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Harnessing The Power of Speech


With Matt Church

You may be the smartest person in the room, the greatest leader the world has ever seen but if you can’t speak, articulate your vision and inspire others to act with your words – you’re toast. You have to match your message with your delivery and the man who can show you how to do it is MATT CHURCH.

Matt is one of Australia's foremost communicators. He knows the secret to transforming an ordinary person into a leader; to making the smartest person, the greatest communicator.
He has worked with many captains of industry and has assisted almost every professional speaker in Australia. Reluctant to blow his own trumpet, Matt says that “Any speaker you’ve met over the last ten years will have been influenced by one of the programs that we have worked on. It’s a real honour and a privilege to be able to, in my mind, help those who help others.” People seek him out because Matt knows how to match a compelling message with the art of delivery.

Matt labels his approach “speakership” and he believes that speakership is essential for people who want to be professional speakers, for people who want to grow businesses and for people who want to lead large organisations. He says, “This is my grand obsession, it’s the thing I do, it’s the thing I’ve done for 20 years.”
Speakership brings together two sets of skills - the art of persuasion and the ability to lead. Matt says, “Well, if you think of speakership as leadership, it’s two words right: speak and lead. How leaders speak matters.”

Matt believes, “A leader is someone worth following and is someone who can influence a decision, make people follow a strategy and affect people for life. Leadership brings responsibilities. You are the rainmaker and the thought leader; you have to demand constant innovation.”

With these kinds of responsibilities, Matt thinks leaders need words and ideas that match the task. They need speakership. He explains, ”The way that the leader inspires is through what and how she or he communicates. Leaders have to communicate with words that matter and that actually end up making a difference in the lives of the people that you work with, and work for.”

Matt says that “Speakership is about taking everything you know and communicating in a way that with the language we use, it re-distributes the future. So it’s not about prophecy, it’s not about coming up with what you guess will be next. Rather it’s about saying this is a future that’s already here over in that sector or over in that market or over in that country and taking that information and then applying it with relevance to our current situation.”
Matt has studied the methods of the world’s greatest communicators – everyone from Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton to Nelson Mandela - and he knows that if you’ve got something to say, anyone can speak. He is emphatic that “A leader’s ability to communicate the “Why” to people, is the single most important thing on the planet.”

Matt thinks that now more than ever, leaders need speakership. They have to prepare. He says, “Winston Churchill said, ‘If you want me to do a five minute speech, give me five hours. If you want me to do a five hour speech give me five minutes.’ His point was, if it’s got to be concise and you’ve got to deliver it in a tactful way, you need heaps of time.“
Matt is firmly of the view that “Everybody on the stage without a message should get off stage”. He implores his clients to respect their audiences and think before they speak. “Don’t get up unless you got something to say,” he says. “You’ve got to care. You can’t just pull it and wing it. Your mum and your dad told you think before you speak, Son. Multiply that by 100 people when you are addressing an audience. Think really well before you speak.”

Further, to survive in this day and age, Matt thinks being the market leader is essential to survive and the way to be a market leader is to embrace speakership. He explains, “Selling has evolved. The transactional selling of the ’80s, the relationship selling that most people will do today, the diagnostic selling that people do on high-end business transactions, are all based around being in control as the salesperson.”

The problem with this model though is that consumers have changed. They’ve wised up. Matt says, “They are more educated and that has to change how we sell. The client can do all the things that used to be your competitive advantage. The client has checked you out before you even walk in the door. They’ve looked at your Facebook and LinkedIn profiles. They don’t care about your skiing trip to Aspen. What they want to know are your insights on what happened at Saturday’s auctions. Agents have to focus on what clients care about. They have to give clients engagement, relevance and meaning. Tell them where are all the opportunities, where are the growth markets in their areas.”

Matt acknowledges that marketing is important. He believes that sales are more powerful than marketing when it comes to delivering on the bottom line because if marketing creates new interest and noise, it’s sales that create new business. He values building relationships and thinks that referral and recommendations are essential to maintaining a healthy business. What he considers to be of the utmost importance though is to be the market leader.
He says, “If I’m positioned as the market leader, if I am a category of one, I reckon that’s a ten times return on investment and you cannot delegate that to a proxy; it’s got to be the person running the business. Leaders can’t sit behind the scenes anymore, they’ve got to get out front and drive their business and speakership is the key.”

So if speakership is the answer to longevity in a cut-throat world, how do you develop it? What do you have to do?
Matt is of that view that speakers and leaders who have speakership demonstrate three characteristics.

