Good communication is essential for strong leadership. The ability to get your message across in a way that’s easy to understand, motivational, inspirational, and authentic is an important way to lead others.
In this time of the pandemic causing crises around the world, we’ve seen skilled presenters step forward to provide excellent examples of leadership because of their ability to deliver straight talk in an understandable, conversational manner. Certainly there are many, but let’s recognize three whose styles and approaches stand out.
“It spreads before you even know you’ve caught it”
Dr. Emily Landon
On the local stage, we first met Emily Landon, MD, when she was presenting to the people of Illinois as part of the Governor’s Task Force on COVID-19. Dr. Landon, the Executive Medical Director for Infectious Disease and Control at University of Chicago Medical Center, showed up on our screens for about seven minutes, which was all the time it took for her to make a powerful impression as someone we could trust to lead our response to the coronavirus.
Landon delivered basic information that told us clearly about the situation we face. Her message was honest but hopeful, engaging and informative, simple yet complicated as she pledged to unite the medical community to fight the virus. Through great eye contact, natural looking gestures, variations in volume that highlighted her most important points, a conversational approach and moments of great energy, she showed her humanity as she exhibited great leadership.
She also did a great job presenting from written notes. Watch Dr. Landon’s presentation and notice how she takes a moment to look at her notes and “scoop up” the text, then refocuses her gaze toward her audience as she powerfully delivers her remarks. This is an important skill in any setting to remain conversational while delivering a prepared text.
Follow this link to watch her speak, and be sure to look at the comments left on the YouTube page. You’ll get a quick idea of the positive impression she makes.
“We’re still on our way up the mountain”
Governor Andrew Cuomo
As leader of the state hit hardest by the coronavirus, Governor Andrew Cuomo has emerged as one of the most-watched elected figures in the country. Cuomo began to deliver daily media briefings earlier than the White House did, providing the clarity, understanding, camaraderie and guidance that inspire confidence.
Cuomo explains the goals of his administration, the nature of the data they examine regularly, and the process he and his team are using to make difficult decisions. He goes beyond his job as a governor to be a real leader, showing that he understands what his constituents are going through by sharing personal anecdotes about his family’s experience with COVID-19, explaining decisions by putting them into a larger context, and encouraging us to remain spiritually connected with close ones even though we must remain socially distant.
We appreciate Cuomo’s straightforward speaking style. He’s honest, clear, and blunt when he has to be, all of which help him convey believability and trustworthiness, two qualities we’d want to see in any leader, particularly during this difficult time. Click here to see the governor in action.
“(Facial expression, arm movement, raised finger…)”
Michael Albert, ASI Interpreter
When watching Dr. Landon’s presentation, our eyes were immediately drawn to the dynamic, animated man using American Sign Language to help Landon reach her audience. At times, Michael Albert looked like a contortionist, using body movement and facial expression to convey more than just the words she was speaking—we were getting the passion, the emotion, and the intensity as well.
Albert has served as sign language interpreter to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker. We’re seeing many of his colleagues work in public presentations to help communicate with the millions of Americans who have hearing loss, and we’re usually impressed with the way they over-exaggerate their facial expression to convey the feeling behind the message.
Many people we work with could learn a lot from Albert and other interpreters whose approach and animated expressions really combine to hold an audience’s attention. Click here to learn more.