What Makes a Great Communicator?

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Last week at the PRSA-NY chapter “Town Hall Lunch Meeting, PR strategist and co-author of “World Class Communication,” Virgil Scudder, led an intriguing discussion on how to be a best-in-class communicator. The focus of the talk was how great communication skills can help CEOs win the favor of the public, shareholders, employees, and the media. While Scudder’s communications tactics are targeted towards the CEO, any marketer or brand representative looking to put their best foot forward or brush up on their public speaking and public relations skills can use these strategies. Here, we’ve listed they key aspects of “The Scudder Method,” a formula developed by Scudder to improve the communications skills of any leader or public speaker, based on his depth of expertise and experience in media and public relations.

 

1. What do most employees look for in a new CEO or leader? Surprisingly, the first thing Scudder mentioned is that more often than not, employees and executives alike find that humility and modesty are qualities that make the best communicators, especially when in a position of leadership, like CEOs.

2. Being a good listener and understanding the needs of your audience is a critical component of the communication process. On top of being a good listener, presence is what makes a speaker’s words memorable. Having presence means knowing what words to emphasize to make a clear point, connecting with your audience, and ensuring that you don’t blend in with the wallpaper.

3. Having a story that’s not only worthy of being shared, but has a great message can make all the difference in reaching the media in an effective and noteworthy way. Scudder writes in his book, “Journalists are storytellers. Almost all are good communicators. So I based the system on the way journalists, both print and broadcast, make news stories interesting and meaningful to their audiences. It involves simplification, clarification, and illustration.”

4. Scudder writes, “communication is not what the speaker knows—to a large extent, it’s not even what he or she says. Communication is what the listener takes away and what happens as a result of that takeaway.” So, what should your audience take away? Scudder clearly defines the 4 Cs of public speaking: being clear in defining what you are discussing, concise with the message being communicated, credible as to make your words genuine and meaningful, and confident so that your presence is known, and words taken seriously.

Here’s one of our favorite examples of a great communicator, Sheryl Sandberg. Watch her informative TED Talk here: Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders

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