Dr. John C. Maxwell has been a public speaker and motivational teacher for more than 50 years. In his new book, The 16 Undeniable Laws of Communication, he shares everything he’s learned from a lifetime of communication. This blog post comes from the book’s introduction.
What do you want to say? Will you be able to deliver that message? When you do, will you communicate well enough that it gets through and accomplishes what you want it to?
Everyone has a message. It may be a message for the moment or the message of a lifetime. You may need to communicate the vision for your company. Or want to speak at the PTA meetings at your child’s school. Or wow your high school or college classmates with a great presentation. Or present the quarterly report without putting your colleagues to sleep.
Or present a product. Or run for office. Or preach a sermon. Or make your living by becoming a professional speaker. Or maybe you just want to be able to share your heart with members of a small group.
If your desire is to share any kind of message, you want to be able to communicate it well. You want to be able to make the most of your message. Can you?
Conquering Communication Confusion
According to Harvard Business Review, “The number one criteria for advancement and promotion for professionals is an ability to communicate effectively.” It is also vital to our everyday life. Communication is how we influence others. It’s essential to developing and maintaining relationships. It’s at the heart of our social activity. Research analyst and communication expert Hayley Harthorne says, “Communication is the connective tissue between humans, holding the potential to bring us together, create shared understanding, align on and execute initiatives, and so much more. At the end of the day, communication is the vehicle for transformation.”
Yet at the same time, public speaking, which I define as communicating a message to a group of two or more people, intimidates a lot of people. In one of his routines, stand-up comedian Jerry Seinfeld said, “I saw a study that said speaking in front of a crowd is considered the number one fear of the average person. I found that amazing. Number two is death. Death is number two? This means, to the average person, if you have to be at a funeral, you would rather be in the casket than doing the eulogy.”
It doesn’t have to be that way.
When it comes to communication, everyone stumbles in the beginning. I’ve spoken more than thirteen thousand times in my speaking career, and I’m currently at the top of my game. But my first experience speaking in public was terrible. Why wasn’t I any good? Because nobody’s good the first time! Like anything else, speaking has a learning curve. But if you have solid principles to guide your growth, you can improve quickly. And every time you speak, you get better. As Hayley Hawthorne said, “Mastering communication skills isn’t something that can be done overnight. Developing communication skills is a journey that takes time. “ But I can tell you this: the journey is worth every step!
I’ve written The 16 Laws of Communication to help anyone give a talk to others. Just as I worked to help people with leadership, teamwork, and personal growth with my other Laws books, I want to help you with communication with this one. And what was true of those laws of leadership, teamwork, and growth is also true of these:
1. THE LAWS CAN BE LEARNED.
Some are easier to understand and apply than others, but every one can be acquired.
2. THE LAWS CAN STAND ALONE.
Each law complements all the others, but you don’t need to know one to learn another.
3. THE LAWS CARRY CONSEQUENCES WITH THEM.
Apply the laws, and you will make the most of your message and increase your influence. Violate or ignore them, and you will not be effective in communicating to others.
4. THE LAWS ARE TIMELESS.
Whether you’re young or old, experienced or inexperienced, the laws apply just the same. They applied to your grandparents, and they will apply to your great-grandchildren.
5. THE LAWS ARE THE FOUNDATION OF GOOD COMMUNICATION.
Once you learn the principles, you will have to practice them and apply them to your life. If you do, you will be a better communicator.
Billionaire businessman and philanthropist Warren Buffett said, “The one easy way to become worth 50 percent more than you are now – at least – is to hone your communication skills – both written and verbal.” He also said, “If you can’t communicate, it’s like winking at a girl in the dark – nothing happens. You can have all the brainpower in the world, but you have to be able to transmit it. And the transmission is communication.”
Whether you want to lead a business, teach a class, sell a product, preach a sermon, train a staff member, coach a team, earn a degree, run a nonprofit, or speak at a neighborhood meeting, learning to communicate better will help you.
Learn and apply the Laws of Communication, and you will make the most of your message. And that will help you succeed in everything you do.
John Maxwell is one of only eight people on the planet who have been awarded Toastmasters’ Golden Gavel and been inducted into the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame. In The 16 Undeniable Laws of Communication: Apply Them and Make the Most of Your Message, Dr. Maxwell has condensed 50 years of communication experience and expertise into 16 simple principles that will help you move your message farther, faster.
Click here to discover how to get access to the exclusive 16 Laws of Communication book club. Join John Maxwell and his fellow communication experts on May 5th, May 19th, and June 2nd as they share stories and insights inspired by the book.