communication skills and public speaking

Communication Skills: A Blurry Vision Vs A Clear Vision

When we do public speaking we often try and create a vision for our audience to improve our communication skills. A vision of what we want to achieve, a vision of where we want to go or a vision of a better future.  It is this vision that will help an audience to decide to follow you, accept your way of thinking or be prepared to make change in accordance with your vision.

According to A.M. Carton and B.J. Lucas in the September – October Harvard Business Review (HBR), far too often leaders provide blurry visions rather than clear and vivid visions. They call it the “Blurry Vision Bias”. The blurry vision include statements like:-

  • “together we will make the world a better place”
  • “we will create greater employee engagement”
  • “we will improve our communication and become better communicators”
  • “we will better serve our communities”
  • “to teach others to become successful”
  • “to help people overcome fear”

These vision statements our not specific and defined as blurry visions and HBR found that blurry visions have less impact with audiences than clear visions.

Clear visions include statements like:-

  • “a computer in every home” Bill Gates
  • “we will put a man on the moon” J.F Kennedy
  • “no child will be living in poverty by 1990” Bob Hawke
  • “a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage” Herbert Hoover
  • “we will do zero harm in the workplace” Rio Tinto
  • “stand up and speak despite your fear, with your fear and still share your message” Peter Dhu

Our challenge when crafting a presentation and when public speaking is to portray a clear vision to our audience. Our story telling, our examples and our data must all lead to a clear and specific vision of the future. To make the world a better place is an admiral vision, but its lack of clarity means that your audience will not change or do anything different.

Your aim is to come with clear and specific vision for the future that your audience can also imagine and identify with and a vision that aligns with your audience’s’ values.

If you wish to learn more about public speaking and storytelling, then I am running workshops in Darwin form the 22 to 23 of October: Assertive Communication Skills Workshop on 22 October, Effective Communication Skills on 22 October, Difficult Conversations on 23 October and Thinking and Speaking Off the Cuff on 23 October.

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