Guest post by Sara Canaday
An article in Forbes recently explained that our brains use our senses to gather roughly 11 million bits of information per second from the environment around us. However, our conscious minds have the capacity to process only about 40 of those at once. No wonder it’s a challenge for professionals to filter through all of the emails, webinars, podcasts, meetings, and phone calls to determine which communications really deserve their attention.
The competition is incredibly fierce. To effectively compete for some of that conscious brain bandwidth among their teams and customers, modern leaders are taking a new approach to business communication. Instead of following conventional guidelines, they are discovering enormous success by applying more unusual strategies. Here are three examples from my new book, Leadership Unchained: Defy Conventional Wisdom for Breakthrough Performance.
Today’s pioneering leaders have learned to think about the process of communicating in a new way—one that’s better suited to the fast-paced, always-on world. They know that success isn’t measured by the information transferred; it’s based on the experience created.
That’s the secret. It’s not about the information. It’s not about the quantity of facts shared. It’s about the experience they provide.
With that in mind, they focus on the message instead of the data. They peel away all the layers of complexity that have been clogging up their communication and get down to messages that are authentic and engaging. They present them in novel ways. And they aren’t afraid to open a window into their motives and rationale.
These modern leaders also move beyond the need to inform and impress. They understand the importance of communicating to inspire their teams and help them envision the future. They make that a priority. And when they incorporate that broader, deeper, and more compelling brand of communication, they create memorable experiences that genuinely resonate with their teams.
An article in Psychology Today described a unique experiment that used MRIs to monitor human brain activity as people consumed different types of information. Certain parts of the participants’ brains would “light up” when they read a newspaper article. Other parts were activated when they looked at a painting or heard someone reading a technical document.
But when the facilitator started to tell a story, brain activity increased in multiple areas—auditory, visual, sensory, reasoning, emotions. The findings proved that we use much more of our brains when we are listening to a story. Additional studies showed that we are 6-7 times more likely to remember information if it is presented in story form.
That’s an important secret weapon for leaders who want to create a better experience and communicate with more meaningful messages. Stories draw us in like nothing else.
Modern leaders have learned the wisdom and value of telling stories as a regular part of their communication. It’s a brilliant way to capture imagination and invite their audiences to join them on a mental journey.
Successful leaders take the time to craft messages that are simple, concise, and compelling. Understandably, that requires more effort, but it’s essential if they want to communicate in a way that is clutter-busting, brain-activating, and impact-making.
They start by developing their communication to include laser-focused messages. They bring those to life using smart imagery and visual support. And then they deliver their messages with poise and professionalism to maximize impact. One-on-one. In a meeting. On a stage. Through a video or an exercise. They strategically choose the best delivery method to connect with the audience and successfully transfer the critical information.
As these strategies demonstrate, winning at the communication game today requires a vastly different approach than it did just ten years ago. Modern leaders are recognizing that and, more importantly, acknowledging that the conventional principles and traditional wisdom of business communication are now less effective. However, through their willingness to crawl out of the communication rut and apply these new strategies, they are expanding their professional influence and competing at a higher level.
Sara Canaday is a leadership expert, keynote speaker, LinkedIn Learning instructor and author. She works with leaders and high-potential professionals from organizations around the world to expand their capacity for collaborating, communicating and influencing others. Her new book, Leadership Unchained: Defy Conventional Wisdom for Breakthrough Performance, is now available on Amazon. www.SaraCanaday.com