Brilliant leaders and exceptional presenters have a great deal more in common than many people imagine.
Whilst some people may not often associate strong leadership with effective presentation skills and vice versa, it is generally unwise to separate the two skills.
It’s worth making the distinction at this point that there are Leaders and Presenters and there also Mindful Leaders and Mindful Presenters. This article sets out some of the similarities between the latter groups.
The debate continues as to whether a great leader needs to be a great presenter and whether you can be an exceptional presenter but not an exceptional leader. Regardless, here are 6 common traits among them.
1. They seek feedback
Open and honest feedback is undoubtedly one of the greatest gifts a leader or presenter could receive to help them to perform more effectively.
Despite that fact, how many are asked to give it?
Let’s be generous for a moment and assume that in leadership it happens occasionally; do you believe it’s given with complete honesty?
For presenters it also takes a great deal of courage for their audience to be totally honest with them in terms of their performance; leaders share a similar challenge.
How do Mindful Leaders and Mindful Presenters overcome this challenge?
They actively ask for feedback
They listen very carefully to the responses
They act on what they hear and ask for feedback again
2. They know more than you think
It’s hard to think of anything much worse than a leader or presenter who doesn’t have the required level of knowledge and competency to lead a team or speak to a group.
However, knowledge is about far more than what you may know on a technical level.
What knowledge do Mindful Leaders and Mindful Presenters really need?
For me, this is just a fancy way of saying being ‘self –aware’. It means having the knowledge of who you really are in terms of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges and it also means doing whatever it takes to have a similar level of knowledge about the team you are leading or the audience you are speaking to.
Have you every endured a presentation where it was evident that the speaker didn’t know what they were talking about? Worse still have you ever worked with a leader who didn’t have their facts straight?
Mindful Leaders and Mindful Presenters do their homework and get all of the facts, data and information they need to lead effectively and present with impact; they leave nothing to ‘chance’.
I believe that what you know matters far less than how you make others feel about what you know.
Mindful Leaders and Mindful Presenters don’t simply deliver and act on the facts; they inspire and move people to action by helping them to really feel something.
To them ‘connecting is everything’.
One of the greatest leadership and speaker talents is the ability to help people to see the future.
That is exactly where Mindful Leaders and Mindful Presenters invest their time and focus.
3. They keep things simple
Complicated frameworks, complex processes and jargon are highly effective tools for confusing people and putting them under unnecessary pressure.
A great number of organisations speak openly about their desire to ‘keep things simple’ yet very few seem to be able to manage to do so.
Mindful Leaders and Mindful Presenters keep things simple.
They get to the point quickly
They are mindful that if their grandmother won’t understand it then it’s likely their team or audience won’t either.
They focus and do everything they possibly can to help their team and audience to focus as well.
They ask themselves why – Why should my team or audience care?
4. They respect everyone
It has often been suggested that people don’t leave their jobs; they ‘leave their boss’.
Every day in organisations across the entire world there are people returning home from an exhausting day’s work to spend the evening with their families in a state where they feel depleted, disrespected, ignored and sometimes even mistreated.
That’s nothing to do with the ‘job’ and everything to do with the ‘leader’.
By the same token people across the globe are attending and enduring presentations which could have been made in a fraction of the time with a great deal more, value, purpose and impact.
How do Mindful Leaders and Mindful Presenters overcome this challenge?
They have the utmost respect for those they are working with.
As you may imagine there is no convoluted magic or science behind this trait. It rests simply on a universal principle of humanity which is that essentially we are all the same.
The Mindful Leader and Mindful Presenter begin and end each day at work with that universal principle of respect at the top of their to do list.
It remains their highest priority each day and is never crossed off.
5. They start with themselves
If anyone ever dares to tell you that being either a highly effective leader of presenter is an easy task you may be quite clear that they have attempted neither role themselves and if they have they are quite disillusioned.
Given the demanding and complex nature or both roles perhaps it all begins with ‘courage’.
Where does the Mindful Leader and Mindful Presenter start?
The average leader or presenter starts where everyone else starts; in other words they follow those who they have seen lead or speak before them. The Mindful Leaders and Mindful Presenters start at the place where it takes the greatest courage; they start with themselves.
They take a long hard look at themselves every day; they switch off their ‘autopilot’ and take the time and courage to really get to know themselves.
They have the courage to ask themselves some difficult questions:
What really gets me out of bed every morning?
What makes me anxious, uncomfortable or angry?
What are my strengths and weaknesses?
How honest am I?
How patient am I?
How do I really see my team / audience?
How do they see me?
What difference can I really make to others; why and how?
6. They are always in the room
I’ve lost count of the number of times in former executive roles that I entered my CEO’s office to get some urgent advice or support on a significant issue whilst he continued his work directly facing his computer giving little if any response at all until coaxed to do so.
For me, it was more than a lack of respect, it was though he wasn’t even in the room with me; he wasn’t present at a time when I needed him to be.
Often you will find that presenters may be in the room with you physically but they are not totally present either.
When you are in your ‘head’ totally focused on impressing your audience and showing them how knowledgeable you are and how hard you have worked they will sense your lack of presence also.
Mindful Presenters and Mindful Leaders are always in the room.
They know how to be fully in the room because they adopt and practice 3 key habits:
Humility – They understand and believe that regardless of their position, salary, or whoever is holding the microphone, no one is more important than the other. Whether you’re the leader or speaker you are there to serve, to value and make a difference to the lives of other.
Trust – Is by far the most important quality for any leader, speaker or indeed anyone in a position of responsibility. You can have the best vision, strategy or message in the world but if your team or audience don’t trust you then you will never get very far.
Patience – Whether you are a leader or a presenter one of the many things you are paid to achieve and will be judged on are your results. The Mindful Leaders and Mindful Presenters understand the truth in the old saying, “patience is a virtue”. They know how to put themselves in their team’s and audience’s ‘shoes’, they listen carefully to them and they take them with them; they don’t push them.
Whether you are leading, presenting or both, mindfulness isn’t about sitting in a corner quietly meditating, although that is immensely helpful for a few minutes each day.
Mindful Leadership and Mindful Presenting is about developing a level of consciousness and self-awareness that you can only achieve through:
Knowing more than others think you know
Keeping things simple
Starting with yourself
Being in the room
Interestingly, by far the most powerful route to developing these traits is to spend some time at the beginning and end of each day in the quiet of your own mind focusing on your own breath as reflect on just how mindful you are while leading or presenting.
Whether you are leading, presenting or both, spend a few moments each day with your mind attentively placed on just one of these traits and enjoy the enormous benefits of being a Mindful Leader and Mindful Presenter.
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