By Michael Holland  

At the movies this weekend, we settled into our seats about 8 minutes before the start time for the movie.  The theater was packed and we were lucky to get two seats together and start munching down our popcorn.  Right on time the theater goes dark and we get ready for the movie.  But wait, there are a few previews to watch.  25 minutes later the dozen or so previews were finally done!  Those last 13 minutes felt like forever!  Preview after preview kept coming.  Each time we thought, ok, this is the last one.  But no, there’s another and another.  Even guessing at a dozen previews might be low.

Articulate leaders are rare and to many employees the phrase may even oxymoronic.  While communications skills are a critical skill-set we find leaders of all seasons lack some of the basic capabilities to communicate effectively. They don’t prepare well and they hesitate to communicate clearly.

So many leaders tease their employees much like the previews at the movie theater.  These leaders keep employees on edge thinking that at the next turn they will finally be ready for the big show, the real information, the real reason they are in this meeting.  The leader dances around the main feature taking topical tangents as he prepares his courage for the main topic.

Finally, its time and the employees settle in for the main event.  The leader begins to communicate and tells their story.  Will he get the full thumbs up or will he get a couple of rotten tomatoes?  Will employees stay engaged with the story line and understand the full depth of the communication or will they be lost in the periphery never being drawn into the story?

Leaders too often waste precious time and energy during team meetings dancing around key topics and issues.  They seldom invest the time ahead of the meeting to develop a communication roadmap or awareness and insight regarding their audience.  They rush into the meeting and create lots of chaotic conversations while they attempt to develop a game plan on the fly for the real topic they need to address.

There are times a leader needs to build intrigue and anticipation for a major communication.  But too often leaders need to get to the main feature more quickly so they won’t lose their employees and meeting momentum. 

Coaching Thoughts- For You and Your Peers

  • Think back through your bosses. How would you rate their communications skills as leaders on an Articulate Leader Scale of 1 to 10?  How might your employees rate you on the Articulate Leader Scale?
  • What issues or topics might cause you to hesitate in being an effective communicator?
  • When you are preparing for your meetings, are you building a communication roadmap and thinking deeply about your audience of employees?  Why don’t you invest time in preparing for a meeting?