The Master Communicator Blog

What holds you back from using your voice for change?

How is the failure to communicate clearly and honestly affecting your ability to work with others to make a better world? Maybe you need to slay a few mythological dragons to find the great communicator in you.
August 7, 2023

What gets in the way of excellence when you speak? The barriers can be real or imagined, much like the mythological dragons that must be defeated or outwitted to achieve great power or gain good fortune. The dragons that keep you from the gold you seek: the ability to speak with confidence and impact that transforms an audience—come in many forms.

I’m on a mission to slay the dragons of bad communication. That was the topic of my recent talk at TEDx WestoverHills. Slaying dragons means overcoming the obstacles that prevent you from fully expressing who you are. You may think that because you can talk, you can communicate. That is not true. Effective communication is much deeper, meaningful, and consequential. 

Warren Buffet, who was terrified of public speaking early in his career, said, “You can have all the brainpower in the world, but you have to be able to transmit it. And the transmission is communication.” I believe that everyone can transmit with impact and be a great communicator. You may need to slay some dragons to get there. 

What are the dragons that hold you back when you have something brilliant to say, when you want to express high passions, ideas, and solutions; when you want to be heard; when you want to build consensus; and when your heart wants to open to someone else’s pain?

The dragon of fear

Perhaps your dragon is fear. If so, you are in good company. Performance anxiety is so pervasive that 70 percent of people on Earth say they fear speaking in public more than death. The symptoms are easily recognizable: sweaty palms, butterflies in the stomach, trembling hands, and dry mouth are just a few. Mark Twain said, “There are two types of speakers: Those who get nervous and those who are liars.” It may surprise you that even experienced speakers face the dragon, they just learned to deal with it.

The dragon of introversion

Maybe your dragon is that you are an introvert and believe that extroverts are more skilled communicators. You are mistaken. Introverts possess the superpowers of analytical thinking and empathetic listening and embrace those traits when they are called into action. Good communicators are not born, they are made. Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey are introverts.  So were Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln.      

The dragon of sloppy speaking

Do you say “absolutely” when a simple “yes” would suffice?  What about those pesky filler words: um, ah, eh, you know, and like. People cursed by these verbal tics are perceived as less competent and often are not taken seriously. Then there is weak vocabulary, word repetition, and incorrect usage. There are 170,000 unique English words in current use, yet we use some 25,000 in a lifetime, and we use them poorly.

The dragon of poor listening

Speaking is just one part of the equation of good communication. The other is listening, but it’s not easy. Attention spans have shrunk. We pay attention in tiny snippets of 8 seconds, and all the while we are thinking about something else. We even struggle to listen to ourselves. Most people hate the way they sound in a recording because it is different from the way they sound in their heads. Grow to like your vocal instrument and the sounds that are uniquely yours.

The dragon of bad body language

Maybe your dragon is lack of body language awareness. You fail to understand that most of what you communicate is non-verbal: your posture, gestures, eye gaze, and facial expressions combined with the tone and volume of your voice, not the actual words. Words account for less than 10 percent of what it takes to convey feelings and emotions when you communicate. Eye contact is one of the most powerful triggers of trust. And it is an unstoppable force when combined with a smile, the universal language that cuts across cultures and touches the heart. 

The secret weapon to slay your dragons

Whether you are challenged by fear, introversion, sloppy speaking, lousy listening, or ineffective body language, I have created a secret weapon to help you emerge victorious. It is deadlier than the sharpest dagger. It’s called BLISS, an acronym for five actions to free you from your dragons.

B is for breath

Breath is life. In-breath is inspiration, out-breath is communication. Breathing helps calm your nerves, focuses your attention, and is an antidote to those pesky filler words. Instead of um, ah, eh, like, you know, and other pointless noise—pause and breathe. Stand tall, shoulders back, take an expansive breath, open your chest, and help the introvert become an extrovert.

L is for love

There is a widely held belief that if you don’t love yourself, you can’t love another. This applies to speaking, too. Techniques such as eye contact and active listening are ways to show love when you communicate. Trust that what you have to say has value, speak from your expertise. Love your topic. Love and respect your audience. If you don’t, how can you expect them to love you back?

I is for imagine

Imagine communicating with ease, confidence, and impact. Visualize the outcome of your speech, a presentation, a pitch, or media interview. Picture yourself bringing people together to co-create and collaborate. Hold in mind the change you want to achieve and imagine a transformation of benefit to all.

S is for service

What is the gift you give to others when you communicate? How are you expressing your ideas, showing emotion, passion, and conviction to help them understand each other and live better lives? Shift your focus away from you and put it on serving others with the strength of your voice and your ideas.

The last s is for smile

This is my favorite part of BLISS.  It is the common denominator of human connection. An authentic smile tells others you are happy to be with them. It signals your intentions and goodwill.  Others will mirror you. Relax and step out of our comfort zone of introversion with a smile.

Aristotle, the father of oratory, said that we are what we do repeatedly. Good communication is a habit to be honed repeatedly. Practice it blissfully. You may not be able to fully eliminate fear, weak language choices, bad body language, lousy listening, and introversion, but you will experience more conscious communication as you uncover the natural speaker in you. 

You should never doubt that you have something important to say. What you say and how you say it can persuade, inform, elevate, and inspire collective action. I challenge you to stand in your bliss, slay your dragons, and change the world with the power of our voice.

Rosemary Ravinal

Business leaders and entrepreneurs who want to elevate their public speaking impact, executive presence, and media interview skills come to me for personalized attention and measurable results. I am recognized as America’s Premier Bilingual Public Speaking Coach after decades as a corporate spokesperson and media personality in the U.S. mainstream, Hispanic and Latin American markets. My company’s services are available for individuals, teams, in-person and online, and in English and Spanish in South Florida and elsewhere.

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