Change is the only constant - The Pickering Group

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Change is the only constant

Communication is an evolving art. Not only does that keep people like me very busy, but it means that we need to keep an eye on evolving trends – lest we get left behind!

Good presenting skills are a critical part of leadership, whatever your level. They underpin your ability to communicate effectively, which in turn drives up team engagement and, ultimately, organisational performance. 

Looking back over the past 15 years in presenting and communication, I find it interesting to reflect on what’s changed and what hasn’t.

What’s not changed one iota are the fundamentals: being engaged, clear and concise. The importance of storytelling and emotional connection. And the need to show up for your audience and be present. 

What has changed? Almost everything else that sits around that. 

Going digital

In the last five years, we’ve seen the shift towards virtual presentations accelerate; we’ve all had to get a lot more comfortable with Zoom becoming part of our lives! I’ve written before about how to communicate well virtually and we’ve had enough practice that no-one should still be doing this poorly. 

However, it’s not just Zoom that’s accelerated. I’ve also seen a greater emphasis on visual content and storytelling in presentations - including video, animations and infographics to convey information in an engaging and memorable way. You don’t have to use all of these but, if you do, integrate them well. A slick animation is no excuse for bad content!

Better inclusivity

We still value inclusivity and authenticity - that hasn’t changed. But after the #MeToo movement took off, we’ve necessarily given more attention to acceptable behaviour – especially around gender and power dynamics. 

It used to be that you’d have ‘gendered’ dress codes. Today, that sort of thing matters far less. Cultural contexts are always shifting, so it pays to keep an eye on how we can make things work best for all of our people – and ensure that the playing field enables us to get the best ideas out there.

The leading theories have changed

In the 80s and 90s – if you remember back that far – leadership theory was all about charisma, and having the ‘gift of the gab’ mattered. Whoever had the authoritative voice often had command of a room. 

Over the last 20 years, people have come to realise that those features don’t correlate with organisational performance. Today, rather than focus on a loud and charismatic person at the front, there's a growing emphasis on the ‘invisible leader’ instead, who empowers everybody else to be their best selves. In line with that drive for better inclusivity, we need the quiet and considered voices to speak up, and share their perspectives, too. 

Stories matter

While the allure of great stories has remained, the stories we tell and the cultural values we align with are constantly shifting. The same fundamental techniques that were used by rabble rousers and freedom fighters two thousand years ago are still being used today. And it’s still the storytellers who have the power to connect with our hearts and minds and, in doing so, shape our beliefs and values. 

The communication and execution of great ideas is what propels our businesses and organisations forward – so as cultural concepts and values shift, it's important to stay ahead of what's contextually appropriate and what's not, and to be always open to innovative approaches and perspectives. Think about what’s changed in your own lifetime, and you’ll soon see what I mean!

As for support in the fundamentals, utilising the power of business storytelling, or unlocking the secrets and science of influence and persuasion – get in touch. Let’s talk change.

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