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Powerful Storytelling Skills for Leaders and Managers with Richard Newman (Ep. #56)

The BetterManager Team
Building Better Managers Podcast Episode 56 - Richard Newman

Building Better Managers Podcast Episode #56: Powerful Storytelling Skills for Leaders and Managers with Richard Newman

Over 80% of people from the front lines to the C-Suite point to ineffective communication as a root cause of many team project failures. And the migration to more remote and hybrid workplace setups isn’t making things any easier!

To help you up your game we’ve brought in Richard Newman, founder of Body Talk and author of “You Were Born to Speak”, to show us how leaders and managers can add some practical and powerful storytelling techniques that can dramatically improve communication, teamwork and productivity.

Storytelling is simply the way the human brain wants to receive information, so sharpening your storytelling skills is a real game changer. Richard gives us strategies to leverage the three major areas of communication: nonverbal (body language & tone of voice), content (the story & visual aids), and mindset (preparation & framework). You’ll soon find yourself moving people to action by engaging the survival mind, emotional mind, and logical mind.

In this episode:

Meet Richard Newman

  • Business leaders all over the world rely on Richard Newman to transform their communication. One client won over $1 Billion in new business in one year, using Richard’s techniques to win 100% of their new business pitches. His team has trained 120,000 clients worldwide. But Richard had to learn it all from scratch. Richard is highly introverted. He has high-functioning autism. He was painfully shy as a child.
  • At age 18, Richard started his mission to discover the core communication principles. He went to live in the foothills of the Himalayas with Tibetan monks, who spoke no English. They had to communicate non-verbally to understand each other. He then worked as a professional actor, studying how to walk, move and speak to increase his impact on an audience. He became a keynote speaker, coach, author and speechwriter, winning the coveted Cicero Grand Prize for Best Speechwriter of the Year.
  • Richard’s research on non-verbal communication was published in the Journal of Psychology. His study proved that you can increase your leadership ratings by 44% and win 59% more votes in an election by changing a few simple behaviors.

What Monks Can Teach Us About Non-Verbal Communication

  • After high school, Richard was introduced to a monastery in the foothills of the Himalayas, and heard that one of the monks wanted to learn English. He I flew out there, was greeted by the monks and quickly realized they didn't speak any English at all!
  • He resorted to using body language and tone of voice just to find a basic way to connect with them. After a while they connected more and more, and through trial and error over a few months, he was able to take them from no English to having conversations.
  • The key is the simple principle of congruency - that body language, tone of voice, and content must work in exactly the same direction to be understood.
  • For example, when trying to teach them the word "excited" if he didn't look excited, or if his tone of voice wasn't excited, they had no idea what the word was.
  • Richard works with MBA students & CEOs and it's very common for people not to have congruency between their words and their presentation. A CEO or CFO steps up at the start of a big company meeting and says, "Hi, everybody, I'm really excited to be here today, we've got good news to share with you," there better be something in their face and tone of voice that gives some indication that they actually feel that way!

Can Everyone Learn To Be A Great Communicator?

  • Some of the greatest communicators in history faced tremendous challenges at first, so it is a skill that anyone can learn.
  • About 10% of the population face difficult challenges when it comes to communication. Whether it's permanent hearing loss, or Autistic Spectrum Disorder, they can really benefit from this new perspective on communication. And if you're an introvert? Or shy? Or have never been good at communication? Well Richard started from the exact same place - he's done it, you can too. There's no question about this, you can get there. If you know and practice his simple strategies, things you can do today and everyday, in every meeting, many introverts end up loving it because they see real-world progress.
  • In his experience with 120,000 people from 46 countries over 20 years, he's never found someone where he thought they should probably leave the class. It's one of those things where the more that you practice it, the more that you study it, the more you invest in yourself, the more results you'll see. This Growth Mindset is a defining factor in the process.
  • Remember, if you're not good at something, you're in a great position to go and study how to be great. Build up the skills and you'll have greater pride when you get there!

Strategies You Can Use To Improve Communication

  • There are 3 major areas to consider when trying to improve your communication skills. First, there's the nonverbal side, the body language and the tone of voice. Second is content, which could be storytelling strategies, but also thinking about visual aids. And the third piece is mindset, we've got to get people to a place where their mind and emotions are allowing them to get to that place where they fulfill their potential and exceed what they've been doing before.
  • Places to improve communication, are emails, documents, phone calls, and any conversation. It's all storytelling. And although it's been talked about a lot for the last 10 years, sadly it's not done very well by a lot of people.
  • When people go and listen to an orchestra, they don't leave the room going "Well, I think I could compose something like that." But all too often people hear the term storytelling, they think, "Oh, yeah, I've heard some stories, I'm probably a really good storyteller."
  • There's a framework to build a good story, and so it's a really nice way in for everybody to learn around communication. Storytelling is a key differentiator, it's not telling people about your weekend, or looking for interesting anecdotes, storytelling is very simply the way the human brain wants to receive information.
  • In order to be captivate people with storytelling, you must engage the Survival Mind, the Emotional Mind and the Logical Mind in that order. That means that you're using the power of storytelling to engage someone and communicate your message in a way that they will understand why they should care. They know what they're going to gain from it, they care enough to listen, and they're actually going to take action!

Body Language Help for Remote Meetings

  • A common and important problem right now is how do you do the body language stuff when you're virtual.
  • Did you know that people actually seem closer virtually than in a boardroom? You have a great opportunity to read what's happening on others' faces. So that's already an advantage.
  • Here are some tips from the BBC, who have studied these effects for many years.
  • Firstly, you need to think about the Rule of Thirds. This rule states that your eyes should be 1/3 down from the top of your shots.On your next zoom call  check where your eyes are. For most people, they are either halfway down, or in fact in the bottom half of the shot. So all we're really seeing is the person's wall or the person's background - we can barely actually see them!
  • If you look at how TV news anchors are framed, you'll notice that we can see their head we can see their shoulders. And also they're in a position where if they gesture, the gestures can be seen on camera. So you can do some palms up gestures, you can do some palms down gestures, and people can see those and get more of a physical interaction with you. That's critical to be able to do!
  • In addition to that, if they haven't done it so far, get light coming towards you. There are still so many people who have strong lights or big windows behind them, and you can't see their face!
  • If you make small adjustments around your posture, around your gestures, around eye contact, you can start to build that rapport back up.

Downloads & Resources

Follow Richard on LinkedIn, Twitter and at UKBodyTalk.com.

Subscribe to our podcast on your favorite podcast platform!

Check out our blog articles on Leadership here.

Richard Newman

Business leaders all over the world rely on Richard Newman to transform their communication. One client won over $1 Billion in new business in one year, using Richard’s techniques to win 100% of their new business pitches. His team has trained 120,000 clients worldwide. But Richard had to learn it all from scratch. Richard is highly introverted. He has high-functioning autism. He was painfully shy as a child.

At age 18, Richard started his mission to discover the core communication principles. He went to live in the foothills of the Himalayas with Tibetan monks, who spoke no English. They had to communicate non-verbally to understand each other. He then worked as a professional actor, studying how to walk, move and speak to increase his impact on an audience. He became a keynote speaker, coach, author and speechwriter, winning the coveted Cicero Grand Prize for Best Speechwriter of the Year.

Richard’s research on non-verbal communication was published in the Journal of Psychology. His study proved that you can increase your leadership ratings by 44% and win 59% more votes in an election by changing a few simple behaviors.

Episode Transcript
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