“A meeting is an event where minutes are taken and hours wasted.”
Those are the wise words of James Tiberius Kirk, Captain of the Starship Enterprise, and hero of “Star Trek,” the latest revival of the space exploration adventure franchise. Captain Kirk had apparently endured many boring presentations by Federation colleagues.
In honor of his revived fame, here are more Kirk quotations relevant to communication skills, persuasion and leadership. These quotations are from the 1960s television program.
“Conquest is Easy, control is not.”
Roaming the universe, the Starship Enterprise crew was always dealing with issues of conquest and control. But this quote also goes to the heart of what great communication is about. It’s about the challenge of exerting influence over others.
Great presenters influence others by focusing on value to the listener. If you want a client to comply with a set of expensive regulations, you’ll have more success if you can show that compliance will increase revenues, reduce costs, or increase competitiveness.
“The more complex the mind, the greater the need for the simplicity of play.”
This quote sounds like an exchange with Mr. Spock over a chessboard. But it also touches on the idea that one of the true tests of a leader is the ability to make complex things simple. This is particularly true in business today where the economic and regulatory environment is becoming increasingly complex.
Here’s a question you can ask yourself before your next speech that will allow you to simplify any topic: “Assuming that my listeners won’t remember everything, what are three things I really want them to remember?”
“We humans are full of unpredictable emotions that logic alone cannot solve.”
Kirk was always teaching Spock, the ever-logical Vulcan, about human emotion. And one of the most important ways to influence an audience is with emotion and passion. Great communicators don’t rely solely on logic. They show passion to build a personal connection with the listener.
Let’s say that you must pick one of two excellent firms to help your firm navigate a complicated financial transaction. Both firms have excellent reputations. How do you decide? Part of the calculus will simply be who you connect with better on a personal level.
“Genius doesn’t work on an assembly line basis. You can’t simply say, ‘Today I will be brilliant.'”
The same is true with speaking. Becoming a great speaker takes sustained effort over many years. Over time, you develop stories and a style that connects with audiences.
Three years ago, I started working with an executive at a huge Atlanta company. For the first speech we worked on together, he did a nice job. Since then, he has worked at his speaking skills, seizing opportunities to give presentations. Just this week, I saw him speak again.
“I’m amazed at your progress,” I told him.
“It’s funny how practice really works,” he said.
“We’ve got to risk implosion. We may explode into the biggest fireball this part of the galaxy has seen, but we’ve got to take that one-in-a-million chance.”
Many people, when they get up to speak, fear that the universe will explode. But if you want to be a leader, you must face that fear. The key to managing the fear of public speaking is to rehearse your presentations extensively.
“No more blah, blah, blah!”
No explanation needed on that one.