South West airlines have a mantra in their business. It’s the summary statement that shapes all their values, culture and behaviour. It’s the statement that helps them decide what to do when, and how much energy and resource gets put into it. It’s the true north they return to, to define and direct what to do next.
For South West Airlines it’s “Wheels Up”.
“Wheels Up” shapes the values, culture and behaviour of the entire organisation. It serves as the guiding belief above all others. When wheels are up, business is right, people are flying and mission is accomplished. It also means you’ve launched. The first priority of any plane is to take off, launch towards the new horizon, embark towards the predetermined destination.
Leaders who speak need to have a Wheels Up approach to communicating. Have a guiding principal and master metaphor that you shape your message from. We also need to begin, launch, embark – to do this requires you craft compelling introductions. Here’s what matters when considering an introduction for leaders who speak.
The right introduction gives me a big enough WHY.
In a world where there is no shortage of data, in all its forms, there needs to be a clear, compelling, accessible reason to listen to you! LeaderSpeak makes sure you craft the introduction to have a clear distinction as to why this communication matters at this time. WHY is the critical ingredient that in turn gives information meaning.
Your WHY needs to be clear and compelling. The sharper the purpose of your message the more conviction you can have with the introduction. Avoiding generalisations and platitudes you can stand in your authority, your uniqueness and your responsibility. Consider your introduction as the moment just before you launch off a bungee tower. Leaping into the unknown with anticipation and confidence that all will be well because it was right at the start!
Your WHY needs to be accessible. We need to feel like you are authentic, real, truthful and have a sense of energy and attention on others. Leaders who speak make meeting people where they are at and moving them towards a preferred future a priority. They make the experience of their hearers a priority. They make the message real, the steps clear and the mission exciting.
When we believe your WHY as a leader, we are more likely to accept your what and how.
The right introduction provides clear direction.
Preparing your conclusion at the same time of your introduction is important in the sense that they need to be mirror images of each other. When you have a compelling reason to speak you can create a clear sense of direction and authority. There are a myriad of ways to give direction to the introduction of your speech. Stepping into the conviction of your message, clearly and authoritatively stating your position gives people a handle to hold on to. It provides a reference point to move from, come back to and navigate around.
Leaders who provide direction in the introduction stand at the door and say to the listener “welcome, come in, we’re ready!”
Some ways to make your point include:
- A Declarative Start – Stating a key belief or position of the message.
- A Narrative Start – A story (more than one) that has embedded meaning in your message.
- A Media Start – Leveraging off recent media or news events.
- A Cultural Start – Linking to something that has meaning and significance to the hearers.
- A Date & Time Start – Being specific and accurate about an event or story.
The right introduction engages the heart.
Mark Galli and Craig Brian Larson say it this way “Illustrate, don’t explain.” An illustration or story is more likely to invite the heart to lean in and open up more than data could ever hope to achieve. Stories give us somewhere to place ourselves, someone to be and an adventure or quest to participate in.
Leaders who speak are clear that they want people to feel something. Be moved, emotionally engaged. Not in a manipulative way but in a meaningful way. Real stories, true stories, events that are recounted are all ways to give people an introduction in technicolour. Turn up the music, the imagery, the promise, the characters in such a way that people feel something related to your message. We want to get lost in stories as well as unconsciously finding ourselves in them. We all want to do well on the quest, facing the giant, shoulder to shoulder with companions. We feel that kind of possibility.
Leaders who speak find and recount stories that are relevant and purposeful to their message and themselves. Any dissonance in this part will have a multiplication effect in the hearts of your hearers. Choose wisely.
The right introduction convinces the mind.
In addition to engaging the heart leaders who speak know how to engage the mind. To demonstrate, they know their content, they have done the research, they ‘know the numbers’ and have a clear view of the current reality faced by the organisation and the people.
In addition to helping people feel convinced, they need to actually be convinced. To give cognitive permission to you as the leader and to your topic. It also is the space for you as the leader to continue to communicate that you DO know your topic, you have done the work, you’ve done a deep dive into this space, it is a credible path for you to take. This is critical, there is no substitute for doing the work, knowing your topic and caring about how people experience it. You have a membrane’s thickness of credibility and simply cannot be found a fake at this point in time.
Know your topic. Do the private work. Prepare more than you ever show or share. Convince the heart and the mind that this is worth my attention, and even more, my application.
The right introduction establishes the authority to continue.
When leaders who speak combine these steps they create a platform of credibility from which to continue. When people have clarity around the why of the communication, the direction of the communication, the head and heart aspects are increasingly likely to give you permission to continue speaking. Leaders who speak, speak in such a way to keep enjoying the permission given by people to keep communicating with them.
Leaders who speak know that when they have “wheels up” they are well on the way to the destination promised with a journey to remember on the way.
#TheTopFifteenPercent | Going Further Faster