On Leadership, Communication and Learning From the Arts

For anyone to be a successful leader, they will have to master the art of communication. This is because leaders are judged by their communication skills, whether they know this or not.

And one of the most notable ways that leaders are judged in their communication efforts is by their ability to effectively speak before audiences or crowds.

Speaking Tips for Leaders

Here are some speaking tips from 3 unusual sources that will help in ,making great speeches:

  • A Music Composer
  • A Painter
  • And a Chef

So what does writing and delivering speeches have in common with other art forms like composing music, painting and cooking food?

A lot!

Working With Emotions

Speakers, like other artists, are working with the emotions of their audience. Most good speakers take their audience on an emotional journey, ending with a strong Final Emotion that propels their audience to act on the message of their speech.

In this regard, speakers are remarkably similar to other artists and can glean valuable tips on delivering memorable speeches by studying artists who have achieved greatness in their fields.

On Music, Painting, and Cooking

Here are 3 insightful learning’s for speakers from the fields of music, painting and cooking.

1) Planning the Emotional Journey : Music by Ennio Morricone

Music by Ennio MorriconeEnnio Morricone, a prolific composer of movie scores, constantly uses his music to transform the emotional state of his audience. His ability to take his listeners on an emotional journey, from emotion A to emotion B, via his music is truly remarkable.

For example, in his composition entitled “The Ecstasy of Gold,” Morricone takes his audience up an emotional cliff in a very deliberate manner, leaving them with strong emotions of victory and achievement.

The emotional climb is in phases with bursts of emotional music followed by periods of ‘rest’, as if Morricone knows that the emotional transformation he is trying to achieve is too “steep” for his audience.

The emotional journey makes us part of a movement born out of necessity, which runs into phases of “confusion” where the purpose is lost before a final re-commitment to the mission and the eventual victory.

The final “triumph” leaves you with a sense of victory, so charged with energy and you feel like walking out to the street and beating someone up.

The Ecstasy of Gold and other music compositions by Morricone extol the need for a speaker to plan the emotional journey of their audience. They show the power of ending speeches at emotional peaks that are aligned with the purpose of the speech, providing the audience the emotional energy needed to make the big decisions.

Morricone’s use of emotional high’s and low’s to make the journey interesting as well as providing the audience with periods of ‘emotional rest’ are excellent lessons for any speaker.

2) Understanding Transitions : The Paintings by M.C. Escher

Optical IllusionM.C. Escher, a Dutch artist who lived from 1898 to 1972, is most remembered for making physically impossible concepts, like water flowing uphill, look possible. The transitions in his paintings are so smooth that they do not obstruct flow, of sight and emotions, even when the content defies logic.

This allows the eye to follow the painting, from one end to the other, to unnatural places without questioning the validity about what is presented.

In one famous painting called Metamorphose, Escher starts from an initial pattern, transitions to various figures and shapes and then to an elaborate city near the sea before returning to the initial pattern.

The transitions in this long rectangular painting, that flows from left to right, are so smooth that the eye does not stop to question the flow. As square shape patterns turn to lizard shapes and birds turn into cities, the painting always maintains its flow.

The paintings by Escher are a case study for speakers learning to manage transitions. They highlight that when emotional flow in maintained in speeches, the audience goes wherever the speech takes them emotionally, even if logical inconsistencies exist.

The audience will not seek to understand the logic of the speech but soak the message as they go on the emotional journey that has been planned by the speaker. Speakers should, as Escher does in Metamorphose, manage difficult transitions slowly to remove abruptness while enabling easier transitions more quickly.

3) Using emotional triggers : Food by Chef Grant Achatz

Chef Grant AchatzChef Grant Achatz owns an avant-garde restaurant in Chicago called Alinea. This unique restaurant serves just one menu, a seasonal 18 to 23 course meal, that, on average, takes three hours to go through.

The dining experience at Alinea is as much about food as it is about emotion. In particular, Chef Grant uses emotional triggers to enhance the dining experience of his patrons.

For example, as a child he used to rake the leaves that were falling off the oak trees, jump in them a couple of times and then light that pile on fire. The smell of smoldering oak leaves transports him back to being eight years old and growing up in Michigan. He wanted to trigger this nostalgic emotion in his customers.

Thus he created a dish with pheasant and apple cider that are tempura-fried and then impaled, on a bamboo skewer, with oak twigs that have leaves attached. The twig pierces through the pheasant, through a gelee of apple cider.

Only the very end gets tempura-fried, and then right before it goes out to the dining room, he lights the leaves on fire. He has had patrons cry when they smell the burning oak leaves because it literally transports them back to a place or a time that they have fond memories of.

Using Emotional Triggers

This use of emotional triggers to connect with and emotionally charge an audience is a master lesson for a speaker. Speakers, even when they do not have strong emotional content, can use their words, phrases, anecdotes and stories that take the audience to a place and time that arouses strong emotions.

These emotional triggers evoke deep emotions in the audience and enables the speaker to form a strong connection with them. This typically leads to the speakers message being remembered long after the speech is over.

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———————–
Vikas Jhingran

Dr. Vikas Jhingran is an Author, Speaker and Engineer at Shell Oil
He talks about the role of Emotions in Verbal Communications
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Web | Book

Image Sources: funderstanding.com, milenio.com, webneel.com, rentcafe.com

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2 Responses

  1. Reblogged this on Mr Business Info Blog – UK Business Financial Information & Credit Industry News, Products & Services.

  2. Thanks, Vikas. I liked the chef example most of all. Anytime you can take your audience back to pleasant memories of their youth, you’ll win their hearts.

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