
Churchill’s passion helped save the world. His bulky, stout frame and advancing years belied a force of delivery that those hearing him couldn’t fail to swept along by. If you aren’t passionate about what you’re saying, you cannot expect your audience to be engaged.
Know what you want people to feel
When we ask many executives
what they want their people to think and feel after their presentation, they do
not know. Churchill knew exactly what he wanted people to think and feel, and
everything he did was focused on achieving it. Be clear on your outcome, and
craft everything toward achieving it.
- Doug Keeley is the Founder of innovative leadership training company, The Mark of a Leader. For the past eight years, The Mark of a Leader has worked with a range of major businesses in North America – including Accenture, Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft, Royal & Sun Alliance, and Starbucks – to create engaging and effective meetings. The Mark of a Leader has just opened in the UK with a view to bringing Keeley unique vision of engagement to the European market.
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