IT Women: Art of Communication Helps Build Leadership
Seeking to promote leadership – particularly to strengthen the leadership skills of the women who are part of the technical community and increase their participation in regional Internet spaces – IT Women organized a session on “Leadership and Communication” during LACNIC34 LACNOG2020 which focused on the challenge of creating an impact with words.
The session was attended by approximately 200 participants who received recommendations to help them reflect on how we communicate and tips for improving how we speak in public, an essential aspect for developing our personal leadership skills.
Laura Kaplan, Head of Development and Cooperation at LACNIC, noted that the activity was organized within the framework of IT Women because communication – or the art of knowing how to communicate – is of great help when building leadership. While the workshop was open to all event participants, the idea was to share concrete tools to encourage female participation.
In this one-hour session, Manuel Libenson, a professor at the universities of San Andrés and Buenos Aires who specializes in public speaking and storytelling, shared techniques and recommendations for developing communication skills and abilities for both speeches and presentations.
Libenson stressed that the power of public speaking is the art of making information or content desirable and interesting, and for connecting with the audience’s doubts, concerns, or desires.
He added that this is known as having an impact and it is what makes for powerful public speaking. “Achieving fluency and being expressive allows us to connect with the audience. In other words, the art of public speaking is the opportunity to add value to others through our words, allowing them to develop their sensitivity, their reasoning, their knowledge,” the expert observed.
Challenges. Libenson listed a number of challenges we need to consider when giving a presentation. First, the presentation’s design: how the presentations or talks are designed and which decisions and methodologies we will implement to generate an impact. He stressed that, today, the goal is to design communicative experienced, rather than presentations, and observed that we need to think as receivers, not merely offer information or data. “Clearly, when we speak in public, when we resort to public speaking as a key element for building relationships, the other party’s expectations and desires also come into play. How can we come up with new ideas that will allow us to design a richer experience, not merely a medium for transmitting information?” he asked.
Libenson then pointed out that effective presentations contain less information, they include graphics, triggers, images and keywords, and they use the power of our voices to connect with and guide the audience.
Libenson mentioned that a trip is a good simile when planning a story. Thinking of our talk or presentation as a journey allows us to better prepare for our participation. “It forces us to ask ourselves where we want to take our audience and single out the ideas we wish to communicate. This will help us guide them considering their interests, expectations and desires. Designing a trip opens our mind and has more to do with how we will take our listeners through each highlight of our journey, capturing their attention and renewing their interest so that we don’t lose them half way through our presentation.”
Another helpful idea when planning a presentation is to offer information in the form of a story. “Stories have been shown to help audiences identify, feel empathy, identity, memory; stories touch our souls. Today’s challenge is to take the information related to the results of our projects and shape it in a way that is similar to a story,” Libenson said. Before concluding the workshop, he offered three tips for telling a story: create an introduction, a middle and an end.
In addition to preparing a good design, Libenson observed that speakers should practice their performances to improve their presentations and that they must believe in the value of the spoken word and the use of techniques to improve their confidence. Speakers must also learn to deploy expressive communication tools such as their tone of voice, their rhythm, and their body language.