First, they have perspective so they soar like an eagle, above the trees. They banish fear and instil confidence in what they say and how they say it.
Secondly, they are agile and flexible - they adjust what they say to the needs of the audience so that the same message reaches the largest audience.
Thirdly, they use influence - they go beyond being a manager and mobilise in pursuit of a better future and inspire people to work towards a vision of a positive future.

How to communicate perspective

To develop perspective, you have to become an expert in your area. You have to know more than the punters. You have to hit the books and speak to people to develop a greater understanding of the ways in which the world works. When you address an audience, what you are seeking to do is to reduce fear, remove doubt and increase confidence. And the way that you do that is by providing perspective - by being the smartest person in the room.

Once you have perspective, you then have to communicate it in the most effective way. Matt says that, “How you communicate perspective is by working out what you’re going to say, the point that you’re going to make and the big picture idea you want to communicate.” He believes that many people get locked in one of those levels. He says, “They make the point but they can’t illustrate it. They tell a story but they can’t conclude and they don’t understand what the big picture is, or they only get the big picture and can’t make it relevant with the story. Masterful communicators separate the stuff from the point from the picture and deliver it in a way that engages people and that’s perspective. Great communicators are masterful at that.” Matt advises his clients to think of it as a figure eight. “What you’re going to say takes time, the big picture takes space and the point takes no time at all. Every idea that you want to communicate needs to be thought of in those three layers.”

How to be agile and flexible

Matt believes that leaders who demonstrate speakership have the ability to be agile and flexible. They take themselves out of the equation and adjust their message accordingly. He says, “If you want to increase certainty and you want to remove confusion, you have to communicate to me in a way that can be heard. You have to be the most flexible person in the room.”

It is therefore essential to tailor your communication style to your audience. Matt knows that in order to be agile though, you have to understand how people think, their different world views and what motivates them. Again, you have to be the smartest person in the room, hit the psychology books by Gardner, Graves and Beck and the like, and understand different world views. Some people are in survival mode, others believe in the power of institutions; some are self actualised, others collaborative. If you talk to a group of people who believe in the power of institutions and are compliant, and you ask them to be innovative, creative and risk takers – you’ve communicated poorly. They won’t listen to you.

As Matt says, “You have to ask yourself - where is your audience currently at and how can I deliver a message that has meaning to them? A leader understands all world views. A leader rises above all of them, and is not characterised by any of them. A leader has the ability to go to any group and communicate the message from the factory floor through to the boardroom and out into the press gallery.”

He illustrates the power of flexibility with a story about Bill Clinton’s speakership ability. “Clinton did it, Tianimen Square, China, Beijing. Tanks running over students protesting against communism. Right? Shooting them in the streets. The world went into shock. One year later to the day Clinton flies to Beijing. Everybody in the US is going, you know, ‘The human rights violation on Tianimen Square was untenable. You need to go and hit ‘em hard, you need to smash ‘em upside the head, let ‘em know how awesome we are and we’ve got this together and they should be doing like us’.

“That was the message. He said, ‘No, what I’m going to do is I’m going to walk in and go: China is one of the fastest growing nations on the planet. There is no doubt China is a world leader, no doubt. The question is what’s your leadership legacy?’ Mmm and walk away. He almost lost the next election because he didn’t go hard enough. But what he actually did, I believe, is stop China from going to the brink of war. I think, I personally believe, that one message delivered in that one moment of time turned things around.”

How to exercise influence

The final element of speakership is the capacity of leaders to inspire people to believe that change is possible to work towards a positive future. You have to be the innovator, the thought leader, the rain maker and communicate your vision through using perspective. Matt says that one of the greatest communicators the world has ever seen, Nelson Mandela, knew how to exercise influence.

When he was released from jail after 27 years, Matt says, “He came out and in his one message he goes, ‘I forgive the guards’. In that speech, ‘I forgive the guards’, he was sending a message to every black African that said we need to forgive all of the whites for apartheid if we’re going to move on. And it was one of the most powerful moments in history.”

We are living in the midst of tumultuous transition and economic restructuring. Jobs are being lost but new ones are being created in industries that didn’t even exist a decade ago. The newspaper game is fighting to survive. Retail is struggling with customers who want greater choice and who are prepared to shop online. Real estate has its own mountains to climb. It will be those people who can see the prevailing winds that will survive and Matt Church can provide the road map.


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