Great Speaking is Needed in Times of Crisis
“Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you can start.” – Nido Qubein
This newsletter will focus on the need for great speaking in times of crisis. Great speaking by parents to their children. Great speaking by our Government’s officials to their constituents. Great speaking by us to our work colleagues, relatives, and friends.
So, how should you speak in times of crisis? Below are some points you may want to consider.
Don’t Diminish People’s Fears
I learned a long time ago in a trial I had in my life that our feelings are neither right or wrong; they just are. You and I are complex beings with our hereditary traits and environmental influences all rolled up into who we are. After considering family traits and environmental influences, you are truly unique. There never was and never will be a person exactly like you.
When we speak to someone who is fearful in times of crisis, what is your first reaction? Do you validate his or her fear or do you say something like, “Oh, it is really not that bad.”? Remember, being scared is a feeling and I just mentioned above that feelings are neither right or wrong. They just are. Validate the fear in others as a real and justified feeling.
I went to undergraduate school in Newark, New Jersey a number of years ago. My college was in the central ward of Newark where some of the Vietnam riots occurred in the 1960s. My undergraduate days were not too far after the Vietnam War. There were times when I was fearful, but I did not let my fear overtake me. Denis Waitley says, “Fear stands for False Reality Appearing Real.” I now know many years later the fear I felt was false reality. But at the time, it seemed very real. Don’t discount the fear of others. Help them work through their fear.
As a side note, in all fairness, Newark today is a fine city that has been rejuvenated by several mayors and New Jersey governors. I often say I am going to visit the campus and I will someday soon.
So, fear is real and justifiable to the people who are feeling it. When you speak to fearful people, be empathetic toward them and help them work through their fear.
Being positive without discounting the fear felt by others goes a long way to resolving the situation, but it is not enough when people are going through a crisis. You must talk of solutions and not problems.
Talk of Solutions, Not Problems
What kind of a world would we live in if George Washington succumbed to the British Army? What kind of world would we live in if President Lincoln had not preserved the Union. What kind of world would we live in if Thomas Edison had not invented the incandescent light bulb?
These three men encountered obstacles that would stop most men and women “in their tracks.” But they refused to succumb to negativity. They always talked of how to solve the problem at hand. Don’t get me wrong. They had their bouts with despair. The difference is they rose to the occasion by working through their fear to a solution.
Walt Disney was known to say, “If 10 people tell me my idea will not work, I will immediately start work on it.” Can anyone out there refute the “Disney Magic?”
People are drawn to those who talk of solutions. Mind you, the solutions have to be plausible. When you are proposing a solution in your presentations, be ready to answer the following questions: “Why is it important to the audience?” “What do you want the audience to do different to make what you are saying a reality?”
So, you know fear is real and justifiable to the people who are feeling it. When you speak to fearful people, be empathetic and help them work through their fear.
You also know being positive without discounting the fear felt by others goes a long way to resolving the situation, but you must talk of solutions and not problems.
Finally, in a crisis, we need to inspire in people a “Can Do” attitude giving them specific actions they can take to lessen the impact of the crisis.
Inspire a “Can Do” Attitude and Actions
It was 5 Jun 1940. The Nazis had overrun The Netherlands, Belgium, and France in six weeks. It was obvious the next country in the Nazis sights was Great Britain. On this day, Winston Churchill in a speech to Parliament said this:
“We shall fight on the seas and oceans. We shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air. We shall defend our island whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches. We shall fight on the landing grounds. We shall fight in the fields and the streets. We shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender!”
In 1954, the wartime correspondent Edward R. Murrow said of Churchill’s inspiring speeches, “He mobilized the English language and sent it into battle.”
No one can refute the effect of Churchill’s inspiring speech to Parliament and his future speeches. He inspired a war effort that save a nation from extinction.
Hopefully, you are not faced with a challenge of this magnitude. Just the same, as a speaker, you may be put in the position of inspiring others to put forth the required effort to defeat the challenge.
The challenge may be your child has cancer or you are suddenly without a job or the death of a spouse.
Whatever the challenge may be, remember, you sometimes cannot control your circumstances, but you can always control your response to those circumstances.
I am not a psychiatrist of psychologist, but I believe worry, fear, and panic cut off your mental processes needed to solve or lesson the crisis at hand. As Norman Vincent Peale says, “A calm mind generates power.”
A calm mind also generates a “Can Do” attitude focused on solutions and not problems. When you speak to others going through a crisis inspire this “Can Do” attitude in them. Also, give them actions they can take to alleviate or lesson the crisis.
So, now you know how to speak to others in times of crisis. Being positive without discounting the fear felt by others goes a long way to resolving the situation. Talk of solutions and not problems to others. And, finally, inspire in people a “Can Do” attitude giving them specific actions they can take to lessen the impact of the crisis.
History has shown us great speaking is needed in times of crisis!
“Seeds of faith are always within us; sometimes it takes a crisis to nourish and encourage their growth.” – Susan L. Taylor
DiBartolomeo Consulting International’s (DCI) mission is to help technical professionals to inspire, motivate, and influence colleagues and other technical professionals through improving their presentation skills, communication, and personal presence.
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