Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Always Have a Conversation with Your Audience

The best part of social media, and especially my favorite platforms Twitter and Instagram, is the people I meet from all over the world and the information they share. Recently, I met Bart Egnal, and due to his passion for leadership, I invited him to appear on my Blog to share his expertise. Highlights of our conversation follow a brief introduction.

Bart Egnal has 20 years of experience as a speech writer, executive coach, and leadership development professional. He is the a author of Leading Through Language: Choosing Words That Influence and Inspire (available on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.ca/Leading-Through-Language-Choosing-Influence/dp/1119087716). He built The Humphrey Group into a global company by finding like-minded people who believe in the power of inspirational communication. He lives in Toronto, Canada, with his amazing wife, three wild children, and a fierce eight-pound wiener dog. You can find Bart on Twitter (@THG_Bart), his podcast (https://soundcloud.com/inspirepodcast), and his company's website (www.thehumphreygroup.com).

QUESTION: We “met” after I read an article you wrote about social media and the decision you and your company, The Humphrey Group, made to leave Twitter. I was inspired by your article and then wrote a Blog post (link provided at end of this post). What three pieces of advice would you give to a leadership team that might be considering the same decision?
BART EGNAL: It was a tough decision because of the pressure to "be social." My advice: You have to love the channel for its own sake, you have to have a client base that connects with you on it, and you have to "feed the beast" and keep up the stream to make your presence sustainable.

QUESTION: How do you see the employee experience tied into or aligned with the customer experience, ultimately what I refer to as the overall brand experience?
BART EGNAL: Deeply tied. Our vision is to make The Humphrey Group the go-to company for inspirational communication. Obviously, that's for clients who want to lead and inspire, but equally important is how we want to attract talent who shares our passion, and then give them a great place to work. Our brand is built on both what our clients and our team experience. We can never stop working on making both of those great.

QUESTION: Everyone has heard about “McDonald’s University” and “Disney University,” where employees learn about corporate culture before direct interaction with customers. Do you think every company should create a similar form of initial and repeat training?
BART EGNAL: Ideally yes! Of course, you need a certain amount of scale to make such an endeavour possible. But every employee should learn about what the company stands for, it's "WHY," before doing any work. This is both so they are energized but also so they can share that raison d'etre with clients. If you don't have the size of Disney, you can do that through conversations.

QUESTION: As a public speaker, you must have some communication tricks up your sleeve to keep your audiences engaged. What three tips would you like to share to improve my readers’ public speaking skills?
BART EGNAL: Remember: You're never giving a presentation or speech, you're always having a CONVERSATION with your audience. So connect with the room, be personal and be vulnerable. We've (thankfully) left behind the age of the "sage on the stage," and audiences want to connect in an authentic way with speakers. And a tip: they aren't there to read your slides - they want to hear from you.

QUESTION: What three things must everyone do to create a memorable personal brand?
BART EGNAL: I'm not a brand expert, but when it comes to leadership communication, it all starts with knowing yourself and what you stand for. This is fundamental to authenticity. Once you know that, define the ideas you want to convey so you can be ready to lead. And finally, you have to work at it. I just told a client I was coaching last week that those who look like naturals have often worked unnaturally hard at it.

QUESTION: Lastly, one of my favorite leadership quotes is from author and consultant Mark Herbert (@NewParadigmer on Twitter): "Leadership doesn't require you to be the smartest person in the room. It requires you to block and tackle for others" What does that quote mean to you?
BART EGNAL: Great quote! In this day and age, leadership is increasingly de-coupled from hierarchy and from credentials. Leading rarely is about your skills or aptitude or title. It's about how you can create followership in others. Where will you lead them? What will be inspiring to them? That's what this means to me.

My gratitude and appreciation to Bart for appearing on my Blog and for sharing his inspiring insights.

Blog post referenced above in first question:

Social Media: Brand Builder or Mission Distraction?

Image Credit: Bart Egnal quote with WordSwag app.

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