How to Communicate in Challenging Times – Expert Advice for Leaders

Great communication is essential to great leadership. In challenging times, this is even more true. As a leader your team members, partners, and customers want to hear from you. They need to hear the truth, both good news and bad.

They want to look into your eyes, even if it is through a computer screen, and see that you are authentic and empathetic. Although charts, graphs, and detailed PowerPoint slides have their place in presentations, this isn’t the time to entrust your message to visual aids. Instead, create an energetic intimacy through your delivery.

Know that you’re not speaking to a traditional audience. People will most likely be viewing your presentation alone. You’re having a conversation with your audience. Even if your message is prerecorded, it’s essentially live. Live when you record it. Live when they watch it.

Depending on your personality, you may need to deliver your message with 10-20% more energy than you would if delivering it in person. This will help your audience connect with you and your message, both intellectually and emotionally, despite the distance.

In England I grew up hearing stories from my parents. They talked about how during WWII, Winston Churchill would speak on the radio and, with the power of his words, give hope to the everyday citizen. This meant that even though they would hear air raid sirens every night and had to queue up in an orderly fashion just to buy an orange, his words were a comfort in very challenging times.

Since then, Anything I have experienced in life, even this, has been a mild inconvenience in comparison. More than ever before, leaders need to demonstrate their own humanity and show the person behind the position.

Recently, I watched former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on a Sunday morning talk show. He said, “At this moment of destiny, it is not a time for criticism. Rather let us be constructive. Let us look forward, not back.” He mentioned that when he was the Prime Minister and was talking to Barack Obama at a challenging time, Brown had said, “We must not say, ‘I will do what I can; rather, I will do what it takes.’”

We, too, must do whatever it takes.

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