Lessons in Persuasion, Communication and Leadership from Capt. James T. Kirk
President of Speechworks, a selling and communication skills coaching company in Atlanta. He has worked with hundreds of business people helping them learn how to communicate in a way that connects with clients. His new book 15 Minutes Including Q&A: a Plan to Save the World from Lousy Presentations” is available now. He is also the author three previous books including “How to Win a Pitch: The Five Fundamentals That Will Distinguish You from the Competition”, “Selling and Communication Skills for Lawyers” and “Even A Geek Can Speak.” He can be reached at 404-266-0888 or firstname.lastname@example.org
“A meeting is an event where minutes are taken and hours wasted.”
Those are the wise words of James Tiberius Kirk, Captain of the Starship Enterprise, and hero of “Star Trek,” which, to my mind, is some of the best sci-fi out there. Captain Kirk had apparently endured many boring presentations by Federation colleagues.
I scoured the Internet for more Kirk quotations relevant to communication skills, persuasion and leadership. These quotations are from the 1960s television program.
“Conquest is easy, control is not.”
Roaming the universe, the Starship Enterprise crew was always dealing with issues of conquest and control. But to me this quote goes to the heart of what great communication is about. It’s about the challenge of exerting influence over others.
Great presenters influence others by focusing on value to the listener. If you want a client to comply with a set of expensive regulations, you’ll have more success if you can show that compliance will increase revenues, reduce costs, or increase competitiveness.
“The more complex the mind, the greater the need for the simplicity of play.”
This quote sounds like an exchange with Mr. Spock over a chessboard. But it also touches on the idea that one of the true tests of a leader is the ability to make complex things simple. This is particularly true with the practice of law. Patent litigation matters are rarely simple.
Here’s a question you can ask yourself before your next presentation that will allow you to simplify any topic: “Assuming that my listeners won’t remember everything, what are three things I really want them to remember?”
“We humans are full of unpredictable emotions that logic alone cannot solve.”
Kirk was always teaching Spock, the ever-logical Vulcan, about human emotion. And one of the most important ways to influence an audience is with emotion and passion. Great communicators don’t rely solely on logic. They show passion to build a personal connection with the listener.
Let’s say that you must pick one of two firms to represent your company in a class action matter. Both firms have excellent reputations. How do you decide? Part of the calculus will simply be who you connect with better on a personal level.
“Genius doesn’t work on an assembly line basis. You can’t simply say, ‘Today I will be brilliant.'”
The same is true with speaking. Becoming a great speaker takes sustained effort over many years. Over time, you develop stories and a style that connects with audiences.
Three years ago, I started working with an executive at a huge Atlanta company. For the first speech we worked on together, he did a nice job. Since then, he has worked at his speaking skills, seizing opportunities to give presentations. Just this week, I saw him speak again.
“I’m amazed at your progress,” I told him.
“It’s funny how practice really works,” he said.
“We’ve got to risk implosion. We may explode into the biggest fireball this part of the galaxy has seen, but we’ve got to take that one-in-a-million chance.”
Many people, when they get up to speak, fear that the universe will explode. But if you want to be a leader, you must face that fear. The key to managing the fear of public speaking is to rehearse your presentations extensively.
“No more blah, blah, blah!”
No explanation needed on that one.
Speechworks is a communication and selling skills coaching firm. We teach professionals how to craft and deliver complex messages in a simple, persuasive manner. Since 1986, through workshops and one-on-one instruction, we have helped countless individuals become better presenters and communicators. You can reach us at 404.266.0888, email@example.com or on the web atwww.speechworks.net
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