Earlier this week I attended a communications workshop from Dick Butterfield trainers who focus on corporate communications coaching. The focus was on creating powerful stories, organizing power bites, and conducting impactful meetings. The trainer we had has been coming to my company to train our employees for many years and has a background in helping our leaders/C-Level get better at communication. What I found interesting is the trainer is a former acting coach (which he mentioned at least 25 times) which I found interesting to shift to corporate communications coaching.
One of the key takeaways from the workshop was the different types of stories you can tell and ways of approaching the same situation. An example was demonstrated of approaching the same difficult conversation about needing to hire 2 new unbudgeted employees from the perspective of someone who knows their boss well and someone who doesn’t. The communication was effective in both instances because the proper preparation and understanding of how to frame the same ask if we need to hire 2 new unbudgeted employees.
It is useful to think about that in pretty much every major instance a lot of practice is put in before a really great performance whether that be in sports, arts, music, acting, or giving a speech. It is something I had taken for granted is the need to prepare for every single important event/meeting in which you need to perform at your best. If the first time you practice something is when the game is on the line, the likelihood of it going well is a lot less than if you have practiced it many times before. This is the same for telling stories, coaching, or a presentation. In order to take your communication skills to the next level you must practice and only once you’ve been able to fail or mess up a couple times will you be able to deliver impactful presentations.
This idea of practice is true with comedians as well. When you look at someone like a Kevin Hart or Chris Rock they often spend time testing out their jokes and developing them before they finally feel ready to tape a special or go on tour. The idea of practicing in front of smaller audiences or just parts of jokes allows a comedian the time to improve the quality and delivery of the story. The majority of the communications workshop was done through exercises and discussing presentations and formats of delivering information. Ultimately there are a number of frameworks that will help you organize your stories to ensure they are the most impactful as possible, but the key to telling a good story is clearly articulating the arc and imagery of what you wish your audience to feel.