Public Speaking – Why Leaders Must Crave Trust
‘The European Central Bank acted on Tuesday to prevent a potential collapse of the Greek banking system after the country was declared by a large ratings agency to be in “selective default” ’ New York Times, 28 Feb 2012.
That really doesn’t sound good. In fact, it sounds positively scary!
It’s yet another in a long line of negative headlines about the state of the Euro and its member nations. It’s one more example of eroding confidence in Europe’s financial markets.
But hold the phone…
…what about the litany of press conferences we’ve seen, month after month, at which European heads of state and finance ministers have told the world that the Euro crisis is ‘manageable’ and their ‘long term solutions’?
Why haven’t these speeches stopped the rot? Where’s the trust? Why are markets not listening to Europe’s politicians and their stories?
Are there times when it’s better for leaders to say nothing?
Whether it’s Merkel, Sarkozy or other EU leaders who take to the podium to calm nerves – the markets aren’t buying many arguments or motives.
Speaking in public for the sake of saying something is folly.
Truth is, politicians who get in front of microphones to deliver platitudes or talk tough (all too often with an eye on how their messages will resonate amongst domestic audiences) instead of offering solutions do more than waste everyone’s time – they commonly exacerbate problems.
And international markets get jittery when faced with arguments that lack credibility.
They crave leadership, vision and bases for confidence – but find Europe’s political leaders wanting.
Trust is vital for leaders
Why are European leaders failing so badly?
In a nutshell, the markets don’t set store by what they say.
They are not sufficiently trusted. And without trust, it doesn’t matter how logical you are – your arguments will be compromised.
Speakers must never trade on integrity
Whether you’re a business or a political leader, you must establish and maintain credibility to carry the hearts and minds of those you want to persuade.
Understand, it’s not enough to get your audience’s attention and hope to win them over with the pure logic of what you say. Audiences pay as much, if not more, attention to whether they find you credible before taking on board arguments you make.
If they think you are less than sincere, expect them to dilute or even dismiss what they hear.
And if an audience losses faith in your integrity – chances are, they probably won’t rely on too many words that follow!