The solution? Set them a deadline, hand them a mic and ask them to create a TED-style talk of their own. Some of the most forward-thinking organisations are embedding thought leadership into their company culture by hosting internal TED-style conferences and giving employees the opportunity to stand up and speak.
The result? Close-knit teams and employees brimming with confidence, creativity and engagement.
Confident communicators speak with conviction, and according to Aristotle (one of the founding fathers of communication) there are three ingredients necessary to do just that.
Organisations are meant to be a collection of people united by a common purpose, yet scan across the office floor and you’ll see two types of people. Those that sap the energy out of your soul when they walk into the office, and those that have the ability to somehow make the GDPR sound interesting!
Enthusiasm is contagious, it can’t be faked, yet expecting ourselves and our employees to maintain the same level of enthusiasm that they interviewed with for something they do day in day out is unrealistic. Team-building days might break up routine but the effects are short-lived.
What’s needed is a mechanism to spark a new way of thinking; one that gives employees the opportunity to reignite their enthusiasm for what they do and that starts by allowing them to share an idea that is completely unrelated to their job with their team.
It’s no secret that the most effective way of learning something yourself is to teach it. Have you ever finished watching a TED talk feeling inspired and empowered? That's probably because the speaker taught you something that has opened up your mind to a whole new world of possibility and that made you feel excited. As adults we forget what it feels like to learn, yet education is at the very heart of influence, persuasion and empowerment; all critical leadership traits.
The best speeches are impeccably well-researched and a lot of time is spent choosing what to share and how to articulate it in a way that captures people’s imaginations. The process of writing and delivering a speech doesn’t just build confidence; it builds experts. Having an army of eloquent experts at hand to tackle problems can only be a good thing for the growth of an organisation. Giving a speech teaches you to assume expertise; you don’t need to be the expert, you need to be an expert.
Ethos in Greek means culture or morals, which in this context I like to translate as 'character.' In the speaking world it’s about their credibility to speak about the subject matter, and it’s a crucial piece of the jigsaw when it comes to how open the audience will be to receiving the talk. For example, if an account executive with no prior experience started to speak about effective recruitment strategy, it probably wouldn’t go down too well.
That's why giving people the opportunity to choose their own topic can be so powerful. It levels the playing field by making job titles redundant, bridges the divide between ranks, and creates an environment where everyone feels like they can contribute. There is no better way to show that employees are valued than for them to know that their ideas will heard.
Alex Merry is a public speaking expert who has recently launched an Executive Public Speaking Accelerator programme