Follow Ashton Kutcher's Example: Become a More Engaging Speaker

August 21st, 2013 | Posted by Ed Albertson in Communications Skills
Follow Ashton Kutcher's Example: Become a More Engaging Speaker

Senior executives and managers can have great ideas, but if they don't have their staff's attention, it's unlikely they'll be able to significantly impact their companies' operations. Leaders need to get their employees to really listen to and connect with their messages, and cultivating strategies to do so requires high-quality leadership development training.

To supplement their learning, leaders should also look for examples of effective communication beyond the organization, and instances of powerful speaking can come from unexpected sources. Take, for instance, Ashton Kutcher's acceptance speech at the recent Teen Choice Awards. Kutcher's short presentation went viral for its inspirational nature, and it serves as a prime example of how leaders should talk to their employees if they want to inspire progress.

Hook them in
In an article on LinkedIn, Nancy Duarte of Duarte Design pointed out that Kutcher was up against a difficult audience of excited teens. To get them to settle down, he made an enticing statement: Kutcher wanted to give them an "insider secret," starting with his real first name. By building curiosity, he quickly gained the full attention of his listeners. This is also important in the boardroom, but often for the opposite reason - employees can become bored of standard business meetings and tune out. Developing a strong hook can draw them back in.

Tell a story
Another reason Kutcher was successful is his ability to tell an interesting story. He appeared passionate about his message on the stage as he told the audience about how his first jobs doing tasks like repairing roofs and washing dishes helped him reach his current level of success. While this might not sound compelling on paper, such a strategy brings a narrative element to a speech. Whether an audience is made up of teenagers at an awards show or businesspeople in a meeting room, it's important to communicate a story, not just list off a series of points. This helps listeners feel more invested in or curious about what's being said.

Empower your audience
It's also critical for any speaker to give the audience something to strive for, and that requires empowerment. Kutcher stressed through his speech that by being smart and working hard, anyone can achieve their goals. 

"Life can be a lot broader than [living in the reality created by others] when you realize one simple thing, and that's that everything around us that we call life was made up by people that are no smarter than you," Kutcher said.

This is a powerful message for young people, and it's also one that can be applied to the business world. Leaders should communicate clearly to their staff members that they are trusted, valued and have what it takes to make incredible things happen. This will spur truly great work.

By following the examples of other compelling speakers and engaging in leadership development training, any senior executive can truly connect with his or her staff, driving stronger results.

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