You can speak as a leader: The CSA AGM seminar

Each time you want someone else to do something, to achieve common goals, you have the chance to speak as a leader. As people who stutter, we don’t always see ourselves as natural leaders - even if we want to be. Why? That’s the first part the Speaking as a Leader program addresses - how we think. Leadership is something we all have the chance to do in everyday situations. But what sort of leader can you be? In essence, a leader who understands what they can offer, what action they want, and one who knows how to listen properly to find out what other people need.

It starts with you

Speaking as a Leader gets you to examine the barriers you think you have. If you think you are starting from a position of weakness - and ‘think’ is the key word - here are the tools that can help you to speak from a position of strength.

1. What are you thinking?

Do you expect actions and results from what you are saying? Do you expect others to see the value in what you are saying and in what you have to offer? Creating these expectations in yourself and others is crucial to good leadership. Having a vision of what you want to achieve requires a bit of imagination, especially if this is a new way of thinking. As a starting point, I find it particularly helpful to envision a positive response from someone I will be presenting to.

2. What are you saying?

Using four letter words doesn’t make a good impression, and one of the worst offenders is ‘just’ For example, ‘I’m just doing xxx at the moment’, or ‘I just want xxx’ At best it’s false modesty and at worse, lacks all conviction. Once you know what you want, speak with clarity. Preparing precise messages and being succinct will help. Stuttering can be used to advantage here - saying what you need to, but no more.

3. Are the words in the right order?

It boils down to this: knowing who you are speaking to, what action you want them to take, and what information they need to make that decision. The Speaking as a Leader program uses a script to give structure and order to your communications. If following a structure seems formulaic, I can say with complete conviction that if you are ever have to speak when tired, or when unsure of how to identify and present one part of a complex problem, it gets results.

4. How are you saying it?

Okay, this can be a tough one if it means speaking in a strong, authoritative voice. Nothing wrong with that if done right, but the foundation is really to speak with conviction. That means you own what you are saying, believe it deeply - and have a clear vision of what you want to achieve. Speaking with conviction can definitely be learned if you are passionate, authentic, courageous and honest. Like other speech skills, it sometimes means unlearning old habits to develop your true potential.

These four areas will help you build a strong foundation for all forms of leadership communication. Persuading other people to listen or act can sometimes be easier than persuading yourself. So, as a starting point, find someone this week who you want to act on what you have to say, and follow the four steps outlined above. There’s nothing like a leadership opportunity to bring things into sharp focus.

The Speaking as a Leader workshop for CSA was on March 28 in Toronto. Many thanks to Margo Gouley and Aram Arslanian from The Humphrey Group for their support.