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C-Suite Advisory

Four Questions People Ask Every Time You Speak

I’m not a mind reader, but as someone who has sat through countless presentations and conferences, I can share with you four big questions I ask every time I hear someone speak. If you are a leader or communicator who wants to better connect with your audience, they are questions worth considering.

Question #1: Do you believe this? 

This question is about energy.

When you speak, people want to know that you stand by your words. They won’t believe you if you don’t. There is something contagious about the passion and energy a person radiates when they are convinced of their content and message. It is also glaringly obvious when a person is delivering a message they don’t personally believe in. Passion isn’t just in volume, but in value. You don’t need to be loud; you just need to care. There are many friends I would describe as passionate and yet they are anything but charismatic extroverts.

Build conviction. Get passionate about your message. Passion is seen not in volume so much as value. To become passionate about what you do, invest the time and effort into understanding deeply why your message is valuable to you and to those you share it with.

Question #2: Do I believe you? 

This question is about authenticity.

An audience would rather engage with someone who is raw and authentic than with someone who is polished and fake. An audience will forgive you for tripping over a few words, but they won’t forgive someone they perceive as bogus. Trust is the foundation for connecting your message.

Avoid comparison. Ultimately people want to connect with you, but they can’t do that if you’re trying to be someone else. The best pathway to authenticity is being comfortable in your own skin. Find how you communicate most naturally, own it, then keep growing.

Question #3: Do you care about me? 

This question is about generosity.

Is your content seeking or serving? Are you sharing this information because you believe it will benefit those who are listening, or is your sole intention to seek something from them? As the popular saying goes, people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

Deliver value. Whether it is a sales pitch, a department update or a change process, focus on adding value first, before asking for anything in return. Put simply, always seek to give more than you take.

Question #4: Do you understand me?

This question is about empathy.

People want to know you’ve done the work to understand them. This means answering the ‘what’s in it for me’ question before you enter the room. Empathy has been described as the ability to walk in someone’s shoes and see things from their perspective. It’s also the ability to find the connection between the content or message you deliver and the challenges people face.

Show understanding. Show people you have done the work required to determine how your big idea is relevant to the key challenge they face.


Written by Shane Michael Hatton.
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Shane Michael Hatton
Shane Michael Hatton is a leadership and communication expert committed to helping leaders build and leverage their platform to lead, inspire and mobilise their people. Shane is the author of Lead the Room – Communicate a Message That Counts in Moments That Matter (Major Street Publishing). Shane Hatton is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine.
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